You thought you aced the interview and were certain that the offer call was going to come any day. Then you waited, and waited, and waaaaaaaaited.
What the heck happened?

Don’t take it too hard. Maybe the reason you didn’t hear back after the interview actually has nothing to do with your skills or qualifications. Maybe it’s even a really dumb reason.

Here are five possible explanations for why you didn’t get the job that are totally not your fault and that are kind of or totally unfair.

The position no longer exists. Sometimes companies post positions then decide not to fill them after all. They run out of money in the budget and/or realize they don’t actually need to hire someone. Or things get restructured and the project gets shelved. Whatever the case, it has nothing to do with you. This one isn’t that unfair. Stuff happens.

The hiring manager already had someone in mind. Sometimes you weren’t going to get the job from the get go. Sometimes the whole thing is a sham. Like, say, the hiring manager already has someone in mind for the role but is required to consider – or at least pretend to consider – a certain number of other candidates before they can hire that person. They have to go through the motions. Unfortunately, it’s a complete waste of your time, but that isn’t necessarily going to stop them. Sorry.

You live too far away. It’s a well-known reality that employers often don’t like to hire people who will have long commutes, as these are a common cause of attrition and absence and it’s not worth it to the employer to take the risk. So, there’s a valid reason here. But for driven individuals who deserve these jobs, it can be maddening. If you really want the job but you live more than an hour away, don’t put your address anywhere in your application materials. Just don’t pull some bait and switch and ask for three work from home days after you get an offer. That would make you the jerk.

You’ve been out of work too long. There’s an old saying: “If you love something set if free. If it comes back to you, set it free again. It means nobody else wanted it, so you must have made the right decision the first time.” OK, that’s not an old saying. But the reality is that people don’t want something no one else wants and being out of work raises questions about why – did nobody want to hire you? Why not? Research suggests that about half of employers prefer to hire someone who is already employed. Where possible, don’t quit one job without another lined up. And if you have been out of work, find a way to show how you filled that gap productively (traveled the world, studied, etc.).

You don’t watch the Fresh Prince of Bel Air. I was at an HR conference recently and the chief something something officer of a company gave a talk on hiring for culture, saying that he might ask the candidate to perform the theme song from the Fresh Prince of Bel Air, and that if they could do this, it would be a good indicator that they would fit with the company culture. I’m not at all a fan of hiring for cultural fit. I think that if you do that you wind up with an office full of people who all like the same things and think similarly and that this is not a good formula for growth. Rejecting a candidate because they’re not a “fit” is dumb and unfair. But HR departments everywhere are all about fit all the time. You can’t escape it. Sorry, again.

Unfortunately, nobody is going to tell you any of this. You’ll be lucky if you even get notified that you didn’t get it (hiring managers are rude that way). So, you’ll just have to spend the rest of your life wondering.

Don’t give up. You’ll fit in somewhere.

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