Get Paid to Share Your Expertise
Help shape the future of business through market research studies.See Research Studies
You’ve just finished the last round of interviews for a job you’re excited about. You think you have a good chance of landing an offer! You met the job posting’s qualifications perfectly and offered compelling answers to every question the hiring manager asked in the interviews. But a week later, you receive the bad news: you didn’t land the job.
Like the diligent applicant you are, you decide to search for a reason for why you were passed over. But this one is a real head-scratcher. You’re confident that you ticked every box!
Of course, there are instances where someone even more exceptional than you swoop in and nabs a position you otherwise would have been offered.
But other times, there are hidden “real” reasons you didn’t get the offer. More likely than not, you would never be hired no matter how qualified or how well you performed.
Here are a few of these “real” reasons that you might not be offered a position.
1. The hiring manager already had someone in mind for the job – before it was even posted.
You might not have been in the running in situations like these in the first place. Sometimes, someone who already worked at the organization was “promised” the job. Perhaps they had put in years at the organization or were next in line for a promotion – and posting the job externally was just a formality.
“Many organizations require an open requisition period for hiring, even when the hiring manager already knows they are promoting an internal employee to fill the role. So an advertised job posting is just there to ‘check the box for HR,” said career coach Chrissy Scivicque.
2. You didn’t have an employee referral – and another candidate did.
If you’re referred by someone who already works at the company, you’re four times more likely to get the job than someone who applied online. Though the statistics on employee referrals are limited, estimates suggest that 30 to 40 percent of employees are hired through such referrals.
If you were equivalent to another candidate, the hiring manager might have opted to hire the person with the employee referral.
3. Another candidate checked a box that you didn’t.
You never know why hiring managers prefer one candidate to another. Perhaps they want to hire someone who reminds them of themselves. Or maybe they’re pressured to offer the job to a candidate with particular political or personal connections.
“Hiring decisions are often a part of a complicated web of politics— favors, power struggles, bureaucracy… You cannot know what happened behind the scenes that led to the final outcome. You might be perfect for the position, but when these other factors are in play, there’s little, if anything, you can do differently to get the offer,” Scivicque said.
4. The hiring manager liked someone else better.
Another reason you might not have gotten the job? Someone else focused more on being “friends” with the hiring manager than you did. Subconsciously or not, some unscrupulous hiring managers might favor candidates with whom they would like to have a beer after work.
“They’ll often ask themselves questions like, ‘which candidate do I have the best chemistry with?’ or ‘who do I get along with the most?’ This is why during your interviews, your goal shouldn’t just be to show the interviewer you’re the best person for the job. It would help if you also were actively trying to build rapport with them,” said Peter Yang for CNBC.
5. You’re too bright or too good-looking.
You might have thought you were a shoo-in for a job because you presented yourself as a highly-competent employee. But, believe it or not, there are situations where this very credibility could come back to bite you.
“[It] can happen that an insecure manager may select a B grade candidate who can simply do the job over one who can do the job so well, and bring so much to the table, that could quickly outshine them,” said Workopolis.
Good-looking women could also find themselves passed over for positions.
“Speaking of looking good, psychological studies have shown that there is a hiring bias against beautiful women for some roles…This reluctance to hire the beautiful was particularly noted amongst female managers evaluating candidates they considered much more attractive than themselves,” the website continued.
Managers should refrain from bringing their personal hang-ups into the hiring process, but you never know when your excellence could be the real reason they’re not offering you the position.
Moving Past the “Real” Reasons, You Didn’t Land a Job Offer
It is undoubtedly disheartening not to land a job for which you felt imminently qualified. What’s even more maddening is not getting a reason (or at least not a “real” reason) why the job offer went to another candidate.
The bottom line is to do your due diligence to determine if you could have done something differently in the hiring process. Accept that you did all you could if you feel confident in your written and verbal materials.
Unfortunately, hiring can sometimes be political. The good news? You wouldn’t want to work at a company with a hiring process like that; a below-board hiring process likely signals a less-than-ethical company culture.
Upgrade to All-Access, and schedule a free 15-minute call with our Senior Career Advisor to go through your resume together.