Like a bad breakup, an unsuccessful job interview can leave you feeling broken and rejected, wondering why you never got a call back. While a recruiter will rarely tell you why you were bypassed, the truth is, most rejections are due to the same basic issues. Occasionally the situation is simply out of your control, but sometimes you have to recognize that they’re just not that into you.
Here are eight possible reasons why:
1. You didn’t have chemistry. As frustratingly simple as this explanation is, sometimes it’s true—you and the interviewer just didn’t click. This could happen for a number of reasons: Your nervousness was a turnoff, they didn’t get your sense of humor (or you didn’t get theirs), or you may have come off as overly confident. Whatever their reasoning, the interviewer decided that your personality wasn’t a good fit for the company culture, and they could be right.
2. You were overeager. Much as in dating, an overeager job candidate can be a big turnoff. Constantly calling to check in, sending incessant emails and dropping in to say hello is not only unprofessional, but a waste of the employer’s time. Play it cool, remain calm, and patiently wait for that call back.
3. You weren’t eager enough. No self-respecting person (or company) wants to be with someone who doesn’t want to be with them. If you go into an interview with the attitude that you can do better than that position and you’re not remotely excited about it, chances are the interviewer will pick up on your negative vibes and keep looking for someone with more enthusiasm and commitment.
4. You lied. Maybe you just stretched the truth a little bit about a previous job. Or you told the interviewer that you are proficient in a skill of which you actually have zero knowledge. Your dishonesty will eventually come to light, and you’ll probably have to pay dearly for it. The occasional omission is acceptable, but straight-up lying rarely benefits anyone.
5. You have a rocky past. We’re not talking about crazy ex-boyfriends here. If your past jobs have ended poorly or you butted heads with former bosses, potential employers can dig up that information as easily as they can dial a telephone. Rather than allow yourself to be blindsided by a bitter former boss, make sure that you’re completely honest and up-front about your past during the interview so they won’t find any unpleasant surprises. Just be careful not to bad-mouth your ex-bosses—that’s just not professional.
6. You didn’t take care with your appearance. Even in a casual workplace, it’s important to look professional during the interview. Everyone else may be wearing jeans in the office, but you can show your commitment and respect for the position by dressing nicely and properly grooming yourself. True, a three-piece suit might not be appropriate for an interview at a small tech startup, but still take care to choose an outfit that shows that you have style and class.
7. You seemed like a gold-digger. We all want to be paid what we deserve, but it’s not a good idea to go into an interview with money being your main focus. It’s perfectly acceptable to ask about the salary, but don’t lead with that question, and don’t spend too much time on it either.
8. There’s someone else. Rejection has an added sting when you realize that someone else was chosen over you. But when it comes to jobs, keep in mind that that other person who did get the job may have been better qualified, better connected or even simply willing to work for less money. There’s also a good chance that the company decided to hire from within, and it’s difficult to compete with that.
Whatever reason you didn’t get the job, just as in dating, it’s important to bounce back quickly. Dust yourself off and keep looking because there are plenty of fish in the sea.