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Don't Feel Bad About Not Getting the Job: Reasons You Did Not Get Past the Interview

Updated on November 10, 2014
Jeannieinabottle profile image

Jeannie has been writing online for over 8 years. She covers a wide variety of topics—anything from hamsters to office work.


The Big Interview

Job interviews can be tough. You've worked hard to craft the perfect resume. You've read all about the company. You even bought a new outfit for the interview. Finally, you make it to the interview and you think you've aced it. But then, there is no phone call. You sit by the phone waiting for it to ring, but you don't get the job. What went wrong?

It is easy to feel bad about yourself, but there are many reasons why you may not be getting past the first job interview. Sometimes you could be doing things to improve your interview skills, but sometimes it is not your fault at all. Let's explore some of the reasons you may not be getting the job that are totally out of your control.

It's Not You, It's Them

Some employers are looking for the perfect candidate. In reality, no one is good enough for them. They've interviewed candidate after candidate, with no success. Every now and then, a manager is just too hard to please. You and everyone else in the world is just not good enough for what they believe is this amazing job. In all honesty, usually the job is not even that unique. If a manager is going to be that picky, you are better off finding employment somewhere else. Can you imagine if you used Arial font instead of Times New Roman font on that memo only 2 people were going to see? No one wants to deal with that kind of perfectionist.

In other cases, a manager or someone in human resources is looking for some obscure skill. It is like a game to them because no one is telling you what the special "code" is for this job. Countless applicants are interviewed until one person happens to stumble upon a particular phrase or skill set that no one else even realized was needed. Once again, that is the fault of the company not being clear on exactly what they were looking for in a worker. A better description in the help wanted ad could have saved everyone some time.


They've Already Made Up Their Minds

I can't even begin to tell you how many times HR reps have already made up their minds about an applicant they want to hire before they even interview everyone. Either they are required to interview a particular amount of people based on a company policy or they are interviewing a large group of people in case the applicant they really want to hire does not accept the job.

Sometimes the best qualified person is the first to interview. Yes, you may be qualified as well, but if someone interviewed an hour before you and happened to "wow" everyone with qualifications and charm, their minds are already made up. No matter what you say or do, they are already picturing her sitting in the empty cubicle you hoped to occupy. Sadly, that is not fair to you or anyone else. Even worse, many times something else is making up their minds: nepotism or favoritism.

Nepotism, Favoritism, and Any Other "Ism" You Can Think Of

One of the most frustrating reasons you may not get a job is favoritism or nepotism. Sure, most companies act like this is against their policies, but it is alive and well at many organizations. Sometimes a worker that happens to be a favorite employee recommends his friend for a position. You may be more qualified for the job and even get a chance to interview for it, but that employee is going to push to get his buddy in the door. Although it may not be appropriate, many managers would rather hire someone that is not entirely unknown. You, a stranger to them, is more of a risk despite your qualifications.

An even more frustrating situation is when a manager's son, daughter, nephew, etc. gets hired. Staff members often feel pressure to hire Junior even though he can barely spell his own name. Meanwhile, your amazing interview skills, high GPA, and qualifications mean nothing. You will often even get a feeling from a hiring manager that you almost had the job; it is such a shame the CEO's less-qualified niece wanted the job.

With the job market not being so great, it is an unfortunate truth that these things happen more now. In the past, people with little education or experience could still find OK jobs without the assistance of others. However, now little Johnny and Suzie can't make it without the help of their parents pulling a few strings for them. Desperation in a tough economy will make parents, friends, and family members do whatever they can do to help their loved ones.

Silly Pettiness

People are just people and hiring managers are no different from anyone else. Even if they are supposed to be looking for particular skills in a worker, sometimes something totally ridiculous distracts them and you don't get the job.

For instance, maybe you were wearing purple that day and the manager hates the color purple. No matter what you say, you can't compete with the last candidate that had basically the same qualifications as you, but she was wearing grey. In some cases, some articles will even recommend that you only wear dull, neutral colors. Let's face it, grey, black, and brown seem more professional anyway.

I once knew a girl named Stacy that got her job because her boss named her own daughter Stacy. When she was interviewing candidates and found a person with her favorite name, she hired her. That is great luck for a gal named Stacy, but it kind of stinks if your name is Julie, Kelly, Jennifer, Shannon.... You get my point. That is just pure dumb luck. How could you ever predict you would not get a job simply because your name is Michelle?

In these situations, the person interviewing candidates is just being petty. Unfortunately, you never know what could work for you or against you. You might make a joke or two to cut the tension, but the manager has no sense of humor. Perhaps you worked at a company the manager hates, but he never bothered to look at your resume prior to your interview; he simply interviewed anyone Human Resources recommended. Sometimes you did not get the job for a really silly reason.

Get A Job!

