The 3 Honest Reasons You Didn’t Get The Job

Patricia Powell-Hughes, managing director and founder of EP Australia.

I can put just about every reason a candidate didn’t get the job into three simple categories.

1. Community
2. Capacity
3. Communication

Let’s imagine your resume is good enough to get you an interview. At this point, there are things that are in your control and those that aren’t.

It’s out of your hands when a job is withdrawn or offered to an internal candidate. Or sometimes you just don’t click at the interview.

But you’re in control for the rest.

About 90% of communication is non-verbal, so remember this saying: “You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression”.

The split second you walk through a door to an interview, someone is making a judgment call on you.

You’ll be judged on your physical appearance. Are you inappropriately dressed – too revealing, too tight, outdated or untidy – or are you reeking of perfume or cologne?

If you are, then you’ve got to do a lot of work to turn that around. This is no time for the limp, clammy handshake – or the knuckle-cracker.

You need good eye contact and an open, friendly smile. Because you can lose a job before the interview has even started.

And unfortunately, not every hiring manager can run an interview well. They can be nervous or not know how to interview. Sometimes they don’t know what they’re looking for. And all that comes into play before you even sit down and start talking.

Below you will find the honest reasons you didn’t get the job. People don’t often hear them because employers often can’t give this kind of feedback.

In fact, a lot of candidates never hear back from an employer, even after they’ve interviewed. I think that’s because they don’t know how to say these things.

Review this list, be realistic and consider how you come across. Don’t do it to run yourself down, but do it to learn about how you could present better next time.

If an employer did tell you why you didn’t get the job, they might make some of these points:


• You are not a good cultural fit with the existing team
• You are not a good fit culturally for the clients or stakeholders
• Your goals don’t align with the business goals
• Once we met you we realised we could promote someone internally, thanks


• You overstated your experience in your resume and are not where you think you are
• You have too much experience for the role and as a business we don’t want that
• You don’t bring in new skills to the business you are too alike to what we already have in our team


• You didn’t research the role, the business, the team, you were not prepared
• You didn’t answer the questions properly or at all
• You talked too much
• You didn’t listen
• You big noted
• You didn’t engage with the interviewer
• You are interested in the role for the wrong reason/s
• The hiring manager is not a good interviewer
• The hiring manager has no real idea what the job is really about

If you go for one job interview and don’t get the job, there’s a myriad of reasons you didn’t get it. But if you’re job-hunting and you’ve been to half a dozen, it’s you. You’re doing something people don’t like.

Look at what you can physically take control of. You can control your handshake, your physical appearance, the way you speak and the way you listen. If you do your best and you’re presenting well and don’t get the job, it’s just that someone else clicked better.

As an interviewer, you can tell if someone’s burnt out, distracted, angry, scared, fearful, confused, or – if they’ve been job-hunting for a while – that they’re a bit self-defeated right from the start. You can tell all of that in the first couple of minutes from talking to someone. Don’t sit down in the interview and give a big sigh. You somehow have to try and leave your problems behind.

If you’re the right person for the job, there’s nothing you can be asked in an interview that you can’t answer. The questions will only be about you or the work that you’ve done. People get themselves wound in a coil about “what kind of questions are they going to ask me?”. But it’s only about you.

When you go into an interview, start the conversation. This is not an interrogation: it’s a rapport-building session. Be yourself and if you’re the one chosen, it will be the right company for you. If you pretend to be someone you’re not in an interview and then get the job, you’re going to get in there and probably not like it.

Patricia Powell-Hughes is the managing director and founder of EP Australia. 15 years ago Powell-Hughes started the business as a recruitment agency, but now also runs executive and HR consulting services. Unique for her insider knowledge of the television, media and entertainment industries, Patricia Powell-Hughes has undertaken leadership study with the Melbourne Business School, written online columns about the workplace and is building a profile in public speaking.

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