12 Reasons Why Interviewers and Job Applicants Reject Each Other

No one likes rejection. This is especially true when it comes to the job application process. The feelings of hurt and disappointment are almost as bad as the pain experienced during a messy breakup. The worst part of job rejection is not knowing why you were kicked to the curb. Job applicants are often left in the dark about why an offer wasn’t extended.

Employers might not feel the same level of disappointment, but they can sometimes experience confusion when a top candidate turns down a seemingly good job offer. Candidates don’t always offer an explanation, or they might not tell the whole truth.

If you’ve ever been blindsided by a job rejection — whether you’re a candidate or a hiring manager — there are plenty of possible reasons for the refusal. Let’s take a closer look at 12 reasons interviewers and job applicants reject each other.

1. You’re a cookie-cutter job candidate

Warm, golden brown, chocolate chip cookie

Similarity is boring when it comes to job interview candidates. | iStock.com/Songbird839

What differentiates you from the sea of candidates applying for the same job? If you don’t stand out from the pack, your chances of snagging the job are pretty low. It’s important to show the interviewer what makes you the best choice. Roughly 67% of career advisers in a Workopolis survey said this is one of the top reasons a candidate might not get a job offer. So if you want to get the job, make sure to highlight any special skills or significant projects you worked on.

2. The starting salary was too low

a broke man pulls out his pockets after a job rejection

A low salary is a deal breaker. | iStock.com/jinga80

Working for a company you love is likely one of your top objectives. However, money is also important. It’s not enough to work for a great company when the struggles of daily life are staring you in the face. It’s hard to live comfortably and pay all your bills on time when you’re not earning enough. You’ll eventually become resentful about working for your employer, and your productivity will start to slip. Approximately 28% of respondents in a survey conducted by SmartRecruiters said they turned down a job offer because of a low starting salary.

3. You were too aggressive with follow-up

Dwight from The Office

Put the phone down. | NBC

It’s OK (and recommended) to follow up with your interviewer, but just don’t be annoying about it. You should limit your frequency to about once a week unless the interviewer gave you a different timeline. The hiring manger and recruitment team already have a boss. They don’t need you adding to the number of requests they get in any given day. A survey conducted by Bullhorn, an online recruitment software company, revealed 11% of recruiters and hiring managers were annoyed by overzealous job candidates.

4. The company culture wasn’t a good fit

Businessman portrait and gossip girls out of focus

A toxic company culture is a reason why some candidates decline job offers. | iStock.com/dusanpetkovic

Even if the company is awesome and the starting salary is just right, that’s still not enough for some candidates. Approximately 9% of respondents in the SmartRecruiters survey said company culture was also a factor that mattered to them. Those who felt a company’s culture would not be a good fit considered it a deal breaker. These respondents were more likely to turn down an offer form a company with a poor culture fit.

5. You didn’t show enough interest

man slumped over his desk at work

Get excited about your job search. | iStock.com

On the other hand, it’s just as bad not to show enough interest in the job. If you don’t seem excited about the position why would a hiring manager want you to work for his or her organization? And if you want the job, look engaged and interested. If you’re not interested in the job, don’t apply. Approximately 56% of career advisers in the Workopolis survey said disinterest would affect a candidate’s chance of receiving an offer.

6. The job was different than described

Shocked and surprised boy on the internet with laptop computer

Surprise! You’ve been baited. | iStock.com/BrianAJackson

Some employers are so desperate to get candidates that they’ll tell a small lie or two in a job description. Once interested candidates answer the ad and show up for the interview, the bait-and-switch routine becomes apparent. This is one of the top reasons some job candidates choose to turn down an offer. Roughly 8% of respondents in the SmartRecruiters survey said this would be enough for them to reject an employer.

7. You applied for a job you were clearly unqualified for

woman working on computer

If you’re not qualified, don’t apply. | iStock.com/AntonioGuillem

One pet peeve expressed by many hiring managers is when a candidate sends in a resume that’s an obviously poor fit for the advertised job. Pulling a move like this could get you blocked from applying to future jobs with the company, so don’t send your resume when you know you’re a poor fit.

The Bullhorn survey found 30% of recruiters and hiring managers found irrelevant applications irritating. Among the respondents, 43% said they would blacklist those candidates from any other jobs at the company by preventing those candidates’ names from coming up in future resume searches.

8. You focused too much on what you wanted

woman in a red dress

Everything isn’t about you. | iStock.com/elvira_gumirova

Just in case you didn’t know, the entire interview is not about you. When you meet with a hiring manager, most of your focus should be on what you can do to help move the company forward. What you want matters, but your wants shouldn’t dominate the conversation. Employers will conclude from this behavior that you wouldn’t work well with a team. Approximately 54% of respondents in the Workopolis survey said this is why some candidates were denied a job offer. Listen to what the interviewer is saying, so you can answer questions thoroughly and avoid being perceived as demanding — and annoying.

9. You exaggerated your qualifications

businessperson holding fingers crossed behind his back

Stop lying about your qualifications. | iStock.com/stevanovicigor

It’s not good to apply for a job you’re completely unqualified for, but it’s just as bad to overstate the qualifications you do have. Lying about your level of qualification could cost you the job. Don’t waste your time applying for a position if you have to stretch the truth. You have to be able to back up the information in your resume. About 21% of hiring managers surveyed by Bullhorn said if they found out a candidate overstated qualifications, this would negatively impact their hiring decision.

10. You weren’t prepared

nervous stressed young woman

It doesn’t take much effort to research the company.| iStock.com/SIphotography

No matter how talented you are it isn’t a good idea to try to wing the interview. Take the time to prepare. You can accomplish this by doing a quick search on the internet. Start by visiting the company’s website and reading its “about us” page. Also, try to learn as much as you can through articles that appear in popular industry publications. Technology has made this step really simple for you, so there’s no excuse for not doing proper research. Roughly 53% of hiring managers agree that a lack of preparation is enough of a reason to reject a job candidate.

11. A better job offer came through

happy woman

Some candidates will wait for a better offer. | iStock.com/monkeybusinessimages

A Recruiter Sentiment survey found 47% of declined job offers were because the candidate accepted another job. If you’re fortunate enough to be in a position where you’re juggling multiple job offers, this is a great place to be. However, employers said this is their biggest concern when it comes to decision time. They never know whether their top pick is going to be stolen by a competitor who happened to be quicker with an offer.

12. The connection just wasn’t there

candidate in a job interview

A good connection with your interview is important.| iStock.com

Just like a connection is important on a first date, it’s also important when you first meet a hiring manager. If the two of you are just not getting along, you can pretty much kiss that job offer goodbye. Approximately 49% of career advisers in the Workopolis survey said poor connection was enough reason to dismiss a job candidate. So work on your social skills if you want the job. You can start by improving your body language and clothing choice.

Follow Sheiresa on Twitter @SheiresaNgo.

More from Money & Career Cheat Sheet: