Job Search & Interview

Top Candidate but No Job Offer? The 9 Reasons Why You Didn’t Get Hired

Imagine this: You’re being interviewed for your dream job. You’re able to answer all the questions well. You and the recruiter just click. You’re even invited to a second interview with HR. They let you know that you’re a top candidate and that they’ll get back to you as soon as possible. 

Then BAM! Crickets. Or, you receive an email thanking you for your time but that they decided to push through with someone else. Can you imagine your disappointment?

No doubt you’ll be wondering, “Why? I’m a top candidate but no job offer came through.” Well, I’ll give you 9 reasons why you may have been skipped. This way, you’ll be able to counter these reasons and do a better job next time. 

Read More: How To Ask For A Second Chance Interview With Email Examples

9 Reasons Why a Top Candidate Doesn’t Get a Job Offer

What went wrong? Why didn’t you get any more feedback from your interviewer even though you were a very likely candidate? Well, here are 9 reasons to consider (and 9 ways to improve in your next job interview):

  1. Someone is just better than you
  2. Recruiters say things to more than one candidate
  3. Your preparation fell short
  4. Your references did not provide the support expected
  5. Your social resume told a different story
  6. It was a good but not an amazing interview
  7. You got the wrong impression
  8. You acted inconsistently
  9. Something changed

1. Someone is just better than you

The initial recruitment process goes perfectly. Your second interview goes great as well. The hiring manager even outlined the next steps and offered a salary range. So why didn’t you get the job offer?

The hard truth: someone might have just been a better candidate than you. An employer goes through 6 to 10 applicants for a job position. If they’re only hiring one person, you’re fighting against 5 or 9 other people. 

If you were able to provide 5 great reasons to hire you, maybe someone was able to provide 10 fantastic reasons to hire them. The best solution to this is to offer 11 phenomenal reasons to outqualify everyone else. 

Alison Green, the person behind the Ask a Manager website, says:

Sometimes a stronger candidate just emerges. The interviewer’s enthusiasm about you was almost certainly genuine but if someone else seems like the better match, they’re going to go with that person.

Read More: How To Spots Companies That Interview With No Intention Of Hiring You

2. Recruiters say things to more than one candidate

Say you’re banking on receiving a job offer because the hiring manager said that they’re excited about you. They tell you that you did a great job during the whole interview process. This is a big morale boost to know that you did a great interview. 

I’m sorry to burst your bubble. But, the same recruiter probably said that to the other top candidates that they interviewed. It’s just what they say when they’ve found a good match. 

One way to counter this huge blow is to not assume things and get your hopes up high. No matter what the hiring manager said to you. This way, you’ll know that you should continue with your job search until you get the job offer. 

3. Your preparation fell short

Benjamin Franklin once said, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” And this is so true for your round of interviews. If you don’t go through a thorough interview prep, you can make one small mistake and miss your chances of landing your dream job. 

Sure, the hiring manager liked you and the interview went well. But a more prepared candidate (someone who did their research, prepared answers to questions, and all that) will be chosen over you. The reason? They had a full arsenal to convince the hiring manager that they were the best person to fulfill the job position. 

So if you’re a shortlisted candidate, take the time to prepare. Learn about the company. Research the job position or industry. Prepare answers to traditional and unique questions. List relevant questions to ask. Practice your speech in front of the mirror or with a friend. Wear the appropriate attire. Be confident. 

Read More: Can You Be Offered A Job After Being Rejected?

4. Your references did not provide the support expected

Let’s say the last call or email you received was from the hiring manager asking for several references. Well, you give the names and info of your previous employers that you trust. After that, you get the word that they decided to reject your job offer (or you don’t get any word at all). 

The reason for this could be because your “referee” gave a bad reference about you. No matter how qualified for the job you are, this will ruin your image. And, well, the employer will prefer someone who only has good and accurate things said about them. 

OK, you aren’t going to know if this is the reason why you didn’t get the job. But it might be. So before you give out references, you must choose wisely. 

Go for the people who can speak highly of your skills, work performance, and work ethic. This might be your supervisor, boss, or even client. The person should also truly know you. What’s more, they should be able to match your interview answers (it’s wise to reconnect with these people to give them a heads-up). 

Read More: 9 Ways to Choose Professional References for A Job

5. Your social resume tells a different story

You have your job resume that’s customized and well-crafted. During the interview, you showed your best behavior – professional, poised, confident, and articulate. All this is what’s expected. 

However, a recruiter might check your social media activity as part of their application process. This is their way of seeing what type of person you are outside of the job scene. 

