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Your Interview Went Well But You Were Rejected

I have a relative who not too long ago had something interesting – and in her mind disturbing – happen after a job interview.

In her mind, the interview went very well. Her qualifications were a good match for the job requirements, she was able to answer the questions with no difficulty, and she seemed to click with the interview panel. At the end, several complimentary comments were made and she fully expected to be called for a second interview.

Then nothing happened for two weeks. She finally received a form letter in the mail advising her that she was not eligible at this time to be hired.

Of particular note was the wording used. It said ‘not eligible, rather than ‘not qualified’. She was understandably confused and called the company’s HR department to ask what ‘not eligible’ meant. She was told that company policy was to not provide reasons for hiring decisions.

Since she knew I’m a Hiring Manager she asked me what I thought it meant.

You may have also had a similar experience. You pulled off a great interview, only to find out you were subsequently turned down without being given a specific reason. What this frequently means is that the company found out, or think they found out, something negative about you or your background.

Here are some likely areas to consider.

Your References

Were you asked for your references and if so did you provide them? In checking them, they may have received some negative comments.

This should be the most unlikely reason. Presumably, you’ve chosen your references carefully, obtained their permission in advance, and alerted them that you’ve had an interview and they may be getting a call. If you’ve done all this, it might be that a well intentioned comment simply conflicted with what they were looking for.

To minimize the chance that this was the reason, make sure you let your references know two things every time you go on an interview: the name of the company, and as much information as possible about the position.

Send them a copy of the job posting if you can, so that they’ll know the job requirements and can speak positively about them if they are called.

Your Previous Employers

Since you’re always required to name your previous employers, it’s possible they were called and gave negative feedback about you. Unfortunately, there’s not much you can do to prevent this.

Many job applications specifically ask you to check next to each previous job if it’s okay for them to contact that employer. The only one for which it’s acceptable to reply no is your current employer. If you’re currently employed, your prospective employer will understand that you don’t want anyone to know you’re looking for another job.

Of course, if you know for a fact that one of your previous employers will likely say something negative about you, you can ask that none be contacted. It won’t necessarily kill your chances, but if you do get an interview the odds are that you will be asked to explain this.

Background Check

It doesn’t happen often, but the company may have run a background check on you and it showed incorrect – and damaging – information about someone with your same name. This can happen when you have a very common name.

If you’ve had multiple turn downs with no reason given, that’s a red flag for you to run a background check on yourself. A Google search will give you several companies that perform this service. You will then know what you’re dealing with and can take corrective action.

Credit Check

You should always know your credit rating when applying for jobs. It’s become very common for companies to run credit checks on applicants, especially for finance or accounting positions. If your credit rating is low, that could very well be the reason you were turned down with the generic reason of ‘not eligible’.

Make sure you also pull a current credit bureau report on yourself from all three credit bureaus. If it’s been a while since you’ve checked your credit score, there’s a chance your identity has been stolen. Check for accounts that are unfamiliar to you.

Of course, if you haven’t provided your social security number, you can disregard this reason. However, know that you will eventually be required to give it and at that point, a credit check may be run.

It’s always disappointing to be turned down for a job, especially after what you thought was a good interview. It’s even more frustrating when no specific reason is given.

Your Social Media

HR personnel, as well as Hiring Managers, will frequently look at your online profile, given that social media is now all-encompassing.

Check your profiles on Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and any other social media accounts you have. Party pictures and objectionable material or posts can make you lose credibility, especially if they conflict with the principles of the company to which you applied.

Before your next interview, remove anything that may look offensive or picture you as a hard party person instead of a reliable employee.

The Bottom Line

If not getting a reason for a rejection after a good interview only happens once, I wouldn’t be concerned. If more than once, you’ll want to check these potential reasons and take whatever actions you can to remedy them.

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