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Application Unsuccessful: Reasons You Didn't Get That Dream Job

May 31, 2008
Working with online travel jobs, I've seen interview shortlists narrowed down until the company gets their candidate of choice, but what if you were amongst the rejected? It would be helpful to know just exactly what you've done wrong though, wouldn't it? 9/10 times, an unsuccessful job application will just be that there was someone that bit more qualified, and there's nothing that can be done in that instance, except to try again... but if this keeps happening, it may be worth considering some of the following, which are almost universally considered a bad thing on the recruitment circuit. Keep these tips for your job interview and you should do better next time!

Starting with the CV...

They Didn't Know How To Get Hold Of You

This one's simple enough - if your CV doesn't contain your contact information (address, telephone number, e-mail) then they can't contact you. Sure, you can argue that if you e-mailed your CV into them, then they could find your address, but you'd have to be exceptional for them to spend more than 5 minutes looking for you! This is all about ease of use...

You Didn't Have The Experience

Unfortunately, this is a common one, and one that's not an easy fix. If you don't have enough experience (or more usually, someone else who applied has more), then the only cure is to keep plugging away until you do. If you work in a creative field, it is quite easy to get freelance/voluntary work to give you more a portfolio to augment your corporate experience - a tip to get a job interview next time around.

Your CV Was Littered With Mistakes

One of the easiest ways of wheedling down a stack of CVs into a more manageable pile is to take out the ones with mistakes. If you haven't been careful enough to proofread thoroughly, the chances are you're too careless to work for your dream company, and yours will go straight into the 'unsuccessful application' pile!

You Got A Bad Reference

A bad reference will most likely kill your employment chances stone dead, and many recruiters will call them at this point in the proceedings, if you've included a contact on your CV. Of course, you could put that references are "available on request" in the hope that you can charm them enough that they either won't check, or will not believe the referee, but the best bet of all is to work hard enough that your contacts will have nothing but good things to say about you!

In the Interview

You Didn't Look the Part

Increasingly, the idea that workplaces are 100% formal has been greatly corroded, but the chances are that you won't know until you visit. As for advice on job interview dresscode, without a doubt it is best to be overdressed rather than underdressed, so if in doubt, wear a suit - or at least go smart/casual.

You should also make sure you are looking your best - it shouldn't come down to judging on appearances, but the interview panel are only human, and it's natural to take in these things, even if it's subconscious. Don't take any chances, or risk adding to your list of unsuccessful job applications.

You Not Expressed Words Well

You need to present your ideas clearly to be in with a good shot of getting the post. Work on speaking slowly and articulately, to ensure your interviewers don't have to second guess what you're saying.

One bit of job interview advice here: It's perfectly acceptable to be nervous in an interview, so there will be a little leeway for this, but at the same time it will put you at a disadvantage against someone who takes these events in their stride. Relax, take your time and see the meeting as a conversation rather than an assessment.

You Asked Too Many Questions?

The one thing worse than asking no questions in the interview is to do the complete opposite and ask hundreds! They do have other candidates to interview, and if you ask them about every little detail then you're going to annoy them eventually. If you have a tendancy to do this, there are two job interview tips to counter this: the first is to be articulate with you questions so that you can ask one that covers a few of your points, rather than taking them one at a time, and the other is...

Pay Attention!

If you follow everything the interviewers say, you can be sure you won't ask a question of something they've already explained... and you can ask them to clarify - much nicer! This is a simple piece of courtesy - they listen to you, you listen to them. Just think, would you employ someone who looks bored and distracted during your job interview?

You Were Late To The Party

Turning up late may be okay when meeting friends, but for something you're supposed to be that enthused about, you really should be on time. Unless you're very late, it would be harsh to not give you the job over this, but then if the other person was identical to you, but was early, then it would be a clear cut choice. A solid piece of job interview advice: call 'early' on time and 'on time' late - that way you're sure not to lose points for this.

You Knew Nothing About The Company

Sure, if it's a small company you're applying to work at, then they may not expect you to know about them instantly, but they'd expect you to be enthused enough to have done a little research! Spend a little time digging around their website, to make sure you have a good handle on who they are, what they do and what your position in the company would be. You may not get a chance to show off this knowledge, but if you do, then it's really impressive, and would easily put you ahead of a candidate who has turned up completely unprepared.

You Promised Too Much/Sounded Arrogant

With so many applications overselling people, it's no wonder than employers are a little on the cynical side, so when it comes to selling yourself, don't overdo it. Arrogance does not play well, and even if it is true, try and be a little humble about your achievements. If you rub the interviewers up the wrong way, then your application will be unsuccessful!

You Badmouthed Your Current Boss/Workplace

Sure, nobody has only positives to say about their workplace, but this really isn't the kind of thing you should be sharing with your potential future employers. If you're speaking this candidly about your past employers, why wouldn't you be this rude about them? Simple job interview tip: if you want to complain about your work, go out socially with friends, if you want a job, keep this under your hat and be diplomatic!

Too Much Enthusiasm Was A Turn Off!

Enthusiasm's great... in moderation. If you sound overly excited by everything, one of two things is going to happen: either they're going to think you're completely insincere, or they're going to find you a little too creepy/annoying to be able to work with Monday-Friday every week! This is of course tampered by the fact that sounding completely disinterested is, if anything, worse, but it's all a case of finding that perfect balance...

You Acted Like You Needed The Job

You and I know that this was the dream job, and that you were banking on it, but you shouldn't let them know that! The last thing you want to do in a job interview situation is to appear desperate - that's a major turn off for the interviewer. Again, this is a balancing act, because you want to look positive and that you are interested, just don't cross that fine line between motivated and needy, and you should be fine.

But of course the best way of finding out why your application was unsuccessful is to ask! Most places will happily give you a response to this, although it won't always be truthful... The best thing to do is to match up the feedback given by the interview panel against conventional job interview advice, and soon you should be on to a winner!
About the Author
Gail Kenny is the managing director of Puregenie, an online travel jobs website. Jobs on the site are catered exclusively to talented individuals with skills and experience to succeed in the online environment from businesses looking to increase their online presence. Although the site is mainly travel focussed, it also displays vacancies in the hospitality and leisure industries.
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