Wednesday, 19 May 2010

20 reasons why you didn't get the job

A survey of 153 American Human Resource Managers by Arthur Bedeian in 1986 identified the 20 most common errors made by applicants attending job interviews. With a slight element of artistic interpretation, here's the list (in order of importance) of reasons why you didn't get the last job you were interviewed for:
  1. You were poorly dressed
  2. You were overaggressive
  3. You were unable to express information clearly
  4. You lacked interest and enthusiasm
  5. You displayed no career planning
  6. You appeared nervous and lacking in confidence
  7. You overemphasised the importance of the pay for the job
  8. You were unwilling to start at the bottom
  9. You made excuses
  10. You were lacking in tact and courtesy
  11. You appeared immature
  12. You condemned your past employers
  13. You displayed no genuine in the company or the job
  14. You failed to look the interviewer in the eye
  15. Your application form was poorly completed
  16. You didn't seem to have a sense of humour
  17. You were late for the interview
  18. You failed to express appreciation for the interviewer's time
  19. You failed to ask questions about the company and the job
  20. Your responses to questions were vague

A few questions though:
  • The survey was undertaken in 1986: do you think the results would be the same if repeated today?
  • Would the results be the same if European HR Managers were asked to list their reasons for rejecting candidates?
  • Would the results be the same if it was line managers rather that HR Managers who were asked to rate their reasons for rejection?


  1. It’s interesting that the majority of these reasons would probably map across to many other human interactions. So, why did the blind date fail? Well, he was poorly dressed, over aggressive, lacked enthusiasm, appeared immature, turned up late, was unwilling to start at the bottom – not sure about that one but you never know!!

    I guess today you might get a ‘didn’t meet the required competency scores’ in the list and there would be other politically correct answers but boil it down to the nitty gritty and I don’t think selection will ever really get away from the impressions you have about an individual. You could have the greatest experience in the world but if a number of the reasons above are applicable – then you are probably on a hiding to nothing.


  2. Inversly if you are well dressed, aggressive, confident, mature, praised your previous employers, constantly looked the interviewer in the eye, you were early, asking a lot of probing questions about the position.

    May not either get the position. I find job interviews are also about power positioning. A younger interviewer who is still hesitant, may look on positively when the interviewee takes the lead, but an older interviewer may consider such behaviour as threatening.

  3. Just goes to show - interviews are far from perfect!


  4. shoaib hussain khan27 May 2010 at 06:39

    well i agree that if we take all these things inversely then interviewee again not get the job cause it depends on the criteria of interview and on interviewer!