Attentive group of employers at a job interview

The number one reason why people don’t get hired (and how to fix it)

Written by Workopolis
Posted on

Think you’re aces but still not getting the jobs you’re after? It could be that you’re just not standing out, you haven’t made your credentials relevant to the job at hand, or you don’t seem to want it badly enough. Those are the key findings from a recent survey of career consultants.

Hundreds of career advisers from across North America where surveyed on “why people are not getting the jobs they want.” They each shared the top ten reasons.

There were some distinct similarities in the participants’ responses. Here is a summary of what they had to say about why people don’t get hired.


The 10 top reasons why people are not getting the jobs they want:

    1. Not sufficiently differentiating themselves from others (selected by 67% of consultants)

    2. Failure to successfully transfer past experience to the current job opportunity (64%)

    3. Not showing enough interest and excitement (56%)

    4. Focusing too much on what they want and too little on what the interviewer is saying
    (54%)

    5. Feeling they can “wing” the interview without preparation (53%)

    6. Not being able to personally connect with the interviewer (49%)

    7. Appearing over- or under-qualified for the job (46%)

    8. Not asking enough, or the right, questions (41%)

    9. Not researching a potential employer/interviewer (39%)

    10. Lacking humor, warmth, or personality during interviewing process (33%)

We have discussed all of these at length before. A lack of preparation and research is a clear opportunity killer. If you’re not prepared and you haven’t researched the company and role, you’re simply not going to get the job. And, as we discovered in our own research, the number one reason hiring managers will choose one candidate over another is enthusiasm for the role. You must be visibly enthusiastic. You must also ask the right questions. It is, of course, important to be warm and personable, to make a connection with the interviewer, and to focus on what you can do for the employer, not what they can do for you.

You can’t do much about being underqualified, except do your best to gain skills and experience – and not apply for jobs for which you’re not qualified. It’s a waste of everyone’s time and it’s annoying. If you’re overqualified, you can probably play it down as needed – though it’s a shame to have to do that.

Looking at No. 2, we say this over and over again: you must tailor your application specifically to the job for which you’re applying. Demonstrate how your experience applies to the role. The employer isn’t going to do the math for you.

Most important, according to this list, is setting yourself apart from the other candidates. Easier said than done, right? Actually, you can do it pretty easily by taking this list straight to heart and doing exactly what it is telling you to do. To break it down to specifics, here are nine things you must to in order to stand out:

  • Be warm and personable
  • Be qualified
  • Tailor your application
  • Be prepared
  • Do your research
  • Be enthusiastic
  • Ask the right questions
  • Focus on what you can do for the organization
  • Send a post-interview Thank You note. (while not specifically mentioned by the surveyed career consultants, it’s important to send a Thank You note after an interview, and nearly half of candidates don’t do it. Think if this as another way of showing enthusiasm.)

If you do these things, you will set yourself apart from all the other candidates, because most people don’t do them.

It also helps to do something to make yourself stand out. I recently wrote an article titled Six ways to make yourself unforgettable. You can read the whole thing here. But here are five of them in the Cole’s Notes version:

    Have a distinctive look: Having a unique style will help make an indelible impression.

    Make the other person feel good about themselves: Maya Angelou famously said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

    Give something tangible to remember you by: In a job interview, bring a paper copy of your resume and, where applicable, a portfolio or samples of your work. Have business cards printed up with your name, what you do – the headline of your resume or LinkedIn summary, for example – and your contact information.

    Tell a great story: Have an anecdote ready that is short, fascinating, and colourful. In a social setting, this can be anything, in an interview setting it should be one that is related to the position you want.

    Follow up: After meeting someone socially, connect with them on social media. LinkedIn is most appropriate but I often reach out to people on Facebook as well.

But, again, if nothing else, tick off each item on the above list. Most candidates don’t even tailor their applications or do their research, so if you do all of the things we mention, you will be way ahead of the game.

Get more career and job search tips and advice, straight to your inbox.

Sign up for the newsletter!