Reasons you didn’t get the job after an interview

October 15, 2021

It is never a good feeling when you invested your time and energy in to researching and applying for positions to land an interview and receive a rejection. It’s even tougher if you did not receive any feedback on your application. Here are a few reasons why you may not have been successful and some advice on how to avoid some of these scenario’s:

The most obvious: you lack the specific experience the company is looking for.

It’s a hard pill to swallow but the reality is you won’t always be the most qualified candidate for the job, irrespective of how well-prepared you are for the interview or how proud you are of your experience and qualifications. In Cayman in particular, there are some industries that are extremely competitive and talent-rich like administration, bookkeeping and compliance and some that are niche and talent-short such as insolvency & restructuring, temp accountants and immediately-available, qualified corporate administrators. Through no fault of your own, you may just face some tough competition, which can sometimes come down to timing. From the employer’s perspective, they are searching for the best available talent who’s skills most closely match their requirements.  

You asked too many questions.

It’s great to go to an interview demonstrating that you are enthusiastic about the opportunity and are eager to learn as much as you can about the role and the company, however avoid converting from interview to interviewer. Remember the interview is supposed to be a two way conversation (or more if there are other interviewer’s) and it is important to let the employer lead. Time may be limited for the interview and the key is to keep your questions concise but considered. Anything you did not get to learn from the first round, can be asked of the recruiter, researched later or asked at another stage so pick two or three of your top questions to ask.

The questions you asked focused more on what the company can offer you than what you have to offer the company.

Interview basics 101 – do not ask anything at interview that you could have found out from the company website. This will make you look unprepared and lazy. Avoid jumping straight in asking about the compensation. Ideally you should have reviewed the salary band beforehand either on the advert, description or via your recruiter. Although it is important to know what benefits are on offer related to the compensation do not go there on the first interview. For example NEVER ask how many sick days you are entitled to. Genuine concerns around benefits can be discussed early on but the first interview is not the time. Try to think of more interesting questions even if you are trying to learn the basics. Instead of “what’s the company culture like?” Try “I did my research and saw that many of the team have been with the company for over 10 years, what is it about the culture of the organization that attracts and keeps people?”

Your salary expectations were too high.

Although not all companies advertise the salary on offer on adverts (although they should), it is important to try and gain this information before attending an interview unless you your resume has been presented by a recruiter providing your specific salary expectations upfront. Nobody should be shooting completely in the dark here. Money has been and is still an awkward conversation for many people to have, but it is an important one. You fear that if you say too low you will receive a low-ball offer but come in too high and you will be ruled out, which does often happen. The best way to approach it is this – review the salary banding upfront or if one is not available, ensure that you have some idea on what the employer is likely to pay based on the information you have been provided. When working with a recruiter if you have advised them of your salary expectations it is essential that you do not go into an interview and provide the interviewer with completely different figures. You must be consistent, otherwise you risk wasting their/your time. It’s OK to re-evaluate down the line after gaging more information but be clear on your justifications.

Your reasons for leaving your previous jobs or current job raised red flags.

A common interview question: “why are you looking to leave your job or why did you leave your previous jobs”. Honesty is always the best policy but be careful with how you explain those reasons especially if you were terminated, you resigned without having another job lined up, you had problems with a manager, conflicts with other team members. People leave jobs for all kinds of positions and even if you think that admitting you walked off a job will mean you will be judged negatively, it isn’t always the case. Perhaps you had a very good reason for doing so. If you were terminated, be clear on the reason for the termination and give your point of view. Can you still provide a positive reference? Is there anybody else within the organization who can attest to your experience or from previous companies. Obviously if you have quit every job you have had in a short period of time, this will raise red flags so you must be very clear on your justifications.

You were unprepared.

Fail to prepare, prepare to fail. It’s the truth. No matter how experienced you are for the role and/or with interviews you owe it to yourself to do some interview preparation beforehand. Employers can tell very easily if you have prepared for the interview or if you are winging it. Do you know the basics about the company? Have you read the job description? Did you ask for the correct person upon arrival? Did you arrive on time at the right location? Did you test your laptop before you started having technical difficulties on the day? Can you answer the basic questions? Can you provide specific examples to the questions that you are being asked?

You came across as desperate for any job.

Even if you are desperate, it is important not to show it during an interview. If the employer gets the impression that you would be willing to take any job, with any company then they will determine that you are not fully invested in the opportunity with them. It is a difficult one, when you have been job searching and interviewing to no avail for extending periods of time but you have to attack every new interview with a fresh attitude, it really shows.

They perceived you as overconfident, arrogant or even rude.

It is important to combat those interview nerves and aim to appear cool, calm and collected but it will be detrimental to appear overconfident, arrogant or rude. Time and time again we hear employers wanting to set up in-person interviews to assess if you are the right “fit”. Although the term is a vague one, on a basic level though they typically mean that they want to meet with you, ask questions to bring your resume to life and assess your personality style to see if it matches with their own/other team members/the company. Most employer’s don’t want to hire someone who they think is going to come in and “ruffle feathers” unnecessarily (although some of the best actually do prefer this type of candidate as opposed to “yes men”), we often see them seeking a “good team player” so be sure to be modest in your answers, allow the interviewer time to speak and be open and honest about any of your areas needing improvement.  

You didn’t gel well with the interviewer/s.

It’s natural to try and build rapport with any new people that we meet, particularly in an interview situation. Most recruiter blogs will tell you to! However it doesn’t always work out and this won’t necessarily be a fault of your own. It does increase your odds of securing a role if the interviewer feels like they got on well with you, the conversation ran smoothly and your vision aligned well with theirs but this will not always be the case. On an island as small as Cayman, more often than not you may know one of the interviewer’s personally or from a previous company, you may recall that their management style was not one that suited your working style, perhaps there a personal conflicts or simply perhaps the conversation does not flow easily, you do not feel at ease around the people present or your personalities are distinctively different. Typically people hire people they like which is why advice like “build rapport” and “mirror match their body language” isn’t incorrect, it is just unfortunate that this principle can often lead to companies only hiring people like them, instead of people that are more qualified or able to think differently. If you don’t feel comfortable with the people you meet in an interview (and it isn’t just interview nerves) then it is OK to accept that this isn’t the right place for you.

Your longer term goals didn’t align with the company’s.

Be sure to do your research beforehand on this. If your longer term goal is to progress through the ranks of a large company, advancing in title and hiring a team under you then a small, boutique company with no growth plans wouldn’t be the right fit for you. If a company’s main strategy is solely on increasing revenue annually but you are seeking a company with a committed CSR programme in more of a grassroots environment then again, the fit might not be there. If the role is a temporary one to cover a maternity leave but you are determined to find a permanent role then your long term goals will not align.

Unfavourable references.

It is advisable to request references from previous employers as early on as possible, ideally around the time that you leave and the more descriptive the better. Some companies might only provide the standard verification but that is still better than no reference. One of the most important reasons for leaving on good terms with any company is so that it does not hinder your future opportunities, think long term.

For more advice on how to set yourself up for success at interviews or to apply for a position with us, you can email or apply here.