Why Am I Getting Knocked Out After The First Interview?

Optimism is the most important (and hardest) thing to maintain during a job search. We want to land that amazing job, provide a better life for our family, and feel like our talents are appreciated. Which is why it's SO frustrating to interview for a position, think it went well, and not hear anything back! Related: How To Prepare For A Job Interview "What's wrong with me?" you ask yourself. The answer? Nothing. A hiring manager passing on you is rarely a reflection of a personal failing. Instead, it usually boils down to issues within the following areas:

1. You Come Off As Desperate For The Job

Look, obviously you want the job. You wouldn't agree to an interview otherwise. But no one wants to hire someone who seems like they're willing to say or do anything for the offer because a) it prevents them from getting a genuine understanding of his or her strengths, and b) it fosters a low-value impression. Employers don't want low-value. They want to feel like they nabbed an in-demand professional who'd be a genuine asset to the company.


Set the right standards before you ever set foot in the interview. Create a resume that's confident, targeted towards the job, and emphasizes quantifiable accomplishments with minimal fluff. Set clear time limits for phone and face-to-face interviews: if you agree to a 15-minute call, set a timer and cut the call at the 15-minute mark (giving up free time makes you seem needy). At the end of the interview ask, "Is there anything in my answers or background that would prevent you from furthering me as a candidate of choice?" This shows major confidence and allows you to proactively address red flags head-on.

2. You're Not A Match With The Culture

Aligning your presentation and style of communication with the in-house culture of a company can pay off big time. Time and time again, studies show that likability plays a huge role in hiring decisions, often winning out over who's the most experienced for the job. Why? Because we want to work with fellow members of the tribe, not outsiders.


  • Do a social media deep dive (tweets, FB posts, LinkedIn company page) to get a sense of what's important to the company and how they communicate.
  • Show up a little early and listen to how employees talk to one another.
  • Research the company on Glassdoor.com for information about a company's culture directly from current and past employees.
  • Pay close attention to staff photos, and dress in a style that's in-line with that.

3. You're Going To Need A Lot Of On-The-Job Training

Generally speaking, companies want people who can hit the ground running upon being hired. If you're spending precious time during an interview trying to convince a hiring manager of how quickly you can learn new skills or adapt to their working practices, you're actually doing yourself a disservice. All they hear is, "This person is going to require additional time, that I don't have, to get up to speed." This will often result in a pass.


In addition to analyzing the job posting, do some research on the company beforehand to get a sense of the major challenges they're facing, and come in with a game plan of what you can do immediately to move the ball forward. Ask questions designed to get a closer read on their situation, and tailor your answers to address them. No one is expected to know 100% of a job before they're hired; just don't harp on what's missing. One last tip: withhold questions about salary and benefits during a first interview. Keep it focused on the value you can provide, not what's in it for you. Wishing you much success!

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About the author

Anish Majumdar, CEO of ResumeOrbit.com is a nationally recognized executive resume writer, LinkedIn expert, and interview coach. Surveyed clients report a 40-60% reduction in placement times through working with him, and typically secure offers at least $10-40K higher. Schedule a free LIVE Resume Critique with Anish, or connect with him on LinkedIn. Disclosure: This post is sponsored by a CAREEREALISM-approved expert. You can learn more about expert posts here. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

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