If You Didn't Get Hired, This Could be Why

John Krautzel
Posted by in Career Advice

As a job seeker, you recognize there could be many reasons why a hiring decision didn't work out in your favor. Perhaps someone was more qualified than you, had better soft skills, presented himself better in the job interview or clicked with the interviewers in a more substantial way. Liz Ryan, an HR expert writing for Forbes, has some thoughts as to why she wouldn't hire you.

Ryan points out that hiring decisions often come down to the judgment and perspective of those interviewing you. Even when you ask later for some feedback as to what you can improve, the answer may not be that simple. Your interviewers may not even have the time to return the feedback. However, there are some things to watch out for and avoid in your behavior while trying to wow the people in front of you.

1. Memorized Answers

Memorized answers are great, but if every answer you give to interviewers sounds rehearsed, the hiring decision may not go your way because your interviewers will recognize canned answers. It's fine to think about your responses and be spontaneous.

2. Lack of Emotions

You're not a robot, nor do your interviewers expect you to be. In fact, people love passionate hires who have an emotional connection to the position. That doesn't mean baring your soul during your face time, but a hiring decision might come down to your emotional intelligence.

3. Failure to Ask Questions

Interviews are conversations with your future employer, and they are not an interrogation room where you answer as many questions as possible. Interviewers expect you to ask questions because the questions you ask reveal aspects of your personality and how well you truly know the company and its culture. Don't expect a favorable hiring decision if you do not ask any questions or if you ask mundane questions.

4. No Problem-Solving Skills

Your job interview is a great time to showcase your problem-solving skills. If you can't solve a hypothetical problem presented to you, the future employer might not think too favorably because you'll need to solve problems on a daily basis while on the job. Put some thought behind your judgment before answering questions about how to solve unique problems.

5. Not Backing Up Your Credentials

Good references, awards, degrees and accolades are great. However, an employer wants to know what you can do in the present as opposed to what you've done in the past. An interview roots out your soft skills, while your resume shows your qualifications. Your resume and the information on it is what landed you the interview in the first place. Backing up your credentials with the right interpersonal skills, intelligence and soft skills is what the interview entails.

There are many reasons behind a company's hiring decision and why you may not land a job. Having sharp recall skills and witty answers is a good start. However, a company hires people for each position rather than biochemical robots who can memorize facts, responses and names.

Photo courtesy of Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net


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  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    @Julie N thanks for your comment. There are many articles here on our sites that offer suggestions for interview questions. Log on to your account and then click on the icon Interests that you will find at the top of the page and then click Career Advice. There you can find many questions that you might ask. Honestly - ask what you want to know. Check out the company. See what is happening with them and then create your questions based upon that. Make sure, at the end, that you ask about next steps. Get a business card from the interviewer, if he has one. If not, jot down his contact information so that you can follow up. A nice touch after the interview is to send a handwritten thank you note - through the mail. Send it immediately after the interview so that everything is fresh. If questions arose after the interview, ask them in the thank you note. Keeps the lines of communication open and they will appreciate it.

  • Julie N.
    Julie N.

    Can you suggest some questions to ask the interviewer?

  • Julie N.
    Julie N.

    great article. thanks

  • David S.
    David S.

    Good information helpful

  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    @Mindy P thanks for your comment. Sometimes it's best to just tell it like it is. No emotion, no finger-pointing - just the facts and then move on. Don't dwell on it and don't keep answering questions about it unless it's relevant to the position for which you are being interviewed. If he pushes, change the subject - quickly. He will get the hint and will move on, too. This is your interview. If you get bogged down in the why's, your interview is over. That's why it's best to just tell it and then maybe ask him a question such as I saw on the job posting that blah, blah, blah - and get his attention focused on that instead. Don't be rude, of course. And honestly, if he continues trying to ask questions, simply say this is what happened so can we talk about the position that I am here for. Let us know how it goes.