Well, if they see something there that they don’t like (whether pictures, shares, or even likes), they will most likely dismiss you. You’ll be shocked to know that more than 50% of employers don’t push through with job seekers because of something they found on their social media platforms

Of course, you’re not expected to post about work-related topics all the time. However, it’s a good idea to pause and give it a second thought before you hit that post, share, or like button. Will your online presence give a bad impression about you? If the answer is ‘yes’, then it’s time to do a profile cleansing. 

6. It was a good but not an amazing interview

So your interview turned out well. That’s great. This means that you have the right qualifications for the position. But you shouldn’t settle for just good. 

No, it needs to be an amazing interview. You need to be able to stand out and be the most memorable. Amanda Datchens, Co-Founder of Real Life Career Advice, gives us her take on this:

Recruiters and hiring managers interview lots of applicants every day and there are two types of people that are memorable and stand out from the crowd. The really good and the really bad. In other words, sometimes good simply isn’t good enough. Good gets you shortlisted – but memorable gets you the job offer. Your interview could have been great but did you do enough to set yourself apart from all the other great interviews they conducted for the position?

So how do you stand out? You have to prove that you can make an impact and not just do the job. You can list down all your previous work achievements. Think of the times that you used critical thinking to produce impressive results.

You can also read the job description carefully and look for keywords you can focus on. If the description has the keyword ‘innovative’, ready samples where you were innovative. Engaging with the interviewer in a conversational style can make you remembered, too. 

7. You got the wrong impression

You passed the interview but got no offer? Maybe you’re the only one that thought the interview went great. The employer, on the other hand, thought it wasn’t that good. It’s easy to get the wrong impressions, especially if the person behind the desk is being professional. 

The best way to counter this is to ask for feedback. Even better, ask for it right after the interview, while you still have their attention. 

When you’re given actionable or specific feedback, you’ll know what you need to work on for your next interview (whether with the same company or not). This way, you won’t have to assume things and feel disappointed when you get the wrong impression.

8. You acted inconsistently

Someone from Quora gave a very insightful story that gives us a perfect example of this. Let’s look at the story. 

“We had interviewed a great candidate for my team a while back. He was bilingual, sharp, and quick on his feet. We desperately needed someone like him. As the manager, I was very ready to pull the trigger and bring him on board… 

The role was basically a customer-facing sales job, so as a final step, we always invite people out for a team dinner and drinks. Typically it goes smoothly and there are no surprises. We all have a good chat over a few drinks and let them ask us questions. We address any concerns they have…

So on this particular day, we all sat down at the restaurant… The candidate shows up on time and the team greets him enthusiastically with smiles… We start chatting for a bit. He’s a bit nervous, so we try and loosen him up. It’s five people staring at one person, so I go around the table and ask others some questions…

He loosens up a bit, but not by much. The waitress brings his beer, so I’m hoping that this will chill him out. It doesn’t. He turns bright red like a chili pepper and goes totally silent… He’s stone-cold, quiet, awkward, and isn’t making conversation… My mind jumps to the obvious: there’s no way this guy is going to be able to swing it in front of our high-pressure, often scary clients.”

Do you think this manager hired that guy? For sure, no. Yes, he was the perfect fit for the job during the interview. However, he was very inconsistent when it came to the actual test.

9. Something changed

Top candidate but no job offer? Sometimes, it’s not you at all. It’s them. 

Maybe you were the perfect match. You stood out. You were consistent. You had the right skills and experience. The hiring manager was getting an offer made for you. But, you face rejection. 

If so, one of the common reasons is that something has changed within the company. Maybe the hiring budget was cut. Maybe the employer realized that they need something different, so the job description changes (and no longer matches what you offer). Maybe there is an internal candidate that pops up and will always be preferred over anybody else. Or, maybe someone that the company was eyeing for a long time suddenly became available to join them. 

In this scenario, there’s nothing you can do. Only, don’t beat yourself up. If you did your very best to secure the job but it turns out unsuccessful, remember that it might not be your fault at all. It could be that things within the company changed. 

Final Words

Top candidate but no job offer? Look into the 9 reasons you probably didn’t get hired. From there, work your way through them all and follow the solutions that I provided. This will help you throughout your hiring process, getting interviews, and going through round interviews. It will also help you finally land that dream job. So good luck!

About Author

Founder of With over 20 years of experience in HR and various roles in corporate world, Jenny shares tips and advice to help professionals advance in their careers. Her blog is a go-to resource for anyone looking to improve their skills, land their dream job, or make a career change.

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