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