  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    Thanks for the great comments. Doesn't sound like getting an interview is tough for any of you. It's that ageism rearing its ugly head again. @Matthew Siegel not sure how these companies get away with asking graduation dates since it truly does give them a pretty good idea of your age. As an attorney, maybe you can take a run at this to get it stopped. Pretty much every application asks for graduation dates and doesn't let you proceed until you input a valid date. Now, on your resumes, don't put HS grad dates. And, if your college completion date was more than 10 years ago, don't put that date, either. Your resume should only include the past 10 years if you can get away with that. Sometimes we have to put more than that one in order to show that we have experience in a particular type of job but, if you don't have that issue, only show 10 years. Make sure that you are networking, too. Reach out to old contacts - former coworkers who maybe are working at a company of interest. Look around your area for job fairs and networking events. Check on your state unemployment site, too, for other helpful hints. Check out some of the local temp agencies in your area. May not get your dream job but will hopefully make enough to keep the roof over your head and food on the table. Search out a good recruiter who can present you to the company first so that the age issue does not come up. When you do get an interview, make sure that you stress your reliability, flexibility and so on. Let them know that you are done raising your kids and are committed to being the best employee for the position. Make sure that you are sending a hand-written thank you note (by snail mail) after the interview. Sounds silly but it can be enough to put you over the top. Sometimes you just have to be bold, too. For instance, at the end of an interview, we were shaking hands and talking about next steps and I looked him straight in the eye and said - are you really going to call me. Kind of took him aback for a second or two and then he said he would call me when the decision was made. He did call but I didn't get the job. He did thank me for my assertiveness. (LOL) Granted this won't always work but sometimes you have to step outside of yourself. Especially if you are looking at those unemployment checks ending. In addition, when they ask for your graduation date, you don't have to answer. This is your interview; your chance at a position. Don't be afraid to step out of the box and be an individual. Don't be afraid to ask the tough questions back. When the interview is over, don't be afraid to ask - are you really going to call me? All the best.


    While I am a 61 year-old, former practicing attorney who has had no small degree of difficulty obtaining a position as a senior liability insurance claims professional in the Greater New York metropolitan area, suffice it to say that in addition to the fact that the lion's share of my most recent work experience has been as an independent contractor, I verily believe that my age based on the years of experience listed in my resume has also been a detracting factor That said, however, I never list graduation dates, and am of the understanding that it is illegal under Federal law for a prospective employer to inquire during the application or interview process regarding any information which directly or indirectly involuntarily reveals a candidate's age. Hence, any employer who asks is not only rude and boorish -- and likely not worth working for, but probably treading on thin ice legally. .

  • mindy p.
    mindy p.

    How do you answer the questions why you left your last job when you resigned in Lou of termination? It was the one and only mistake I made in 30 years with this company and they were going to fire me so I resigned! I had two associates sign off that they completed training when they did not! Is it best to tell the truth?

  • Rick P.
    Rick P.

    Allan Fett..Going through the same issues...Age... 63 years old but look 50...25 years of one job experience and interviews go great...asked graduation date, and and get that email that says that they decided to go with a candidate who had better qualifications. Very Frustrating!!

  • Cindy Koplowitz
    Cindy Koplowitz

    Same exact problem with the age thing and it is getting very frustrating! I have gone on several interviews that I know went very well and yet I still don't have a job. The fact is I probably have more energy than my 2 kids combined, want stability and have no intention of retiring or jumping around for a better offer like a lot of the kids do. I never had a problem getting a job when I was younger. My unemployment is running out and it is very scary. I don't know what to do anymore. The whole situation is so demoralizing!

  • Lynelle P.
    Lynelle P.

    My interviews have been great (lots of phone and face, and one web), asking the right questions, interacting with the interviewers (usually in IT it's a panel of 3), dressing and looking professional, solving the problems given to me. Yet I still don't have a job! Why? Because I'm an older white woman. I won't go into the age thing, but being a white woman with 25 years experience does NOT help! IT industry has a HUGE problem! It's hiring young foreign males with H1B's and certificates. Yeah, I can get certs (unemployment office is getting me the funds so I can afford it), but certs don't tell the whole story. Experience and degrees do NOT count for anything in this country anymore! I'm doomed, and will probably be on the streets homeless and hungry come May when the unemployment checks run out. Wish we Americans could just flood foreign countries and take their jobs away from them!!!

  • Rosemary B.
    Rosemary B.

    Great article I'm going through the same issues because of my age, but I'm not giving up older people have to pay bills and live too.


    When an interviewer starts off with, “What makes you think you want to be... [the job you’ve done for xx years]” it is pretty much obvious the outcome...

