5 Red Flags That Make Employers Reject You

By Biron Clark

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Ever apply for a job you think you're great for, only to never hear back? Or have you ever walked out of an interview feeling excited and then find out the company hired somebody else? 

These scenarios happen for a lot of different reasons. While it’s not always in your control, there are some key areas that you do have control over that can often be the deciding factor. 

This article will walk you through the most common mistakes that might be costing you the job.

1. You Made a Mistake on the Job Application

Not everyone is detail-oriented by nature, but companies expect you to be when it comes to job applications.

Think of it from their perspective…

Your application is the first thing they see. They haven’t talked to you yet and they don’t know the quality of your work or anything else about you.

If your application is sloppy and contains mistakes, they’ll assume the rest of your work does too. Employers want to hire somebody who is careful and focused, not rushed and mistake-prone.

Take your time and go slow with your job application to make sure you give a great first impression. 


2. You Submitted a Generic Resume

Here’s how the typical hiring manager or recruiter reads your resume…

They sit down with a copy and they pull out the job description. They’re going to compare the two documents side-by-side, looking for overlaps.

They might be so familiar with the job description that they don’t need to look at a physical copy, but the comparison is still being made.

They want to see evidence that you can come in and perform this job specific job with the skills you already have.

Most job seekers look at their resume in a vacuum when writing, and try to show off their most impressive work in general.

That can be a great secondary goal, but your priority should be to show what’s most relevant for the specific job.

Make your resume about them, not about you, and you’ll receive far more interviews.

You can do this by tailoring your resume for each position. Sit down with the job description and write your resume to show as many similarities and overlaps as possible. Focus on relevancy before you focus on being impressive. 


3. You Didn't Seem That Interested in the Job

Tailoring your resume and submitting a clean job application is a great start to showing that you’re interested in the company.

In the interview itself, there are a few other areas to be careful of too…

Not knowing enough about the company is a big tipoff that you didn’t spend time preparing. They see that as a lack of interest.

To put their mind at ease in the interview, review the company website and get familiar with their story. 

What's their mission or goal? How do they make money? Who is their typical customer?

Knowing this will help you give impressive answers to interview questions like, “What do you know about us?”

Another benefit of this is when it comes time to ask questions of your own, you’ll have a lot more info to base your questions on.

Here’s an example of something you could ask to sound impressive: “I read on the website that your customers are mostly small startups and local businesses, why do they choose your service?”


4. You Weren't Confident in the Interview

If a company reviewed your resume and invited you to interview, they must have seen something they like in your background. Right?

So walk in confident and act like you know you can deliver what they need in this role.  

If you hesitate in the interview and don’t seem fully confident that you can perform the job, why would they hire you?

I recommend you prepare good answers for any questions that require you to brag about yourself.

Here are a few examples of questions you should be ready for:

  • What accomplishment are you most proud of?
  • What’s your greatest strength?
  • Why should we hire you?
  • What’s a recent challenge you’ve faced and what was the outcome?


5. You’re a Flight Risk

Regardless of how talented you are, companies are not going to hire you if they think you’re going to leave after 6 months.

There are a few mistakes that will give them this impression.

If you’ve made frequent job changes in your past, make sure you have a good explanation for each. You need to provide a convincing answer when they ask or they will worry about it happening again.

Also, be cautious of showing too much interest in only the company, as opposed to the position itself.

It’s great to seem interested in both, but show a bit more excitement about the job if you can.

You’re talking to a hiring manager who handles one area most likely.

If you only seem interested in the company they’ll worry that you just want to get your foot in the door with this company, but the day-to-day work won’t interest you.

That means an increased chance you’ll leave, ask for a transfer, etc.

Also be careful with the questions you ask. If you seem too focused on a future promotion, or something the role doesn’t directly offer, you’ll scare the company off.

For example if a job is an individual contributor role and you ask multiple questions about future leadership opportunities, the hiring manager is going to worry that you won’t be happy for long.

Even if you’ve shown you can perform the job, they might not hire you.  



As a final thought, remember that nobody gets a callback from 100% of the companies they apply to. And nobody gets an offer from 100% of their interviews.  

Don't get discouraged if a couple of companies aren’t interested.

Focus on the impression you're giving and the things that you do have control over, repeat the process and you will get the result you want. 


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