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Reasons You Weren't Hired That You Never Knew

Updated on April 4, 2016
Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Ms. Inglish is successful at employment & training, with regional records of tens of thousands placed and retained in gainful employment.

Why were we not hired? Sometimes we wonder. We hope it was for a good reason.
Why were we not hired? Sometimes we wonder. We hope it was for a good reason. | Source

Are Reasons for Rejection Camouflaged in Interviewing?

Don't be suspicious in interviews, but remain alert to red flags.

While there are several clear-cut reasons that an employer might not to hire a certain job candidate, such as not meeting the educational requirements for the job, there are also other reasons that are not as clear.

These "hidden" reasons may involve discriminatory hiring practices that are illegal in the United States. If a question is not related specifically to a job and its exact duties, but it addresses anything on the following list, then it should not be asked. A legal job application and a legal interview should not contain questions that target any of the items contained on the following list, or trick questions that try to get at the same information:

Race, age, sex, gender orientation, religion, national origin, and ethnicity.

In this category, an interviewer has the right only to ask if an applicant is at least 18 years of age and has a legal right to work in this country. However, organized churches have the right to discriminate on the basis of specific religion and according to their own rules and regulations.

Marital status, maiden name; or the number, names, and ages of children or other dependents living with you. Any questions about living arrangements.

Interviewers cannot ask you directly or indirectly about any of these matters. They are to interview you on the basis of you alone.

Employment status of a spouse or domestic partner and any child-care arrangements.

Interviewers may not ask if you have a spouse, a domestic partner, a boyfriend, or a girlfriend. They may further not ask if that person is working, at what type of job, for how long, or for what company or companies he or she has worked. In fact, the interviewer may not ask about your living arrangements or who else might be living in your home at all.

A female job applicant's pregnancy or related conditions.

Pregnancy and related conditions are not relevant to employment, so these types of questions may not be asked.

Arrest records that did not lead to actual convictions.

An interviewer may ask only about convictions or pending felony charges.

The existence, nature of, or severity of any sickness or disability.

Interviewers may ask only about a job candidate's ability to perform specific job tasks, such as lifting 50 pounds frequently, standing for 8 hours, climbing ladders, carrying equipment while climbing a ladder, driving a vehicle, etc. Eyesight can be questioned in the case of airplane pilots.


Organizational affiliations.

except professional memberships related to the specific job. This would include membership in the American Psychiatric Association,

Military history.

Employers cannot ask if you were in the military services or what type of discharge you received, unless the job requires a military background. Such jobs would include certain government positions and some law enforcement jobs.

Having a high school diploma.

Interviewers cannot ask you specifically if you have a high school diploma. They may request only that job applicants supply the details of his or her educational history, including schools, attendance dates and any diplomas, certificates and awards received. There will be a block dedicated to this on the job application. Even if you submit a resume, most employers require you to fill out a job application in order to be considered for the job, as well as for your personnel file if you are hired.

What is the lowest salary acceptable to you for a specific position?

There are standard salary ranges for jobs and professions, depending on the local job market area in the US.

New or inexperienced interviewers may ask what they consider to be legitimate questions that are actually discriminatory and illegal. They ask a younger female applicant if she plans on marriage and/or children. If she says yes and is not hired, she could file a lawsuit for discriminatory hiring practices.

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This is probably a legitimate question. Employers might ask if any other languages are spoken at home and it speaks to nationality. and ethnicity.   Perhaps you need to be bilingual for a job. This would be a legitimate question.
This is probably a legitimate question. Employers might ask if any other languages are spoken at home and it speaks to nationality. and ethnicity.
This is probably a legitimate question. Employers might ask if any other languages are spoken at home and it speaks to nationality. and ethnicity. | Source
Perhaps you need to be bilingual for a job. This would be a legitimate question.
Perhaps you need to be bilingual for a job. This would be a legitimate question. | Source

5 Camouflaged Reasons for employment Rejection

AGE (If you are an adult)

The employer may tell you that you are over qualified for a certain position. However, a mature worker often has better work attitudes and work ethic, along with increased job skills. They are usually absent from work less often and are less likely to quit a job.

Employers can legally ask you if you are at least 18 years of age, but not how old you are above that age.


There is still an attitude among some American managers that a woman is not capable of leadership positions and would have trouble managing people. Some managers fear that a woman will become pregnant and quit or take off the 6 weeks or more Family Leave time permitted by the company.

There is also much confusion about gender and sexual orientation among some hiring panels, but individuals should be hired on merit and qualifications, not gender.


Many disabilities have no impact on actual job duties to be performed. Employers may not discriminate because of disability if the job applicant can perform the job duties required - not even because it will "increase insurance costs", which is not a legal reason.


Interviewers may come to the conclusion that you are too rigid, closed-minded, or slow to respond in a workplace setting, or that you have control issues that would interfere with the productivity of the department or the company in which you would be working.

This in itself is not illegal discrimination. However, if it is coupled with the status of being a more mature job applicant, over 40 years of age, it might be considered illegal age discrimination. The "difficulty adapting to change" may or may not be simply a proxy for "too old." An attorney should be consulted if you feel this has happened to you.

"The Amount of Compensation Is Too High."

It is not illegal to reject a job applicant because they want more money, benefits, or perks than the company has budgeted to offer to any job candidate for a specific job. However, if this rejection is coupled with the age of the more mature job applicant that is over 40 years old, then there might be an illegal discrimination problem.

If a younger applicant is hired for that specific job at a lower salary and was not as qualified to do the job as you are, there might then be some evidence that you would want to discuss with an attorney.

If a salary is offered to you that is below the starting point for the usual salary range for the job in your locale, then that is also a problem, because minorities and women are sometimes offered such lower wages.This is a good reseaon to research average wage ranges in your city for specific jobs. Check for help.

An attorney can advise you best in this matter, if you suspect discrimination.

© 2007 Patty Inglish MS


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