10 Reasons Why You Were Rejected After The Job Interview: Corporate Hiring Secrets That No One Speaks About, Ever!

Have you been rejected after your job interview? Now we have all walked this path. Rejection may have become all too familiar to the extent that you have convinced yourself that there is definitely something that’s not quite right about you. You might have even Googled for the probable reason or reasons why you might have not been hired for the job role that perfectly aligned with your expertise, your credentials, and your professional goals. You are desperate to find out the reasons why you were rejected after the job interview. You really believed that this job description fits your profile like a glove or even that you were born to do this job. The interview too might have gone extremely well, just like how you wanted it to be. Your interviewers would have seemed pleased with your answers and you know for sure that you could not have done any better. They would have even gone to the extent of informing you that you will hear from them soon and it was an absolute pleasure to converse with you. Then, a few days later, you receive a rejection email from the HR team. And, suddenly, it feels like you are a failure and that the whole universe is conspiring to make you feel like a loser.

10 Unholy Reasons Why You Were Rejected After The Job Interview

Much of the information that you would come across regarding the reasons as to why you were not hired, will probably cite the need to improve yourself, update your resume or skill set, work on your communication skills, get certified, or even get a makeover so that you become a better fit for similar profiles that come your way in the future. But honestly, even if you were the best candidate for the job role, there could be multitude of external factors for your rejection that has nothing to do with your competency as a candidate. Well, unfortunately, the corporate world is not perfect and neither are the Hiring Managers.

Unusual Reasons Why You Were Rejected After The Job Interview

Here are some genuine, not-so-talked about reasons why you have not been hired for the job.

1.     Difference of opinion between the long line of hiring managers: If you lack sufficient corporate exposure, you may be under the belief that the final hiring decision is made by the person or the panel who interviewed you. This is not always true. Most organizations, especially the ones with a global footprint would have a long line of hiring managers or approvers to initiate and close a requisition. The latest employee hiring portals have non-linear hiring protocol with respect to the different hierarchical stages of approval. Such complicated, digitized systems are in place to ensure that the hiring process fair and unbiased. But the practice does backfire occasionally and is not 100% foolproof. In small-scale organizations or start-ups with flat hierarchies, decisions are made collectively by the team or certain members of the team. Cross-functional roles may also be subjected to disparate opinions from different team managers. Such scenarios will also give rise to varying opinions. The more significance your profile has within the organizational structure, the more complicated will be the hiring process and the subsequent selection. Though many managers may not have interviewed you in person, they may have an opinion about your candidature, which may not be positive. It will be up to your direct hiring manager to do the convincing. And, this is never easy. There are also times that all the functional hiring managers are keen on hiring you, but the HR managers may share a different opinion about you. This is to say that your interviewer or hiring manager is central to the hiring process but they are not the only sole decision makers in the hiring.

2.     You are an expensive hire: You may be a senior candidate with an exceptional CV or you may come with credentials which are second to none. Your salary expectations might have been in line with the budget limit for the requisition (though slightly skewed to the upper budget limit) but there’s always a possibility that senior hiring managers would want to save money. Let us face the fact that there will always be a shortage of funds or budget cuts in almost all organizations including successful ones. They would, in turn, suggest that it would be better to hire two candidates for the cost of one. Companies would rather invest in the hiring and up-skilling of less-salaried junior employees than in the hiring of experienced senior professionals. This trend is evidently on the rise, especially in the IT Sector. Companies are willing to compromise work quality for extra productivity. It has, therefore, become challenging for senior professionals to identify and secure jobs that are worth their time and experience.

3.     You’ve hurt someone’s ego, unintentionally: You had your game face on during the interview and might have scored every time you answered. Your confidence would have, inadvertently, made an interviewer or someone in the selection panel feel uneasy. In simple words, someone might have found your presence or personality to be intimidating. You may not have had any intention of appearing too smart or over confident. There are also situations when an interviewer gets irked by the fact that the interviewee is more qualified or more experienced or simply smarter than herself/himself. They might feel that hiring you may put their job or position at risk especially if they have been living under the veil of self-doubt or they are uncertain about their professional abilities. Additionally, hiring managers often cite the need to hire employees who will not question their competency or knowledge. The responses of many candidates are often construed as “lacking the tenacity to learn”, “the candidate is a know-it-all”, “the candidate is too stubborn”, “the candidate is over confident”, “the candidate cannot be trained”, “the candidate will not to adhere to organizational objectives”.

