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Great interview but no job offer? 6 things they are not telling you

Amanda Datchens //  18 Comments

Confused and frustrated? Find out why hiring managers and recruiters offer the job to someone else - and won’t tell you why.


Coming out of an interview and knowing you did well feels great, doesn’t it?

When you replay it back in your mind and you know that you wouldn’t change a thing.

So, when you are looking forward to a job offer but get silence or the polite email thanking you for attending but informing you they have ‘decided to go in a different direction,’ it is a bitter blow that is hard to fathom.

Why it is hard to get feedback after interviews

I always tell people to ask for feedback after their interviews because it is so valuable.

When you are given specific and actionable feedback in terms of something you can work on, you can take it on board and work on it before your next interview.

However, I also don’t expect them to get it.

Let me explain.

Rightly or wrongly, hiring managers and recruiters rarely take the time to do this due to deadlines and other pressures.

I appreciate it is frustrating but it is also something you already know, right?

Otherwise you wouldn't' be reading this

Due to this, I also advise job seekers to try to get round this by getting feedback during their interviews.

At your next interview try to ask something like “are there any areas you would like to explore further regarding my skills and experience and what I could bring to this role?”

This is a less confrontational way to ask, “do you feel there are any barriers to me receiving a job offer?”

What they say can provide a good indication of any areas of potential weakness they may perceive.

This provides you with the opportunity to address it there and then and reassure them in person so they can move past it.

But if you weren't able to do this, and you really haven't got a clue what went wrong, here are 6 likely reasons why it didn't work out and what you can do about it next time.

6 reasons why there is no job offer after a great interview 


1 - Your preparation let you down 

"If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail." I bet you are familiar with with this Benjamin Franklin quote but I also bet you haven't fully applied this to your interview preparation.

The Problem:

If you decided to wing it in favour of being spontaneous on the day, this could be why you didn’t receive a job offer.

Yes, they may very well have liked you as a person and the interview went well, but other more prepared candidates probably convinced them they were better able to fulfil the specific job in question.

As a recruiter, I hear comments like this all the time from my clients.

“I really liked Sam and thought she would be a great fit with the team, but we are going to offer the job to Christine because we feel she will be a safer pair of hands”

The Solution:

Personality can only take you so far – its preparation that will get you a job offer.

So how far should you go with your preparation and what are the key factors? Here are the main areas you should concentrate on.

  • Research the company and its culture so you can be in synch with their needs
  • Find out who will be interviewing you and their background to help you build rapport on the day
  • Study the job description to ensure you stay on track with their requirements
  • Practice answers for common interview questions and behavioural questions so you don't get caught out
  • Prepare thoughtful questions to ask the interviewers about the role and the company to show you are serious
  • Choose an appropriate outfit in advance so you don't panic on the day
  • Test your tech works if it is online so there are no disasters
  • If it is face to face, plan the route in advance so you don't turn up late and flustered

2 - Your referees let you down 

Hiring managers and recruiters are not going to tell you if one of your referees gave you a bad reference.When this happens, they also won’t be telling you that you got the job either. So, it stands to reason that it is crazy not to take your choice of referees very seriously.

The Problem:

It doesn’t matter whether you had an amazing interview, a bad reference can stop you getting a job offer.

The Solution:

Check the referees you have listed on your resume and ask yourself this.

Have I spoken with them recently?

Do they really know what I do now?

Have they seen the latest copy of my resume?

Will they take this seriously and be professional if they are contacted?

Have I told them that I have named them as a referee, and they might get a call?

If you can answer yes to all the above, there is just one more question left.

Am I sure there are no areas in our time working together that were negative?

If you have any concerns at all, choose someone else instead.

But what if you have limited time and can’t think of anyone else?

Try this.

Get a friend to call them and say they are from a recruitment agency and want to take up a reference for you.

Then get them to ask a few standard questions relating to time management, attendance, and your ability to work as part of a team.

