We all experience job rejections at some point in our careers. Sometimes it’s a surprise because you thought the interview went so well. Other times, you can feel for yourself that it’s a poor match and anticipate the rejection. In those cases, you are probably picking up on signs that you didn’t get the job. We’ll tell you all about such warning signs so you can be a step ahead.
In this article we’ll discuss:
Common signs that you won’t be receiving a job offer
How long it should take to hear back after a job interview
How to respond to a job rejection email, and how to ask about why you weren’t chosen
17 signs you didn’t get the job
Job rejections are common for every single professional. They should not deter you! In fact, they can even be an essential part of your professional growth.
If you’re wondering how to know if the interview didn’t go well, look for these signs. They’re not concrete, but more often than not, they signify that receiving a job offer is not a likely outcome.
It’s too quick. The surest sign of not being a top candidate for a job is if the interview is too quick. It’s not necessarily about meeting a specific time marker, but rather taking note of the pace at which the discussion moves. A quick-paced interview can often indicate that the interviewer has already found the top candidates and is not giving you much of their attention. In the most promising interviews, the conversation goes in-depth about the position and your experience, then organically turns casual. If this didn’t happen in your interview, there’s a chance you will not be offered the job.
You feel like your responses were cut off. If you were interrupted repeatedly by the interviewer or felt like you didn’t get your whole answer out, it could be a sign that they have a different candidate in mind. An interested interviewer will take the time to listen intently to everything you have to share.
You’re told you’re lacking essential qualifications that can’t be trained. It’s encouraged to apply for jobs even if you don’t meet all of the qualifications. However, there are some qualifications that are so crucial to the position that not having them is a deal breaker. Try not to take it personally, and if anything, let this rejection guide how you develop professionally.
They ask you to run through your resume and nothing else. If your interview mainly consists of you describing your resume achievements and work history but doesn’t get into details of any of it, it could be a sign you didn’t get the job. Relevant work experience should leave a lot to discuss.
They don’t respond to your thank you email or other follow-up attempts. It will always reflect well on you to send some sort of outreach following an interview. Thank you emails are common immediately following the interview, and follow-up emails after a week of hearing nothing are also appropriate. However, if you don’t receive a response in return, it’s a sign that you didn’t get the job.
The job posting remains active after your interview. While not always indicative of rejection, an active job posting after your interview does indicate that the company would like to consider more candidates. In this case, while you might have been a good contender, they are likely looking for someone who will better match their qualifications.
You find that you can’t respond to their questions with specifics from your prior experience. A sign of a poor interview is when you can’t speak the language of the position due to a lack of experience. A candidate with relevant experience will be able to respond to questions with specific insight into the field. Whether that’s computer program names, licenses, or legal terms, the perfect candidate will be as industry-specific as possible.
The interviewer cancels the interview or reschedules multiple times. Interviewers are eager to hire a quality candidate. If they are being flaky about the interview, they might not be interested in your qualifications. Alternatively, it could indicate poor company organization, in which case you may be dodging a bullet.
They don’t say outright that you weren’t selected, but won’t offer you the job either. If you experience this, then you’re being strung along. The company doesn’t want to lose you as a potential candidate, but they aren’t making you any promises either. It’s a bit of a gray zone, and it might take you to decide for yourself if you want to consider any offers should they come along.
You walk away still having questions about the position. If the interview felt vague or left you unsure what the position would even entail, it’s a sign you didn’t get the job. Part of being a qualified candidate means being able to juggle all aspects of the position. Interviewers want employees to be informed going into the job, so they make sure to describe all important information about it. If you didn’t receive that, you may not get an offer.
You’re told, “You’ll hear from us if selected”. A statement like this isn’t promising and is even evasive in nature. An interviewer would say outright when you should hear from someone if they were serious about you as a candidate.
They didn’t reach out to you by the day they said they would. If you’ve waited all week and the day you were supposed to hear by has come and gone, chances are that you didn’t get the job. You should always send a follow-up email to inquire, and sometimes doing so can even lead to being given an offer after all.
They’re adamant that they cannot meet your salary expectations. When a company is highly interested in a candidate, they will go to lengths to negotiate a salary. If instead, you receive an email frankly saying they can’t meet your expectations, it’s a sign you didn’t get the job. Don’t lower your salary standards in this situation, your work should be valued fairly.
They let you know they have other candidates to consider. Sometimes hearing a statement like this is just a professional courtesy to indicate that they cannot offer any positions until they’ve met with all candidates. Oftentimes though, it means you didn’t get the job and they are trying to gently let you know they are going to consider other options.
The interviewer didn’t seem excited about your prospect. Listen to the body language of the interviewer. If the interview felt dull or uninspired, there's a good chance it was. An interviewer does their job best when they find excellent candidates for a job. When they find that person, it’s exciting for everyone.
They’ll say they’ll keep your resume on file. Being told this means that the interviewer generally liked you, but that it won’t work for this particular position. If you keep up to date with their job postings and try again, it could benefit you to already be in their system.
“You’re overqualified”. This might sound good at first, but what it really means is that the company isn't willing or able to pay you what you're worth based on your qualifications. If you’re told this, it’s a sign you didn’t get the job.
How long should it take to hear back from a job?
Typically speaking, companies have a schedule for when to post a job, when to conduct interviews, and when to hire a candidate. While every company is different, making a decision on hiring should take between one to two weeks at most.
It’s great practice to finish up an interview by inquiring about when you should expect to hear from someone. You will usually be given either a specific date, or be told by the end of this/next week. If that day arrives and you haven’t heard from anyone, you can send a follow-up email to ask.
Is it okay to ask why you didn't get the job?
Yes, you can always ask the interviewer for feedback about why you weren’t selected. It’s not guaranteed that they’ll respond, but it indicates a great company if they do. Let them know that you want to grow from this, and if appropriate, reaffirm your interest in working for the company.
How to respond to being told you didn’t get the job
The most important thing to remember is that during a job hunt, your goal is to open up as many doors as possible. Even in rejection, you are being given an opportunity to expand your network. Use any contact with a company to make a good impression. Respond respectfully and empathetically, and let them know that you would love to be considered for future opportunities. In the best-case scenario, your professional demeanor will land you a job in the future.
Keeping these signs in mind as you reflect on your interview can save you from being shocked by the news of not getting the job.
An interview can go well and you still may not be offered the job. Use these experiences as insights on where to strengthen your skills, then get back out there!
Being rejected from a job doesn’t have to mean a closed door with that company.