4.     You are a new mom, with a young child: As cringe worthy as it seems, there’s adequate research to suggest that mothers face discrimination in getting hired. While women are still fending off the crippling effects of years of systemic prejudice and work place discrimination, mothers are finding it even harder to get hired. This becomes evidently problematic when the interviewers learn that the mother is the care taker of a young child. They will, then, show unnecessary concern by probing about the child’s welfare by callously hurling questions like, “so, who will take care of the child?”, “do you have support at home?” etc.  Young Women’s Trust research identified that “one in four young mothers in the UK has experienced discrimination when their employer found out they were pregnant”. But post-child birth, the job hunting game itself takes a turn for the worse. Employers become worried about the potential number of days the mother might take leave because of having to take care of her child/children. They might also conveniently assume that a mother might not be able stretch extra hours or go the extra mile to meet work related deadlines.

5.     Your entrepreneurial endeavour: While an increasing number of youngsters are enticed by the idea of starting and running their own business, it may indeed stand in their way of landing their dream job. As ridiculous as it sounds, several companies have started discrediting the many years of experience that you might have painfully gained running your own business by simply stating that it does not qualify as professional experience. While the whole process of setting up a profitable business is an invaluable lesson for life, companies might be quick to discount your efforts in an attempt to curb the inevitable likelihood of the rise in fraudulent applications. Therefore, entrepreneurial experience may not serve as valid proof of experience for potential candidates and can possibly raise a few eyebrows during the hiring.

6.     The hiring manager or interviewer is not a Subject Matter Expert: Being interviewed by someone who is not an expert in the field, is rather very unfortunate especially if it is a technical interview round. If someone does not know the right questions to ask or how to gauge your answers, you will find yourself in trouble. The questions asked by the interviewer may be totally irrelevant to the profession thereby leaving you tongue-twisted for answers. Then there are other occasions when a junior professional takes the interview of a senior candidate in the absence or unavailability of a senior hiring manager. This too may not work in the favour of the interviewee.

7.     The interviewer fears that hiring you might disrupt the team dynamics: Interviewers often consider if a candidate would make a ‘good fit’ not just within the organization but also within the team. You might make a great cultural fit within the organization but you may not be the ideal candidate for the team. Different team managers might have different visions for the team. They will choose the candidates according to the culture that they wish to build within their teams. If you give off a vibe that does not resonate with that of the team, you may not get selected. Many-a-candidates get rejected because they appear to be aggressive. While aggression can be a positive trait that will enable you to grow and thrive in many work environments, it may not be the best quality for certain types of jobs and candidates who display this quality may be judged as not the ideal fits for the team. If you are an older candidate in a pool of young candidates, you might find it difficult to get hired if you have been interviewed for a position within a team consisting of employees who belong to a younger age group.

8.     Hiring has been frozen: Yes, this happens! Sometimes a requisition gets approved, job ads gets posted, candidates are shortlisted or even selected, and then the department is suddenly notified by the HR Team that all hiring is frozen owing to budget cuts or similar reasons. Then, the hiring manager has to write the difficult email informing the ‘almost selected’ candidates that they have been rejected. Because, it’s easier and safer to cite this reason than blame the company of course!

9.     There’s been an internal reference: In many companies, internal references are taken seriously and generous rewards or incentives are meted out to the employees who refer a strong candidate, who will eventually make it through the interview rounds. This works in way that is similar to college admissions. Past or current students of the institution get more importance than new applicants from other colleges, be it for admissions or for scholarships. Similarly, if there’s a strong candidate with an internal referee, her/his candidature may be given more weightage, even if you were a preferred candidate.

10.  You were ditched by your referee: Companies may ask for references from your previous direct supervisor or senior colleagues or HR Team to validate your candidature and experience. Now, if you were not in good terms with these colleagues, they may not want to provide you with a letter of reference. Some colleagues can also go to the extent of sharing some pretty mean and nasty things about you with your potential employer which may damage your credibility. While this behaviour from your referee is not professional, you can’t really do much about it.

Now that you know some of the unusual reasons why you were rejected after the job interview, you can cut yourself some slack and get back on your feet. Remember, when the time is right, the right job will find you.


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About the Author:


Anju Anna Alex, Anju Lopez

Anju Lopez FRSA has editorial experience that spans across almost a decade in the content and media industry. She is the Co-Founder of the website – The Daily Brunch(www.thedailybrunch.com) and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, UK. She has worked as the Senior Manager for Content Development at BYJU’S. She is one of India’s most recognized Editors from the Travel and Hospitality industry. Anju holds two post-graduate degrees in Media and Communication; one from The English and Foreign Languages University and another from The London School of Economics and Political Science, UK. She is a published author and has several research papers as well as non-academic publications to her credit. In 2019, she released her first book – Speak English by Malayala Manorama publications. Anju is currently settled in Germany, where she works as a Consultant, offering her expertise to several educational institutions and media houses.


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