12 Reasons Why Your Interview Went Well but You Got Rejected
Updated April 7, 2023
As part of the job search process, you may attend multiple interviews for jobs that excite you. Sometimes you complete an interview where you have a great rapport with the hiring manager and feel confident in your answers, but still don't receive a job offer. Understanding why this situation happens can help you apply constructive feedback to future interviews and remain positive as you continue applying to jobs.
In this article, we share 12 possible reasons why your interview went well but your application was rejected, plus strategies for improving your interview skills in the future.v
12 reasons why your interview went well but your application was rejected
Here are some of the common reasons hiring managers don't extend job offers even after a great interview:
1. Company culture match
Even if you provide excellent responses to every question in an interview, you may not earn a job offer if the hiring manager doesn't feel that you're a good culture fit for the company. Sometimes your personality or professional values simply don't align with the way the organization functions. For example, if you have a highly creative and independent mindset, you may not thrive at a company that works in a structured way with high levels of supervision.
During interviews, hiring managers may ask questions that specifically address the culture at their organization and how you can fit in with their team. If you're concerned about getting rejected due to culture fit, browse the company's website ahead of time and find attributes about the environment that you can mention in your answers.
2. Competition among applicants
Regardless of how excellent your interview is, sometimes there are other applicants who have stronger qualifications. It's important to recognize that multiple people interview for jobs, especially if you're looking for a role in a competitive industry. When a prospective employer chooses another applicant, remind yourself that even though someone else earned that particular opportunity, you still have excellent professional qualities.
You can work to gain more qualifications or just apply to more jobs until you find a situation that's a good match for your skills and experience. If you impressed an employer during an interview but they decided to hire another applicant, they may even keep your contact information and reach out if other positions become available.
3. Interactions with other employees
Making a great impression on the hiring team is essential for getting a job offer, but it's also important to have a good relationship with other people at the company. If you have any negative interactions with other individuals at the business, it may influence your reputation with the hiring manager.
For example, being curt with the building's administrative assistant while you wait for your interview may cause the interviewer to think that you don't have the professional demeanor or team mindset to succeed at the company. Being mindful of your behavior at all times and emphasizing politeness during interactions with potential colleagues is good practice for professional behavior.
4. Timing at the interview
Punctuality is a key aspect of professionalism, so it's something that hiring managers pay attention to during interviews. If you're late to an interview, you may not be able to recover from that first impression. Sometimes circumstances outside of your control cause delays, so plan ahead for your next interview. You also want to avoid arriving too early and inconveniencing the interviewers. Consider arriving early at a nearby coffee shop and waiting there until about 10 or 15 minutes before your interview, when you can proceed to the waiting area.
5. Communication during the process
Once you finish the interview, responding to messages in a timely manner is key to getting an offer. Having an amazing interview is less impressive if the interviewer has a difficult time contacting you about a job offer or seeking any additional information about your application. If the interviewer reaches out and you wait a week to respond, they may reconsider their opinion of you as a reliable professional. Remember that all of your actions affect how your potential employer perceives you, even after the interview ends.
6. Issues complying with directions
If you had a good experience at an interview, connected well with the hiring manager and feel that you're a good fit for the company's culture, think about any directions or instructions for the interview. Some interviews have skills tests or practical assignments where you complete a project, which requires you to follow directions. Interviewers may also ask you to do something simple, like bring copies of your application or other materials.
Forgetting to complete a task, completing instructions incorrectly or having trouble complying with a request may cause an interviewer to be unsure about your ability to follow through on your duties. You can prevent this in the future by reading any prompts carefully, confirming expectations with the interviewer ahead of time and asking clarifying questions.
7. Visual details
Being polished and having a professional demeanor is key to getting a job. Presentation is more important for some positions than others, but most interviewers expect you to put effort into your appearance and outfit for an interview. Small visual details like having an unironed jacket, scuffed shoes or mismatched clothing can detract from how you represent yourself as a professional.
If you interviewed at a job where you interact with clients and have to uphold a social reputation, your interviewer may have decided to offer the job to someone who spent more time organizing their professional appearance. Coordinate an interview outfit and give yourself plenty of time before an interview to get ready and limit the chance of cosmetic reasons impacting your career success.
8. Body language
Interviewers often look at your body language in an interview to make inferences about your character and personality. Even if your verbal communication was great, your physical communication may have dissuaded interviewers from offering you a job. Nervousness and a lack of confidence can often come through in your body language cues. Learning how to project confidence in your body language takes practice, which you can gain as you complete more applications or go through exercises like mock interviews.
9. Social media posts
After an interview, a hiring manager may do an online search to review your presence online. Sometimes, hiring managers decide against giving job offers to applicants with active, public social media accounts because they want to keep their online business brand associated with professional activities only. To avoid this situation, you can limit who can view your social media posts online.
10. Professional boundaries
Having a good rapport with someone in an interview is usually a great sign, but being too friendly with someone in an interview can actually hinder you from getting a job. Discussing personal issues with someone during an interview may indicate a lack of professional boundaries that can cause some hiring managers to have concerns. Although it's nice to have an honest and trusting relationship with a potential employer, carefully consider if the details you share in an interview add value to your professional reputation.
11. Lack of follow-up
When applying for a job with high levels of competition, you may need to show that you're passionate about the position and follow up with the hiring manager to get a job offer. If other applicants send a thank-you note or email and you don't, the interviewer may think that you don't care as much about the job, even if it's your top choice. Many hiring managers consider your investment in the process just as much as the actual interview. Be proactive and follow up quickly with a thoughtful note thanking the interviewer for their time and consideration.
12. Ideas about longevity
Interviewers assess many different aspects of a candidate's suitability for a position, including their future at a company. If you expressed plans to transition to another job, go to college or move soon, the hiring manager may want to choose a candidate that they can rely on to stay at the company longer. Even if you're the best fit for the position, the interviewer may be more concerned about longevity. When applying for a job that you know is just a transitional role in your career, keep details about your future plans private to increase your chances of earning the job.
Tips for improving your interview skills
Here are some tips you can apply to your interviewing process to enhance your skills:
Ask for feedback after rejections: When you hear from a hiring manager that you didn't get a job after a promising interview, ask for constructive criticism about how you can improve for future interviews. They may be able to share relevant suggestions from the employer's perspective that you can immediately use in your job search.
Rehearse your answers: The day or week before you go to a job interview, practice giving answers to potential questions for the role. Although you may not be able to predict the exact questions for each interview, you can look up common topics hiring managers discuss when interviewing for certain positions.
Be confident in your skills: Believe in your own abilities and competence when answering questions. Try practicing in front of a mirror to adjust your body language and project confidence in your posture and expression.
Study each job opportunity: For every interview, research the company and position to learn about their values, mission and company structure. This helps you develop thoughtful questions and engage with current employees on a genuine level.
Treat every role like your top option: Although you may have multiple options and have other long-term career goals, project passion during the interview by acting like every interview is for your dream job.
Pay attention to details: Focus on what your interviewers tell you and notice specifics in how they phrase questions. You can use attention to detail to adjust your responses and ultimately make a better impression on the hiring team.
Nonverbal communication is one of many tools that can help you make a good impression in interviews and in your professional life. However, candidate assessments should be based on skills and qualifications, and workplaces should strive to be inclusive and understanding of individual differences in communication styles.
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