Then get them to ask if there are any areas of weakness that they are aware of that may hinder your performance in the role.

If you discover that their reference will not exactly be glowing, you must take them off your resume and do your best to find another ex-colleague who will vouch for you instead.

If you don’t, it could cost you the job however well the interview went.


3 - Your social resume told a different story 

At your interview you were poised, professional, and articulate.But last Saturday night it was your best friend’s party, and you were tipsy, loud and incoherent – and you (or your friends) posted this on Facebook.

The Problem:

No one expects you to just post work-related stuff online, because that in itself would be a little weird and definitely unhealthy.

However, recruiters and HR are more than likely to check out your social resume as part of the application process for jobs that you apply for.

In fact, studies have shown that up to 70 per cent of employers have rejected job applicants simply because of something they found on social media.

And it’s not just what you post that matters – it’s what you like and share too.

The Solution:

Your Social Resume isn't a single document like a regular resume.

Instead, it refers to a person's online presence.

In other words, it's the combination of all your social media accounts - and all your activity on them - that will come up if someone Google's your name.

So, if you feel you have been interviewing well but not getting job offers, you may want to take a look at your online profile to see what it says about you.

Ask yourself, would I hire me? If the answer is no then its time to do some profile cleansing.


4 - It was a good but not a great interview 

The truth is you might not have been memorable enough. Ouch! Yes, I know this seems harsh but let me put this into perspective.

The Problem:

Recruiters and hiring managers interview lots of applicants everyday and there are two types of people that are memorable and stand out from the crowd.

The really good and the really bad.

In other words, sometimes good simply isn’t good enough.

Good gets you shortlisted – but memorable gets you the job offer.

Your interview could have been great but did you do enough to set yourself apart from all the other great interviews they conducted for the position?

So how do you raise your game and be ‘the chosen one?’

The Solution:

When you are doing your interview prep, focus on the examples you will give to support your answers.

Employers don’t just want someone who can do the job.

They want someone who can make an impact.

Think of all the times you achieved in your career where you did something slightly different that brought impressive results.

Be sure to mention these because they will prove what you can personally bring to the role that perhaps the others can’t.

Look at the wording of the job advert for clues about who they want.

If it says ‘innovative’ give them examples of this.

If they mention ‘analytical’, focus on this.

Are you unusually strong in a certain area that your competition may lack?

Then highlight this in the interview to give yourself the edge.

Don’t forget to also focus on the interviewer.

Instead of a question-and-answer session try to engage them and turn it into more of a conversation so they enjoy it more.

If they like you, there’s a greater chance that they will want to work with you and offer you the job.

If you don’t connect, you will stay as a good candidate but not their preferred candidate.


5 - You acted inconsistently 

Many questions are in the interviewer’s mind when they are assessing you for a role, but they will always be looking for the answer to this one. Is this person for real?

The Problem:

When it comes to the technical aspects of the role, they can normally be satisfied by receiving knowledgeable responses that show you have the necessary skills and experience.

They will then back this up with a reference check.

But it is a little trickier to see who the ‘real you’ is because, as you are at an interview, you will naturally be on your best behaviour.

The Solution:

You need to understand that whilst you are there you are being assessed by everyone.

Don’t bring your phone into reception, stare at it, and be dismissive of the receptionist.

Be pleasant and approachable with any staff you meet both before and after your interview.

See every interaction as part of the interview because if you act differently out of the interview room it could cost you the job offer.

For example, if the receptionist says to the HR Manager “I didn’t like that one. He was so rude” they will think twice about employing someone who could upset the team dynamics.

And, if you were really nice to them in your interview, you will look like it was all fake.


6 - Something changed 

The absence of a job offer could actually be all about them - and not about you at all!

The Problem:

Perhaps there was always a preferred internal candidate, but they had to go through the motions of interviewing external applicants?

In this scenario, you never really stood a chance, no matter how brilliant your performance was in the interview.

