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Nailed the Interview but Didn’t Get the Job? Here’s Why

Learn the secret to that no-offer mystery so you can shake it off and start again

You leave your interview thinking you really brought it home. You even catch happy hour to celebrate. Then, you get the email stating the company has moved on with their search… even though you were a ‘strong candidate.’

You wonder, “what went wrong?” The truth is, you may never know. Sometimes there was an internal candidate all along, and other times you did something seemingly small that immediately killed your chances of landing the gig.

Without being too hard on yourself, take a look at these things that may have cost you the job. Then buck up and get back to the job boards.

1. Your Online Presence Did You In

You may have crushed the interview, but your online presence could be the thing that caused you to get passed over.

Hiring managers are known for running backdoor reference checks—Google searches, scanning your LinkedIn, and more—to thoroughly vet a candidate, says David Blacker, managing principal of digital marketing agency Venerate Media Group.

And while a few online pics of you partying is one way to lose credibility, Blacker says another thing to look out for is being overly obnoxious on your social chanels.

“We’ve empowered a society of digital engagements, which is great because it gives everyone a voice,” says Blacker. “But it’s also bad because the younger generation isn’t cognizant of what may result from their digital actions.”

For next time: Make sure your social channels are not only clean of party pictures and anything else risqué, but that your online conversations and political or social views don’t turn people away—especially hiring managers.

Want even more help for your next interview? The counselors with Mediabistro’s Career Services can help you refine your interview skills in a one-on-one session.

2. You Sounded Too Rehearsed

This one’s a little tough to hear, but sometimes relying too much on your pre-planned responses can work against you.

Repeating rehearsed answers can make it sound like you’re simply going through the motions, says Amy Medieros, marketing manager at internet tech startup “You aren’t expressing your personality or giving yourself the opportunity to adapt to the environment and the interviewer’s personality.”

Ray Beharry, head of marketing at Pollfish, agrees: “[N]o one wants to be fed a line in an interview, any more than they would want to hear a ‘pickup line’ at a bar.”

For next time: In order to keep the interview authentic and unscripted, draw from past experiences, speaking from the heart about your values as they relate to the company’s mission.

3. You Came Off Arrogant

In every interview, you want to appear confident. But sometimes too much confidence can come off as arrogance. And nobody likes a show-off.

“Arrogance can be spotted from a mile away,” says Beharry. “Arrogant people come in with an attitude, don’t show any active listening skills and want to lecture or preach to show their seniority to the interviewer or another candidate.”

For next time: Remember to be confident, yet humble. Maintain self-awareness, humility and Beharry says, “suggest wisdom that can help the interviewer ascertain your true value and potential impact to the organization.”

“No one comes back from an interview thinking ‘That candidate has impressive credentials, but man were they arrogant! I think we should hire them anyway,’” Beharry adds.

4. You Didn’t Sound, Like, Professional

You could be the smartest person on your trivia team, and even the brightest candidate in the running, but a few missteps in your phrasing can completely work against your perceived intelligence.

The way you speak in an interview is a good indication of how you communicate in business overall. “You don’t want a candidate that is going to say ‘like’ and ‘um’ to clients,” says Medieros.

And while this may be a tough pill to swallow—since it’s an interview and you’re just nervous, c’mon!—it’s how many hiring managers roll.

For next time: Interviewers want to see how you can represent their brand to clients; take your time speaking clearly and concisely, without the “likes” and “ums.”

And if these filler words are a big problem for you, consider enlisting a friend to run a mock interview, counting the number of times you use those trouble words. For a full list of trouble phrases, check out this piece on words that make you sound less smart.

5. Your Personalities Clashed

You nailed every interview question and asked incredible follow-ups, but think about it: Were you and the hiring manager just not clicking? If so, this difference in personalities may have been your reason for getting passed over.

Incompatibility is out of your control, and can be a blessing. After all, you two would be working together at least 40 hours a week, and, as Blacker says, “you don’t want to have an ‘oil and water’ mixture that is toxic.”

For next time: Keep being you. Don’t diminish your personality or act the part just to get the job. Of course, it’s important to remain professional and confident in an interview, but if you and the company’s culture are polar opposites, it’s better to know sooner than later.

Don’t get down. There are many jobs on the board. Keep at it and you’ll be sure to find something that sticks.

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