25 Reasons Why You Didn't Get Picked for an Interview

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Are you wondering why you haven’t been contacted for a job interview? Waiting for an email or a call from an employer to schedule an interview and wondering why you haven't been selected can be the most vexing part of the job search process.

It’s especially tough when you have applied for a job where it appears that you’re a perfect match for the position. Why weren't you picked? And why haven’t you heard from the employer after you spent so much time and effort writing a perfect cover letter to send with your well-written resume?

When Your Qualifications Don’t Measure Up

There can be a myriad of reasons why you haven't been contacted. Sometimes, there are limitations to your qualifications or flaws in how you have presented your candidacy. In other cases, you might be up against strong competition or an internal candidate.

When Your Qualifications Have Nothing to Do With It

On the other hand, it might have nothing to do with you or the other applicants. An unforeseen change in circumstances impacting the readiness for an employer to hire could be the reason that no candidates are being called in for an interview.

It is hard to know the precise reasons why you aren't getting called in for a particular interview. However, it can be helpful to reflect on some of the most common reasons why candidates aren't selected as you hone your job search skills.

25 Reasons Why You Didn't Get Picked for an Interview

Review the top 25 reasons why you may not have been contacted for an interview, plus tips for how to address issues that may have knocked you out of consideration. If it seems like any of these apply to your situation, be sure to tweak your application materials the next time around.

1. Not a match for the job. You were screened out by an automated system or a hiring manager because the language in your resume didn't match the requirements listed in the job posting. It’s important to take the time to highlight the skills that qualify you for the position on your resume. Companies are too busy to take the time to figure out whether someone is a strong applicant. They are looking for you to show them why you’re qualified.

2. Lack job qualifications. Your knowledge and skills don't match the capabilities required to excel in the job, or you have not clearly indicated how you have applied the desired skills. Take the time to match up the job requirements with your qualifications. You will show the hiring manager, at a glance, why you’re a good fit.

3. Overqualified. There is a perception by the employer that you are overqualified. Being overqualified can hurt your candidacy as much as being underqualified for a position. Use your cover letter to explain why you’re applying, your enthusiasm for the role, and what you can offer the organization.

4. Didn’t follow directions. You didn't supply all the information requested or follow the directions for the application. An easy way for employers to narrow the applicant pool is to eliminate the candidates who didn’t provide the requested information. If you couldn’t follow instructions when you applied, the employer may doubt that you would be able to do so if you were hired. Make sure you’ve covered all the bases, especially when you apply online for a job.

5. Accomplishments aren’t showcased. Your resume and cover letter don't reveal your accomplishments and don’t show how you have impacted the bottom line with prior employers. Using numbers to quantify your achievements is an excellent way to impress an employer.

6. Mistakes. There were grammatical and/or spelling errors in your documents. It’s not always easy to catch your own mistakes. Carefully proofread all your job application documents, and, if you can, have someone else look them over for you.

7. Generic cover letter. Your cover letter was generic and not tailored to the job. The goal of a cover letter is to sell your accomplishments. You should write about what you can offer the company, not what you want in a job. Be specific, and customize your cover letters so they highlight your best attributes.

8. Cover letter too short. Your cover letter was too brief, and the hiring manager assumed that you weren't highly motivated to pursue the position. Be sure that your letter includes all the components of a successful cover letter, and is full of details about what you can offer the employer.

9. Job hopping. The hiring manager may have concerns about a pattern of job hopping in your background. If you’re worried about being considered a job hopper, you can tweak your resume to deemphasize the number of times you’ve changed jobs.

10. Lack credentials. You don't possess a required educational credential. Many jobs have a required level of education or equivalent experience. If you don’t meet those requirements, you may not be considered for the position.

11. Too expensive. Your salary expectations or perceived salary requirements exceed the available resources. If the company thinks you’ll be too expensive to hire, they may opt not to interview you. Take the time to evaluate what you’re worth and whether the job is a financial fit.

12. Short on experience. You lack relevant work experience within that role and/or industry. If you don’t have the right experience, you probably won’t get an interview. You could have applied for a job a step or two further up the career ladder than is optimal for getting selected.

13. Didn’t sell your credentials. Perhaps you haven't made a strong enough case for your interest in the job. Have you sold the hiring manager on why he or she should interview you? One way to make a compelling case, is to show a bit of personality in your cover letter. It will help you stand out from the crowd.

14. The job doesn’t seem like a fit.  You haven't made it clear how the job fits into your career plan. Is the experience you have on your resume related to the position for which you’re applying? Have you shown the employer why this job would be a good fit for both you and the organization? If it wasn’t clear, spend some extra time customizing your resume next time.


15. No referral. You were unable to enlist the assistance of any contacts at the employer to advocate your candidacy. Another candidate may have had a referral from someone who worked at the company. That’s a good way to help ensure your application materials get a close look.

16. Employment gaps. There are unexplained gaps in your employment. Glaring gaps on your resume could be a red flag for a prospective employer. At the least, they will wonder what you were doing during the time you weren’t gainfully employed. There are ways you can make employment gaps less obvious on your resume so you have a better shot at getting an interview.

17. Unprofessional social media presence. Your online image may have damaged your candidacy. Before you apply for another job, take a look at your social media pages from an employer’s perspective. Have you carefully adjusted your privacy settings? Is everything that’s available to the public appropriate? Have you updated your LinkedIn profile so it’s comprehensive and showcases your skills?

18. Out-of-town candidate. You live outside of the area, and the employer prefers local candidates. If you’re job searching long-distance, there are things you can do to up your chances for getting an interview. These tips will help you find a job in a new city, regardless of where you are currently located.

19. Other applicants are better qualified. Your credentials are a good match, but there are stronger candidates. In this case, there could have been many well-qualified candidates. You, unfortunately, didn’t make the cut. Take a look at the skills the employer was seeking, and consider if you need to upgrade yours to become a more competitive candidate.

20. There was already a strong applicant pool. You applied for the job later than other well-qualified candidates. Sometimes, employers need to hire quickly. They might start the interview process as soon as they start receiving applications, and they could have hired someone already. One way to get ahead of the crowd is to set up job agents so you are notified about new opportunities as soon as they are listed.

21. Hired an internal candidate. The employer has a preferred internal candidate with a proven track record at that organization. This isn’t a reflection on your qualifications. Rather, the company decided to promote an employee instead of hiring an outside applicant.

22. Another applicant had strong recommendations. Other external candidates have been endorsed by individuals trusted by the decision makers. The organization may have had recommendations on who to consider for the job.

23. The job may have been put on hold.  Uncertainty about funding may have delayed the hiring process. There could be budget or funding issues, and the process could be held up while finances are figured out.

24. Too much other stuff going on. Hiring staff are preoccupied with other immediate concerns and not focused on the search yet. Even though employers have good intentions, other factors may have required a shift in resources, and the firm may simply be too busy to add staff right away.

25. Company is rethinking the need to add an employee. Business has slowed, and the employer is no longer committed to hiring for that position. Adding a new employee is costly, and if there’s a business slowdown the organization may be rethinking the decision to expand the workforce.

You May Still Have a Chance

Many employers don't take the time to notify applicants that they were rejected. If you haven't heard back, you might still have a shot at securing an interview. It's worth a try if this is a job you really want. Even if it's a long shot, if you can get your application noticed you may be able to get an interview.

If you can find a contact person, you'll be able to call or email to make a case for getting a chance to be considered. Here are tips for following up after submitting a resume, and here's how to reapply for a job after you have been rejected.