  • steven d.
    steven d.

    i just say sometime ago

  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    Thanks again for the great comments. Yes it is very true that companies get around the age question by asking when you graduated from HS. Wonder what would happen if everyone responded with all nines such as 99-9999 for month and year. Might be interesting to try it and find out. It is true that you can't get around that question. Legally, not sure how they get away with it. I, too, have encountered the same thing when applying for a job. @T.G.M. the concerning part about your comment was the "robo-software" type responses which means that you probably are not talking to a human but to a bot. Run! From personal experience here, that robo-sounding voice on the other end of the phone probably is a bot. My daughter ran into just such an issue. The "company" even went so far as to send her a check to buy the equipment she needed for the position. We turned the check over to the local police and contacted the actual company to let them know this was going on. The company was in Japan and they were very grateful to know about it. @Alllan Fett thanks for your comments. I, too, have found the same statistics regarding how long an employee stays in any one position. Us "older" job seekers will accept a position and stay for as long as possible but the millennials do job hop a LOT. It's like they are searching for that allusive something that they just can not find. @Nabil Z. thanks for your comments,, too. It can be quite uncomfortable during an interview. Nerves certainly get the best of us. So prior to the interview, research the company and find out everything that you can about them. Any questions that come up during the research, write them down. Any questions regarding the actual position, write them down. Have them in front of you during the interview. You can cross them off if they get answered during the course of the interview and can even jot down a quick response on your list so that you can look at it later. This way you can focus on the actual interview and not be thinking about the questions that you need to ask. Also, just having that tablet in front of you or on your lap, gives you something to hold on to calm the nerves and keep from shaking. Trust me - that interviewer knows that you are nothing but a bundle of nerves. The interviewer, also, might have cold, clammy hand, too. Maybe this is the first time he/she has been involved in an interview from the other side of the desk. Maybe they aren't sure what to say to you, either. Try the notebook idea and see if it helps. All the best to all of you. Thanks again for the great comments.

  • Allan Fett
    Allan Fett

    Barry Young - they can't ask questions that directly or indirectly gives an indication of your age. The question about what year you graduated from high school falls into this category. The EEOC would be very interested in knowing about this.\

  • T. G. M.
    T. G. M.

    If HR heads know a given company should not ask directly or indirectly about age during hiring, why do almost all of the company websites ask about the year you graduated high school and current/previous salary? A jobseeker can't proceed to the next screen during the "profile" submittal until completing those fields. Is it acceptable to "lie" about age to avoid being screened out by the robe-software, since HR will eventually find out the truth? Additionally, I have found it difficult to connect with recruiters now. The recruiters that contact me seem to be robo-software too and very, very (VERY!) off base with the job "opportunities" that they send me.

  • barry young
    barry young

    when asked what year I graduated from HS-a clever way of getting around age discrimination, and I say 1970....I've gotten several hangups, nothing further...

  • Carlos B.
    Carlos B.

    This is a good article.

  • Allan Fett
    Allan Fett

    The age discrimination laws are a paper tiger. HR people will recognize they aren't supposed to go down that road but hiring managers who are in operations don't care. They are under this false assumption that they will get more value from a younger candidate and have more longevity (there's that word again) and continuity. In theory it sounds good but in reality it's another story. If they took the time to do their due diligence, they would discover that, statistically, the BB generation worker changes job an average of 3 times in their career. The millennial worker stays in a job, on average, 3 years. So much for longevity and continuity.

  • Allan Fett
    Allan Fett

    Ah, the age question. "They can't ask any questions that would directly or indirectly relate to your age if you're over forty." Nice in theory and law but it is a joke in reality. I've been in the interview processes for a number of jobs and have normally sailed through the phone interview stage. The in person is another story. I've gotten questions with buzz words like "longevity" and "where do you see yourself in 5 years, 10 years" or do you feel you have the "stamina" to do the job. All of this is to probe the age issue. One interview I was asked in a follow up to submit an abbreviated marketing plan for the sales territory. I submitted one and the hiring manager said it was great and very impressive. However, it ended up I didn't get the job. I was told that they decided to go with a candidate who had better qualifications. Really! I found the person they eventually hired on LinkedIn. I have many more years of industry specific experience, they wanted a Bachelor's degree and I have an MBA. Better qualifications? BS!!

  • Nabil Z.
    Nabil Z.

    It posted the comment when I only wanted to move down a line. Anyhow, how do you ask questions? What kind of questions? What are mundane questions? I think your article is spot on.... Thank you for sharing!

  • Nabil Z.
    Nabil Z.

    No. 3.... How do you ask questions? I come from a communist country and even though I lived for a long time in the States, I still get fear in the interviews. You see, dictators spend a lot of effort raising generations who don't speak, think or say no so they can ensure no one will rise against them. So for me, I get very nervous in the interview... My hands get cold and I get sweaty and I can't ask any questions even though they ask me if I have any question.

  • Atonya M.
    Atonya M.

    I truly enjoyed reading this article because I feel it talks about and some of skills I believe I may be lacking. Great article

  • theresa w.
    theresa w.

    Great advice!

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