Or perhaps a candidate they had been trying to attract for ages suddenly became available?

Then there are all the organisational reasons such as an imminent merger, budgets being cut, or the job description completely changing because they have decided they want something different.

The Solution:

These are of course things you have no control over, and you will never be told why you lost out by the hiring manager or recruiter.

This is why you shouldn't beat yourself up and blame yourself if you don't get a job offer because, if you thoroughly prepared and did your best, there is a good chance it wasn't actually about you failing - just things changing. 

The solution to this is to keep actively applying for roles until you have a signed offer. Anything can happen but if you know you have other opportunities in the pipeline it hurts less when you receive individual rejections.

Key takeaways

The number one reason people don’t get a job offer after an interview is because they decided to wing it and not put in the necessary time to prepare properly.

If you have prepared, there are many reasons why you don’t get a job offer after a great interview that hiring managers and recruiters will not tell you because it is either too awkward or it is privileged information.

These include

  • A bad reference that made them nervous
  • Something negative they found on your social media profiles
  • Another candidate made a more memorable impact
  • They observed you acting inappropriately outside of the actual interview
  • Changes occurred with the job itself and had nothing to do with your performance.

Been rejected? Don't give up!

It may feel like the end of the world but a surprising amount of people still get a job after initially being rejected. Here's how they do it - so you can do it too.

how to guide

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About the Author

A career coach, headhunter, Amanda has founded and been involved in developing multiple companies known for innovative HR and recruitment solutions. Originally from London but now in Queensland, Australia, she is the co-founder of Real Life Career Advice

What are your thoughts?

Leave a comment or ask a question.

  • What if I applied for the same job , had the credentials and preferred requirements was called in for an interview each of the four times but not hired??

    • Hi Scott

      So, just to clarify, you applied for the same job four times, had an interview each of the four times, and yet not hired?

      If this is with the same company, have they ever given you feedback? If not, stop wasting your time. They may be going through the motions and have preferred candidates from the beginning. Move on and apply elsewhere.

      If these have been with different companies, perhaps something is going wrong in the interview. Alternatively, are you sure your referees are not letting you down? No one is going to tell you if they are.

  • What are we doing. All these games to hire the wrong person. And all these games is why they hire the wrong person. Labor shortage is because of temp agencies, and erroneous hiring methods. It’s so sad.

    • Hi James.

      Thanks for your comment. There certainly is a lot of room for improvement regarding processes in the industry and it sounds like you have had some bad experiences and become frustrated by this. Try to keep an open mind though because not all agencies are unprofessional. Easy said than done I know if you have been badly let down.

  • I don’t understand why I can’t get hired.
    I have been on numerous interviews since Thanksgiving 2022.
    I’m afraid if I don’t have a job within the next 2 wks.I may have to sell my home as a last resort.
    I am and will stay hopeful…

  • Hello! I was interviewed for a job 7 days ago. During the interview she was saying alot of positve things regarding my answers. At the end of the interview she said she was very impressed with my qualificationsand I would here something in 7 days because she had more interviews. I called yesterday just to see(which would be the 7th day ) if tey had made a decision yet. A person that didnt do the interview said “oh sorry they made a job offer to some one else.” Im confused? The interviewer seemed Misleading? I was really bummed out.

  • I possess extensive experience as an IT Manager and have actively been seeking employment since February. Alongside a solid technical background, I excel in articulating ideas effectively. I have diligently researched strategies for excelling in interviews, consistently arriving well-prepared and leaving a lasting impression. Despite progressing to various stages of the hiring process, including initial, secondary, and panel interviews, I have yet to receive a job offer, which is disheartening. I remain open-minded regarding salary requirements and other considerations. After reading your article, one aspect that raises uncertainty pertains to my professional references. I am unsure if they are truly providing exceptional feedback or expressing any negative remarks, potentially for undisclosed reasons. Or are there any other reasons — like being overqualified?