Have you ever felt like you did not get a job for a silly reason?

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Never Give Up!

Going to job interviews is a lot like dating. You put on a nice outfit, you turn on the charm, and you hope the person sitting across from you likes you. The very quality one manager loves is the same quality another manager may hate. Don't feel too bad about yourself if you don't get a position, especially when you will never know exactly what went into the hiring process. For all you know, you were applying for a job at an office full of crooks and you did not get hired because you seemed too honest. Sometimes it is for the best when you don't get a job.

If you are not finding any luck at all with interviews, it may be time to consider the reason. Are you saying anything offensive? Are you talking too much or too little? Maybe you asked about the salary at an inappropriate time (wait for them to bring it up!) Perhaps you need to ask a friend to sit with you and the two of you can practice a "pretend interview" together. You might learn a lot! If you keep trying, eventually you willget a job, even if it is not your dream job. Never give up and good luck to you!

Copyright ©2014 Jeannieinabottle


Submit a Comment
  • Jeannieinabottle profile imageAUTHOR

    Jeannie Marie 

    6 years ago from Baltimore, MD

    Yeah, I think I would rather go to the dentist. I did not mind them as much when I was younger. Now, everyone is so demanding and picky. I hate jumping through hoops for a job I probably don't want in the first place.

  • drbj profile image

    drbj and sherry 

    6 years ago from south Florida

    For most job hunters, going to a job interview rates right up there with a visit to a dental surgeon. Preparation and research about the company beforehand is a plus but not a job guarantee. And as you pointed out, the best candidates are not always the ones that are hired.

  • Jeannieinabottle profile imageAUTHOR

    Jeannie Marie 

    6 years ago from Baltimore, MD

    Efficient Admin, you might be on to something. Starting as a contractor and then getting a permanent position is a good idea. I have a friend that did that recently. Interviews are just unpredictable.

    e-five, that is such an unfair situation. Obviously some strings were pulled so the senior staff member would get the job. I do hope you left that job as soon as you could since they did not appreciate you. It is hard to go to a job everyday when you know you should have been promoted or you feel completely unappreciated.

  • e-five profile image

    John C Thomas 

    6 years ago from Chicago, Illinois, USA

    Once I interviewed for a state government job I had held on an interim basis for a year. The interview was conducted in the officed I occupied, my supervisor wanted me for the job, I was exceptionally qualified academically, and every question in the interview had recent examples of how I actually handed each scenario-- in real life, and with positive to extraordinary outcomes. The interview could not have been better if I had meticulously scripted each question and answer myself. It was easily the best interview I'd ever done, let alone witnessed. Yet the job ended up going to a senior staff member of the speaker of the state legislature, an aide with no experience in the field who didn't particularly want to live in the small town state capital anymore. To make matters worse, my supervisor immediately began treating me miserably-- as though my not getting the job was entirely due to my screwing it up, and not because it was a fait accompli. That was probably the worst part-- not only did I not get the job, I was suddenly viewed by my boss as a loser who was not worthy of minimally cordial interaction.

  • Efficient Admin profile image

    Michelle Dee 

    6 years ago from Charlotte, NC

    Just the thought of having to interview for a job brings dread over me. I can't even count all the interviews I went on. Some were really good and I thought went well and expected a job offer (but didn't get the offer) and some were just hideous. The last four full-time positions I had was me starting out as a contractor and they hired me. I think that is the way to go nowadays, but like billybuc says, I hope I never have to interview for a job ever again.

  • Jeannieinabottle profile imageAUTHOR

    Jeannie Marie 

    6 years ago from Baltimore, MD

    Eiddwen, thanks so much for the vote up and for visiting my hub.

    lambservant, you are probably right. Some managers prefer people without confidence. They can bully them better! Thanks for your comment.

    ocfireflies, thanks so much. Those "isms" seem to bring us down in the workplace.

  • ocfireflies profile image


    6 years ago from North Carolina

    I especially like the "any kind of -ism."

    Great hub with useful tips presented in a reader-friendly way.


  • lambservant profile image

    Lori Colbo 

    6 years ago from Pacific Northwest

    I feel very certain I did not get one job because I was too jovial and too sure of myself. That was a lesson learned. Great hub.

  • Eiddwen profile image


    6 years ago from Wales

    Very interesting and useful.

    Voted up for sure.


  • Jeannieinabottle profile imageAUTHOR

    Jeannie Marie 

    6 years ago from Baltimore, MD

    Yeah, I am not a fan of it myself. One of these days I hope to make enough doing online work so I don't have to keep subjecting myself to it. Thanks for checking out my hub, Bill.

  • billybuc profile image

    Bill Holland 

    6 years ago from Olympia, WA

    All valid points. I'm sure glad I don't have to hunt for a job...I don't miss the interview process at all.


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