- You are Overqualified - Candidates with outstanding experience and credentials are often viewed as simply too expensive; the potential employer would expect that that you would require a higher salary and benefits package. If someone else interviewed for the same position and they fit the qualifications but didn't overly exceed them, it might be in the company's best interest to hire the less experienced and almost as qualified candidate and save the company the expense of going though the hiring process once again should the newly-hired employee leave.
- You are Under-qualified - Employers don’t want or can’t afford the investment of time it would take to train you.
- You Don't Know the Right People - You may be great on paper, and you may interview really well – but if another candidate has a previous relationship with the employer, i.e. the child of a friend of the owner of the company, you might be out of luck. Although this scenario is often unavoidable, your best bet is to make sure you follow up with a genuinely appreciative phone call or note. Leaving a positive impression will keep you in that employer's mind if other opportunities arise.
- You Hit it Off, but Not Professionally - Having a good rapport with your interviewer is great – however, if you bonded over your love of tequila shooters, you may have made a friend and not an employer.
- You are Perceived as Not being the "Right Fit" - Companies all have their own ‘personalities’ and ‘company culture’. The personality and company culture can be easily identified by looking at their current mix of employees with a critical eye. Companies that view themselves as young and hip will always be reluctant to hire any new employee that is as old as or older than the principals or senior members of the organization.
- You Came with Conditions - Even if you are a good fit for the job, if you come with strings attached, you may not get hired. If you can't see yourself sticking to the position long term, or if prior commitments mean you'll have to work odd hours, it could take you out of the running. If possible, come in condition-free or at least willing to compromise. However, if you have a restriction that is non-negotiable, it's only fair to both of you to bring it up in the interview – there's no sense in wasting time if the situation won't work out.
- You Simply Lost the Coin Toss - Although you have a skill the employer hopes to learn from you, it may be as simple as two or more candidates being equally qualified and you merely lost the coin toss.
- Your Words and/or Actions Demonstrated a Lack of Professionalism - This lack of professionalism could be in the form of an off-the-cuff comment you probably shouldn't have made, or a more blatant reason like answering your cell phone during an interview.
Whatever the reason, do your best to learn from it and apply it to your next interview. Don't be afraid to politely follow up via telephone and make inquires about the company’s rationale for their decision, as it certainly can’t hurt, but don’t be surprised if you receive some form of superficial response in either a verbal or written form. The rejection, verbal, e-mail or even via post, usually sounds something similar to the following:
Dear (Insert your name here):
While we appreciate your interest in our company and for the position for which you applied, we have decided that we will be making an offer to a candidate whose experience and credentials appears to be better suited for the position of (insert the name of the position).
The selection committee appreciates the time you invested in exploring the opportunity with our company and we wish you every personal and professional success with your job search and in the future. Thank you, again, for your interest in our company.
(Interview’s name or HR Department)
Closing thoughts - Always be professional, and thank the interviewer for helping you to understand what you did wrong, or where you can improve. After all, if you made it to the interview stage once, you are likely to do it again.
Copyright © 2011, Career Matters. All Rights Reserved.Permission to Reprint: This article may be reprinted, provided it appears in its entirety with the following attribution: Copyright © 2010, Career Matters. Reprinted by permission of Mary Salvino.“Career Matters” is a blog hosted by Mary Salvino, Senior Consultant for SMART Career Planning.com. This blog is dedicated to those who are seeking advice on managing their career and future job opportunities. We welcome readers to share their experiences, post their comments or ask questions about career related matters. For any questions or comments that are better addressed privately, please feel free to e-mail Mary directly at Mary.Salvino@shaw.ca