12 Ways to Tell You're Not Going to Get a Job Offer

waiting for an answer after an interview

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One of the worst parts of job searching is not hearing back from employers, even after an interview. Unfortunately, that seems to be the norm these days rather than the exception. So you might consider yourself lucky if you hear any feedback at all during the interview process.

But even when a hiring manager does provide feedback—often in response to your inquiry about where you stand—you may not get a straight answer.

Why You Might Not Get a Straight Answer

It's worth asking: Why aren't hiring managers direct about letting you know that the company does not intend to make an offer? One reason is that it can be uncomfortable to share bad news.

This can lead hiring managers to avoid giving feedback entirely, or use cliched phrases that serve as a non-direct way of telling candidates that their chances do not look good.

Another reason is that they don't want to say anything that could lead to a discrimination complaint. Or, the company could simply be too busy to take the time to notify candidates.

How to Know You're Not Going to Get a Job Offer

If you’re lucky enough to get feedback, here are some of the things that you might hear from a hiring manager when they don’t want to hire you but don’t want to come right out and say it.

Be aware that in some cases, these sentiments from hiring managers may be genuine — not just a polite brush-off. It is possible, for instance, that hiring managers are waiting on feedback from key stakeholders, or negotiating departmental funding. That is, there is a possibility that you will get a job offer even after getting one of these responses.

The 12 Signs You Will Not Get the Job

In general, getting an email, phone call, or voicemail with one these statements is a sign that you will not be getting a job offer.

  • We need to consider a few other candidates before making a decision. You are probably out of contention for the job. Telling you that the company is going to interview other applicants means you’re not a top candidate. 
  • I’ll keep your resume on file. There are few things that get filed these days and your resume probably isn’t going to be one of them. This is a way for hiring managers to avoid saying directly that you will not be getting a job offer. 
  • The position has been put on hold. Funding for the position has been put on hold. It's absolutely possible that these statements are accurate and the employer is holding off on filling the position. The bottom line for you, though, it that they will likely re-start the hiring process from scratch when the hold is over. 
  • We're going to move forward with other candidates whose qualifications are an even stronger match. Although you are qualified for the position, we've decided to select another candidate. This is a nice way of telling you that you’re not the right person for the job.
  • We have decided to move in another direction. Another nice way of saying that you don’t have the qualifications the hiring manager is seeking.
  • We've decided to keep the position open, but we are not moving forward at this point. It's not an outright no, but it's doubtful you will hear anything more from the employer.
  • We aren’t going to be filling the position right now. There’s a chance this is legitimate, and you might still have a chance at the job, but I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting. In many cases, you’ll see the job advertised again.
  • This job doesn’t seem like the best fit for you. You may be able to salvage the opportunity if you can convince the employer you are a good fit for the job, but it’s a long shot. 
  • The job seems to be too junior for you. This job isn't big enough for you. When you’re told that the job isn’t the right level, the hiring manager thinks you’re overqualified and won’t stick around if you’re hired.
  • We have filled the position with an internal candidate. We have promoted someone from within. Maybe they have, and maybe they haven’t, but in either case, they aren’t hiring you.
  • We feel like you wouldn't be stimulated enough here, and I would hate for you to be bored. Even if you didn’t think the job would be boring, you’re not going to have a chance to find out.
  • It came down to two candidates, and her skills were slightly more in line with what we're looking for. You didn’t get the job, but at least you were close.