Qualified Candidates Are Not Hired for a Variety of Reasons

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Tips for Job Seekers
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Qualified Candidates Are Not Hired for a Variety of Reasons

“Why didn’t I get the job?” is the most universal question job seekers ask.

You will seldom know the real reason.

Wishful thinkers sell themselves the false narrative that the most qualified candidate gets hired. This is simply not true. Of all business activities, hiring has the most bias. A candidate’s charisma – being likeable supersedes your skills and experience – plays a significant part in getting hired, as does being a referral (aka the power of networking.). Qualified as you may be, it’s incredibly easy to do simple things that destroy your chances of getting hired.

Regardless of how many letters you have after your name, your years of experience, or your reputation within your industry/field, there are many reasons an employer isn’t sayingyes!” to you, the most common being: 

Your social media is a turnoff.

Without a doubt, employers will Google you, dissect your social media activities, and review your LinkedIn profile to decide if you’re interview-worthy. If you’re applying to jobs, you’re well qualified for and not getting responses, consider your digital footprint. Meticulously go through your social media accounts. Delete anything unflattering that reflects poorly on you being a mature individual who makes good decisions. 

Tip: Before you post anything on social media, ask yourself: 

  • Am I boasting? (trying to impress)
  • Will this enhance or diminish my reputation? (personal brand)
  • Is it kind?
  • Is it true?
Image of someone pressing a like button on a social media page

You've got a negative attitude.

I’ve lost count of how many candidates I’ve met who complained about their former or current boss and sometimes their coworkers during an interview. They probably think this will show why they’re looking to make a change. Actually, it shows they’re a complainer and probably not a team player, which is someone I won’t hire.

Sage advice when it comes to interviews: If you have nothing nice to say, then say nothing at all. If you don’t know what to say when asked the question “why do you want to leave your current role?”, here are two articles to help you craft your answer:


You didn't do any research.

Even in the age of Google, I still get asked, “What does this company do?” If you don’t know what the company does, how it’s doing, what market it serves, or who its clients are, then you can’t tell me, let alone convince me, how you can add value to the company. Need research tips? Monster.ca has a great article on How to Research the Employer Before the Interview. 

You smell bad.

Hygiene is not as much of an issue in the era of virtual interviews, but with most companies returning to a hybrid situation, it will eventually come up.

Do you smoke? These days, approximately 10-15% of people smoke. Since your interviewer is most likely to be a non-smoker, they will smell your cigarette smoke, which will turn them off of hiring you. More importantly, your interviewer will be asking themselves how many smoke breaks you will need to take throughout the workday.

The same goes for heavy cologne or perfume use. You never know who has allergies or has fragrance sensitivity.

Other hygiene issues you’ll want to take care of before attending an interview:

  • Check your nails. Are they bitten down? Is there dirt under them? If you’re going to an interview, clean under your nails, and if you’re going to a lot of interviews, try and grow them out so you don’t show your nerves. 
  • Give your clothes a smell test a few days in advance of your interview, and run them through the wash a few times. If you can afford a steamer or can borrow one, run a steamer over your outfit to remove obvious wrinkles. 
  • Brush and floss your teeth right before the interview! If you won’t have the chance to do so, buy a pack of gum and chew a piece on your way to the interview (removing it before you go in). Carry some floss and do a mirror check in the nearest bathroom. When you’re close enough, an interviewer can smell bad breath a mile away, and will be able to see any food in your teeth. 
  •  Make sure you’ve washed and dried yourself the day of the interview. Clean hair and clean skin is an important part of your presentation, and can show even in virtual interviews. 
Cheerful young man wiping face with soft towel after washing it in the morning

You're desperate.

Have you ever done an interview while employed? If yes, I bet you were less nervous. You already had a job, so the pressure to find a job to pay your bills wasn’t there—you weren’t desperate!

man in black blazer holding cardboard sign that says need work in caps.

When you don’t have a job and are facing a tough job search, things are different. Job seeker desperation is tough to handle, and coming across as desperate for a job is a huge turnoff. So, play it cool, but not too cool; as you don’t want to seem indifferent to whether or not you get hired.

You don't look the part. (Image is everything!)

How you look when you are walking into an interview or greeting an interviewer in the reception area cannot be overstated.

How you dress is how you’ll be judged if:

    • You’re serious about being hired. 
    • You’re “one of them.” (You’ll be a fit.) 
    • You have respect for yourself and those around you.
Three women in blazers laughing together - one with curly hair and houndstooth white/black blazer, one with grey hair + blue blazer + purple scarf, one with black hair in ponytail in white blazer

Learn more about what to wear and avoid wearing to an interview with tips from Indeed.

Your salary expectations are unrealistic.

You are not a part of the organization with access to its paybands, which puts the value you can provide to an employer in question. It’s not uncommon for an interviewer to pass on a candidate if the candidate is looking for more money, benefits and perks than the position affords.

Research the salary range for the job you’re applying for to see what it pays in your area.
Be ready to negotiate for a compensation package you’ll be satisfied with. Although start-ups and small family businesses likely cannot offer you the compensation and benefits that large companies can, they may provide other worthwhile advantages such as
greater flexibility and more hands-on experience.

Close-up of woman's hand writing with a pen in a book. Pens of all colours on desk in front of her.

The good news is that all of the above can be corrected. Yes, even a digital footprint that turns off employers can be corrected! It’s just a matter of being honest with yourself, not playing the “I’m a victim!” game, and doing your homework to adjust how you present yourself in interviews.

We hope you have found these interview tips helpful! For additional interview support, check out our monthly workshop on Interview Techniques or register for our servicesto book a practice interview with one of our Employment Services Consultant.

Nick Kossovan, a well-seasoned veteran of the corporate landscape, offers advice on searching for a job. You can send Nick your questions at artoffindingwork@gmail.com.