    • Hi Anjun. This must be very frustrating for you.Could you perhaps try a different set of referees? You could of course ask someone you know to take a ‘dummy reference’ for you to see if this is your stumbling block but beware of what you do with this information if it is not positive. Resist the temptation to challenge them and move on to to another referee instead. Yes, you may be overqualified or any number of other reasons too. It’s difficult to know without being aware of your actual circumstances. Perhaps though you could also ask yourself if you are applying for the right jobs at the right companies? Set a list of criteria and directly approach a select list of companies. Candidates that really want a specific opportunity tend to have that special something at interview that shines through.

  • Hi, this is very frustrating, my husband has been looking for a job in his field which is civil for a long time. He knows English and French very professionally. It has a very good experience. He also has a master’s degree. But we don’t know why he is not hired after excellent job interviews? This is really confusing for us! He was a very successful and happy person, but he is getting more and more depressed and sad!

    • Hi Khaty. Thinking and knowing you had a good interview can be two different things. There could be so many factors involved here but I would like to help. Please tell him not to confuse not getting a job with not being good at his job. Again, these can be two different things. Let’s see if we can unravel this for him. I have sent you a direct message.

  • HI,
    I have interviewed for a very straight forward company. I thought it went well, except they asked if I had any questions and they did such a great job, I couldn’t think of any. I was prepared and I know the company. At the End I thanked them and he showed me out of the warehouse and said….. I’ll call by saturday either way. Have not heard anything so far. ITS STILL Saturday. ONE last interview to go.
    If I don’t hear back by MONDAY….??

    • Hi Michelle. Call or email him on Monday. Don’t read too much into this because it’s vey common for interviewers to not get back to people when they say they will. Make it brief and say something like “I didn’t hear anything back on Saturday so I thought I would call/drop you a line. I realise that you are very busy so you probably just haven’t had time but I would like to let you know that I am still very keen for this opportunity. Could you please tell me when you feel you will be able to make a decision?” Then work within the date he gives you if you don’t hear back again. I will be keeping my fingers crossed for you

  • Hi Amanda,

    I hope all is well. I really enjoyed reading this article and all the crucial info and points you brought into it. I am also in this tricky position where I’m getting invited to interviews but not securing a job offer. Let me share with you something interesting that happened to me in my last interview with Edinburgh uni (I’m an academic). The leading hiring manager contacted me and informed me that they had shortlisted five candidates out of 65. She told me I was ranked second among the five they interviewed. Ouch! So close. I was told that if the first applicant didn’t accept the offer, they plan to pass it on to me.

    As a non-native English speaker, I feel I need to go beyond and above to distinguish myself. It puts more pressure on me, but that’s how the system works. It’s hard because there are things that is out of our control (e.g., height, eye colour, our background, and where we come from). BTW, I’m not saying this to make an excuse, but as a psychologist, I’m aware that we all have our personal biases (at least that’s what the literature confirms) That said, I’m resilient and will keep going at it! Thanks for your informative article, which hopefully will assist in better preparation in the future.

    • Hi Bashar

      First, congratulations on being 2 out of 65. That’s no mean feat. Second, well, that’s the issue – being the silver medalist is painful I know.

      When you are preparing for your next interview, think about this. People can perform extremely well at interview and do everything ‘right’ with standard, conventionally expected responses but the person who gives a genuine performance and makes a real connection with the interviewers will win the day. You are absolutely right about distinguishing yourself. Think about what you can uniquely bring to the role from your past experience and curate examples based on what you can offer them which just happen to be perfectly aligned with the key objectives of the role. The type of things only you can bring so, if they want to benefit, they will have to hire you – and only you – or miss out.

  • My husband has been out of work for months. He has had alot of interviews/final interviews. There have been at 3 or 4 jobs that seemed like they were his and received the “thanks but no thanks” email. I don’t know what else he can do. So frustrating and he is the sole provider for our family.

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