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Unfortunately, rejection is part and parcel of the recruitment process. Dozens of applicants get rejected before shortlisting so getting your CV read by a hiring manager and then being invited to interview is already beating the odds. It’s a brilliant start but sometimes, interviews go wrong. You could make an interview mistake that could cost you a second interview or a job offer. Even when you've interviewed well there could be other candidates who did a better job or were more qualified.

Rejection is an inevitable part of finding a job. Here are some potential reasons that your interview didn't result in a job offer:


This is the most disgusting rejection reason. It's a reason that shouldn't exist and is illegal, but it undeniably still happens. Systemic racism and gender bias mean BAME workers and women find it harder to gain employment. The law states you can't be treated unfairly or differently if it's connected to who you are, like being a woman or being disabled. These are 'protected characteristics' as defined in the Equality Act 2010.

If you’ve been discriminated against then contact Citizen’s Advice for information on your rights and available options.

You're not qualified

You were selected for interview based on your CV. Assuming that you have not lied or exaggerated on your CV then this is an error on behalf of the hiring organisation and their ability to read CVs or properly shortlist. If your CV isn’t an honest reflection of your career history and skill set, then the fault is wholly yours.

Check that your CV is a true representation of your abilities and experience and if it is then count yourself lucky that you escaped working for such a disorganised manager or company.

You're over-qualified

This reason can be frustrating as it seems obvious that you must be interested, or you wouldn't have applied in the first place. In a challenging job market or within niche sectors, there may be candidates with lots of experience who are applying for what seems to be a more junior role. Potential employers may have issues with this for several reasons. Primarily, they may worry about job longevity and think you will soon move on to something better. They may be threatened or concerned about disruption if you are better qualified than the current manager. Alternatively, they may think someone with fewer qualifications will do the role just as well for less money.

Think of the above objections upfront and address them head-on. At the stage of the interview where you have an opportunity to ask questions, you can ask if they have any reservations about your skill level. Take this opportunity to make clear your motives for applying, and reassure that, for example, you won't leave the role for something else soon but are applying for specific reasons.

You interview badly

Occasionally people get anxious at interviews and their nerves get the better of them. Sometimes candidates who are extremely competent in a work scenario can’t cope at interviews and have memory blocks or just ramble on and on.

Always prepare thoroughly for an interview. Being ready for almost anything that’s thrown at you in an interview gives you confidence and this shines through on the day. You could also try a practice interview before hand with a friend or by videoing yourself to check your mannerisms. Another useful tip is to always take a bottle of water, or accept a glass if offered, so you can take a sip when flustered or need time to think of the best answer.

We hired internally

This makes you feel like you’ve been used because if they had someone in mind why bother interviewing externally. Sometimes companies like to play it safe and ignore candidates with more relevant experience because the internal candidate is a known quantity and they already know is a cultural fit and will work well within the team. Also, if they are an ex-colleague whose work is proven, it eliminates some of the risks from the hire. If a candidate has been recommended by an existing member of staff, that also removes some risk. It's an excellent character reference.

There is not really anything you can do to mitigate this situation. It’s best to just move on.

We found someone cheaper

Some hiring managers only think about budgets rather than value adding. Maybe you could do a terrific job, but they've found somebody who can do an acceptable job much for less pay.

This is just business so consider it a lucky escape. Never be tempted to sell yourself short and know your own worth. Double check that you are looking for a fair salary in relation to the current market and only adjust your expectations if you find you’re on the high side.

You were second choice

The role could’ve been made for you. You had every one of the essential skills as well as all the desirable ones. You might have ticked every box, done everything perfectly, rocked the interview and be able to do an amazing job but there might have been one other candidate that, for one reason or another, was marginally better.

Just take this as confirmation that you have a good skill set and are going to get a new role soon.

Most people face rejection at some point in their career. Some things are out of your control so don’t take it personally and concentrate on future successes.

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