Why was I rejected after the job interview? Was it me, or was it them?

Sometimes when you apply for a job you do so more in hope than expectation. Perhaps you don’t have quite enough experience, but you thought it was worth giving it a go. In this situation, being rejected may be disappointing, but it is also understandable. 
Other rejections, however, may come as something of a surprise. On paper you may be the ideal candidate, but something must have been missing. Here are some of the most common reasons why good candidates get rejected.

job rejection

Company Culture Fit

You may match the job specification perfectly, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that you are the best person for the job. Many companies will also assess whether you are likely to fit in with the culture of the company and get on with your colleagues. The best way of ensuring this is to make sure that you come across as a well-rounded individual. Employers do want to look for an employee who would fit the company culture. You can get these feelers during the interview. Some questions on teamwork, passion and hobbies are examples of ‘culture-screening’ during an interview.

Always research well on company culture before applying for a position and more so before the interview. Make sure you have attributes on your resume that aren’t purely academic or work-related. Instead, let your personality and interests shine through. If you’ve got a hobby that you’re passionate about, even if it isn’t directly relevant to the job, be sure to mention it.


Additional Skills

I have heard a recruiter say, “It’s like everyone has a 4.0 GPA!” As the competition grows, how do you stand out? If employers have to differentiate between two evenly matched candidates, then it might only be a minor factor that leads to your rejection. In order to reduce the likelihood of this happening, try to acquire extra life skills that will look good on your CV.

Being able to speak another language, completing CPR certification courses to demonstrate your first aid training, or volunteering with a local charity are all ways to give yourself a slight edge over your fellow candidates. They will demonstrate that you enjoy seeking out new skills for reasons outside of career development.


Reasons that are Beyond your Control

Sometimes there’s very little you could have done differently as part of your application. The recruiters may have changed the job specification after your application had already been submitted and on other occasions software might have been used to differentiate between candidates, with varying levels of accuracy.

What’s more, perhaps you just don’t match what the hiring manager had in mind. You may be more than capable of carrying out the job, but they envisioned a candidate with a slightly different personality, background or age. internal hiring is also quite prevalent, there’s always a possibility that an internal hire was made during the interview process and the position was closed before they could get back to you. If this is the case, all you can do is take the rejection on the chin and get applying once again.


Approach and Application

However, there are things that are under your control if you approach the process well. A reason why good candidates come up short is that they don’t have much experience with the job application process. You might struggle with CV writing, interviews or self-promotion – and there’s no shame in any of this. Invest and look around for retargets and help that can get your resume to shine. What’s the value you bring to the job? What makes you better than the thousand others who applied for the job? How would you spruce up your resume to get the foot through the door?

And then comes the process of interview and presentation. One of the best way of improving your chances is to get as much practice as you can. You can carry out mock interviews or attend CV workshops, but the best experience is to go through the application process for real. Ask for feedback when things don’t go to plan and be willing to learn from your mistakes. If you see rejection as the first step to employment then you won’t be waiting long for job success.


Rejections are never the end, they are are part of the process. They teach us that something needs to improve. We are all worth another chance. Go and get better, never let a rejection or many that come your way, stop you.