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5 Surprising Reasons You’re Not Getting Hired, and What to Do About It

Topics: Career Advice
not getting hired
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Landing a good job isn’t easy. The hiring process can be daunting, even if you have a wealth of training and experience.

No matter what you’re bringing to the table, you also still have to submit a great application package and ace the interview. These things are often easier said than done.

If you’ve checked all the boxes, and you still find you’re not landing the gig, there may be other factors you’re missing. Here are a few surprising, yet also fairly common, reasons for not getting hired and some tips for turning things around.

1. Your references don’t cut it.

Make sure that the references you submit are positive. They should also be moderately current. (If all of your recommendations are from over a decade ago, they could do more harm than good.)

And, be sure you have references from a variety of sources. You should have at least one from senior leadership. Even better, submit one reference written by a supervisor and another from someone even further up the chain. That will help you paint a more complete picture of yourself as an employee.

2. You’re underdressed.

While it is true that workplace duds have gotten more casual over the course of the last few decades, especially in some industries, you still need to dress professionally. This is especially true during the interview process.

Even if you wouldn’t need to dress formally for the job on a day-to-day basis, it doesn’t hurt to dress up for interviews. It shows that you’re interested and that you’re taking the process seriously.

“I wore a pair of dress jeans to the interview,” writes Ladders reader Nick Mavrogenes. “It was for a company in [San Francisco] that made jeans. They told my recruiter that I wasn’t properly dressed.”

3. You didn’t listen.

Too often, qualified candidates are cut during the interview process because of a mistake they made related to nerves. You may be so busy thinking about what you’re going to say next that you’re not really listening to the folks asking you the questions. This could very easily leave a negative impression.

Remind yourself before heading into an interview to really listen. Prioritize staying calm and focused. Also, don’t hesitate to ask to hear a question again. It’s perfectly all right to say that you’re a little nervous, too. You don’t have to be perfect. It’s more important that you demonstrate that you are a good listener. 

4. You seem desperate.

No matter how qualified you are, you might not get hired if you come off as desperate to work there. This is partly because it’s human nature to be suspicious of people who seem too eager, and partly because your desires are kind of beside the point. Focus on demonstrating that hiring you would benefit the company. It’s good to show enthusiasm, but don’t overdo it.

5. You’re not a good personality fit.

Organizations have unique cultures. Some kinds of personalities work better with some companies than others.

Sometimes, you might not get hired for a job simply because it’s not a good fit personality-wise. The chemistry could be off. Perhaps you didn’t hit it off with the person, or people, who interviewed you. It might not be that they didn’t like you overall. More likely, they simply determined you weren’t the best fit for their organization.

Don’t worry too much if this kind of thing happens a time or two. That’s perfectly normal and you’re better off waiting to be hired by a company that will be a better fit. However, if this problem persists, you might want to think about bringing more of your unique personality to your interviews. People want to work with someone who is joyful and fun to be around, as well as qualified.

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