resume is on point. You nailed the interview. And then, nothing. What gives? Turns out, a lot of things…or nothing at all. As maddening as it is, the reason you didn’t get a job could be because the hiring manager just discovered that the budget for the position was not as high as she thought it was. Or she just didn’t feel the same click she did with you as she did with another candidate. Or a million other reasons.
How do we know? Because we asked hiring managers to share their candid (and anonymous) explanations for why they didn’t hire someone. Of course, there are legal guardrails in place to prevent discrimination (and if you think that was a factor in why you didn’t get a job, you should absolutely seek legal counsel), but there's also a murky gray area where it
is kind of subjective, and maybe even personal.
You don't want to spend too much time focusing on why a job opportunity didn't work out. But if you're going crazy wondering why, exactly, you didn't get an offer, read on. And then move on — there will be other jobs, we promise.
You Had A Reputation “I had heard some weird stories about them from a previous coworker — they just seemed to have baggage that other candidates didn't have.”
You Skipped A Shower “They seemed to have bad personal hygiene. Okay, let’s be honest. The candidate had dirt under his nails and seemed like he had body odor. It was distracting.”
You Were Distracted “I have had a few candidates play with their hair or accessories and it makes me wonder about how they’ll act in front of clients.”
You Lied “Their resume was totally different than their LinkedIn profile. Next!”
You Embellished “They totally lied about how much experience they'd had at their internship. I knew a few people who worked at the company, so I asked about their internship program. The way the candidate had spoken about it, it sounded like she was responsible for shepherding through a few projects to completion. That turned out not to be the case.”
You Had Too Much Experience “She was too experienced! She seemed great but had graduated from college a few years before me and really should have been a level above me — it was easier to hire someone right out of school because they would stay for longer.”
You Talked Up Another Company “She made it clear that my company was her second choice. During her whole interview, she kept on talking about how great Company X was. Last I heard, she was working there, so good for her?”
You Were Late “He was late. And then blamed the subways. I get it, because the subways can be unpredictable, but you should prepare for that. And blaming the subway made me feel like he would likely blame other people for things that went wrong if he did come on board with us.”
You Didn’t Pay Attention To Detail “She pronounced my name wrong. My name is Laura, and she kept saying Lauren. Come on! That's basic reading. On that note, I had a discussion with a colleague who has a difficult to pronounce name, and she says that she far prefers it if a candidate asks her preferred pronunciation rather than assume — it's okay to not know, and what makes a candidate stand out is if you can tell they're curious and courteous.”
You Weren’t Local “Honestly, she was great but she lived in Florida and from the conversation we had, it sounded like moving would be tough. We're a small firm and couldn't pay for relocation fees or promise a full-time position. Ultimately, it went to someone local.”
You Got Controversial “He brought up politics. This year was an incredibly high pressure year, but you just can't assume someone has the same political views as you do. Making a Trump joke was just out of place — I'm a Hillary supporter, but I was recruiting for a pretty buttoned-up law firm and it made me nervous about the way the candidate would handle himself in front of senior-level employees and clients.”
You Crossed A Line “I loved one candidate and we joked around a bit at the interview. But in her thank you note, she joked about how she was "stealing time" from her temp job by emailing me. It made me second-guess her — I know we all respond to personal emails at our work desks, but I don't think it's something you should joke about with a hiring manager you just met.”
You Overstayed Your Welcome “She didn't take the hint! I tried to escort her out of my office five times when we were wrapping up and she just kept bringing up new topics of conversation. We work in PR and I was like, ugh, she just doesn't get people's cues — bad news.”
Your Online Persona Was Found Out "I recognized her name from a mom message board! I looked up some of her comments and she was SUPER mean and negative about her nanny. It just rubbed me the wrong way. I think I would have overlooked it, but we had a few great candidates so to me, this just tipped the balance toward 'no.'"
Your “Friend” Told Stories About You “I knew her through a friend of a friend and heard some stories about her — I didn't want the drama in the office.”
You Seemed Like A Show-Off “She put her purse right on top of my desk — on top of my piles of paper and everything. I think it was because she wanted to show off the label. Not impressed!"
Your Follow-Up Game Was Too Intense “She followed up EVERY SINGLE DAY. Honestly? I'll let you know when I know!”
You Got Outside Help “I had given her a project to take home to show off the way she worked/thought and she admitted she had her boyfriend help her with it. Seriously?”
You Accidentally Insulted The Hiring Manager “He went to an Ivy League school and made a comment about the fact I had went to a small, no-name college. It was very man-splainy, like, 'Look how well you did to get to this job when you went to that school!'"
You Didn’t Dress To Impress “He wore ripped jeans and a T-shirt. The culture of our firm is pretty low-key — it's a creative agency — but there's a difference between looking creative and casual and looking like you picked up the first thing you found on the floor. He was definitely wearing the latter.”
You Had Your Phone Out “She texted during our interview.”
Your Email Address Wasn’t Professional “She shared an email address with her partner, which just struck me as odd. There were other reasons too, but that was a red flag that made me not want to call her in for an interview.”
You Didn’t Show “He didn't show up. I called him 10 minutes after the interview had started and he told me his car had broken down. I get it, these things happen, but you couldn't have called me before? It made me think he just forgot.”
You Badmouthed Your Current Gig “She badmouthed her current boss, which just put a really bad taste in my mouth.”
You Got Too Personal “This wasn't the deal breaker, but one candidate did show me pictures of her wedding which was ... odd? We were chatting to break the ice and she mentioned she'd gotten married the month before. Great! Happy for her, but don't need to see the pictures!”
You Overstepped Boundaries “I had a box of cookies on my desk that had been sent by a client. She immediately zeroed in on them, talking about what calorie bombs they were and I wasn't going to eat them, was I? I think she may have been nervous and just chattering but it was weird.”