Why You Didn’t Get That Job

Not getting the role you interviewed for stings, and it’s easy to immediately blame yourself. But sometimes, not everything is within your control.
Sarah Si
Sarah Si
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Your job search is going well – you managed to catch your recruiter’s attention with your customised resume and cover letter, and have been flying through the several stages of interview(s) you’ve been invited to. All in all, you think you’ve got a pretty good chance of getting that job!

But then, you get the notice. You didn’t nab the role. And when you ask “Why?” over a sent email, the recruiter simply sends back a vague answer, like “We decided to go in a different direction”, or details a reason that’s completely out of your control, such as the company deciding to move a present employee internally to fill the position. Such answers can be frustrating, as you’re pretty far along the recruitment process (in-person interviews tend to be the final hurdle in the recruitment process).

But the thing is, there are really more factors at play than what you might see on the surface as to why you didn’t get the job, both in and out of your control. Here are some of the most common ones, as well as how you can work around them.

Inside of your control: You didn't demonstrate your positive qualities well during the interview

And by positive qualities, we mean skills, knowledge, experience and even company research. See, although the interview process may seem long and never ending to you, the same can’t be said about your recruiters! They only have a small window of time – usually just two to three interviews – to decide if you’re the best candidate for them and make a decision.

Alternatively, you might have blanked out during your interview – by not making the best impression on your recruiter, and in turn, making them think twice about taking you on.

What you can do: If you didn’t manage to get everything positive out there during your interviews, send your interviewers a follow-up thank-you email that also includes samples of answers you might not have answered well, as well as samples of company research you forgot to mention.

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Outside of your control: You're not the right fit

Although employers do take your academic qualifications and skills into consideration, it’s just one of the many factors they have to consider. Rather than just onboarding the candidate with the best resume, they look for the person who also fits best in the company, both skill and culture-wise.

For example, if you’re a fun-loving person gunning for a role in a company that has a more mature, corporate culture, the recruiter may choose not to bring you on even if you have the necessary skills, as they know you might end up being miserable due the clash between your personality and company culture.

What you can do: Although this factor is completely out of your control, you can try to poke around and see if you can figure out the company culture on your own. If you think you aren’t a good fit, at least you won’t be caught on the back foot if you don’t land the position in the company.

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Inside of your control: You're either overqualified or underqualified

As mentioned earlier in this article, there’s more to hiring than just recruiters checking if you’ll fit in well with colleagues and the company’s culture. Today’s competitive job market also means a few other factors are also taken into high consideration, namely the company’s requirements in experience, academic background and skills.

But that’s not to say that your qualifications, whether over or under, can disqualify you for a role! So long as you feel you’re suitable for the role, and can contribute to the company in a positive manner, simply focus on what you can bring to the table professionally-speaking.

What you can do: Rather than focusing on just your academic qualifications, explain to recruiters why you’re the best candidate for the role, by linking your relevant skills to the key requirements of the role you want. Similarly, if they require hard skills, you can point out your professional qualifications.

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Outside of your control: It really doesn't have anything to do with you at all

This factor is the most painful one of all, because you’ll have to bear the full consequences of lost time and resources, alongside your recruiter. To make it worse, there have been cases where successful applicants were offered the roles – only for them to be rescinded.

Unfortunately, this factor’s a reality in today’s job market, where company resources can be dictated by the fluctuating economic situation and technology adaptation, which can sometimes result in the company downsizing or restructuring internally in response to reduced company budgets.

What you can do: Recognise that this doesn’t have anything to do with you at all. Take the time to deal with the shock and grief, re-orientate yourself and your timeline and jump back into your job hunt!

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There may be other reasons why you didn’t land the role, such as not cleaning up your social media accounts, lying on your resume, not dressing well, perhaps accidentally rambling on, or checking your phone during the interview by force of habit. If you’ve figured out which red flags you raised, you can take the time to correct them. But if you didn’t raise any flags, it might be down to the factors raised above. But not all hope is lost yet! As you continue on your job search, you have a chance to find the company who will appreciate you for who you are.