Great Interview But No Offer: Why You Didn’t Get the Job

Five reasons that could explain why you didn't get an offer.

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Lindsay Olson
You’ve had several interviews and haven’t landed the perfect job yet. The interviews seem to go well from your perspective, but then, surprisingly, you find yourself without an offer.

Here are five reasons that might explain why you didn’t get the job:

1. You sounded desperate.

Hiring manager and recruiters can tell when someone is genuinely interested in their position or in any position. Knowing as much as you can about the opportunity and asking smart questions during the interview will show the hiring manager you’ve taken the time to evaluate the opportunity.

Companies want to hire people who are passionate about what they do and who want to work with them. You need to be able to articulate what it is about this opportunity and this company that interests you. If you don't, you might seem willing to take anything you are offered—and that’s a big turnoff!

[See 21 Secrets to Getting the Job.]

2. You didn’t sell yourself.

Part of your responsibility in the interview is to tell your story. The stories you share will depend on the types of questions you’re asked, but it doesn’t hurt to anticipate some of those questions and prepare a few stories beforehand. Be specific and detailed in your answers and back up your experience with anecdotes that illustrates how you qualify for the job.

Consider using the STAR model: talk about situation, task, action, and results. Even if you don't have a chance to tell these specific stories, the exercise of preparing to tell them, of thinking them through, will make you a more prepared candidate.

[See Why You Didn't Get Hired.]

3. You oversold yourself.

There’s a fine line between confidence and arrogance—and crossing it is a deal breaker. Stay away from “what’s in it for me?” types of questions. Know what you don’t know and readily admit your mistakes if asked about them. Flexibility, adaptability, and willingness to learn are all qualities you want to exude as a confident job seeker.

4. An employee referral or internal candidate popped up.

If two candidates have a similar background and one comes with an internal referral, the company is more likely to take the safer path. The employer already has an idea of how an internal candidate will perform in a role based on their experience working together. A referred candidate, too, typically has a working relationship with someone in the company who can attest to his or her work ethic. Companies trust these referrals because they expect their employees to refer only candidates who would reflect well on them.

[For more career advice, visit U.S. News Careers.]

5. The job specifications changed.

This is a common occurrence, especially with newly created positions. As hiring authorities meet potential candidates and hear about their experiences, they sometimes recognize new priorities or goals that relate to the position, which may cause them to shift their hiring focus.

Lindsay Olson is a founding partner and recruiter with Paradigm Staffing, a national search firm that specializes in placing public relations and communications professionals. She blogs at LindsayOlson.com, where she discusses recruiting and job search issues.