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Why Didn’t I Make It Past The First Interview?

So far you have been successful with your CV and cover letter. Your potential new employers seem to really like what you have to offer, so you earned a coveted interview slot with them. Your first interview went really well, or so you thought! However, a couple of weeks have gone by without hearing back from them.

You have been left in a state of panic, constantly checking your messages for a response. When you finally get a rejection email or letter, you are then left wondering what the heck went wrong?

A lot of employers will send out a generic rejection letter to those applicants that didn’t make the cut. This doesn’t really help you though because most will not take the time or effort to explain why you lost out, or give you any indication about what was lacking from your application that made them overlook you.

This can leave your self-confidence severely dented. The next time you apply for a job, you will be left wondering if there is more that can be done, but how can you do more if no one tells you where you went wrong?

Let’s take a look at some questions to ask yourself to help discover possible reasons why you didn’t get past your first interview. If any of these questions ring true, then you can work on amending them for a better outcome with your next job application.

Were you fully prepared for your interview?

Did you do everything you possibly could to prepare yourself for your interview? There are some things that are out of your control, but taking steps to research the company, understanding their history, ethos and principles is a good step towards making yourself more familiar with the company.

Researching the most commonly asked interview questions and working out how to answer them in a positive way, is also of great importance. You want to be able to engage in a two-way conversation with your interviewers and project yourself well. Being hesitant or not knowing how to answer a common interview questions can make you look bad. It can make you look as it you cannot be bothered to do any research, or that you really don’t care too much about the company or the job on offer.

Did you come across as aloof or disinterested?

Interviewers will be looking for passionate and enthusiastic candidates that can show that they are interested in working for their company. Experienced HR staff are very good at telling the difference between a passionate candidate and one that is simply looking for any old job.

You need to be able to demonstrate why you are particularly interested in working for the company and in the role on offer. Explaining how the company mission statement, drive and purpose matches with your own beliefs can really help. Coming across as vague or simply focussing on the functional aspects of the role on offer will not be very convincing.

Were you too aggressive?

There is being passionate and enthusiastic in your interview, and there is being aggressive. Sometimes it can be hard to wind in your enthusiastic nature to hit the right balance between being engaging and pushy.

Taking control of the interview by talking over the interviewer, cutting off their questions early or interrupting them while they are explaining the finer details of the job on offer can all make you look way too enthusiastic and even aggressive. If the role requires you to be an equal part of an existing team, the interviewer will have doubts about your ability to fit seamlessly into the team, and you may even cause a lot of disruption that can affect the harmony and productivity of the team.

Did you make the right first impression?

Always try to remember that recruiters are judging you right from the very second that you walk through the interview door. First impressions really do matter, so think back to your interview and try to remember how your presented yourself. Did you walk in with confidence with your head held high and your shoulders back? Did you make instant eye contact with your interviewer, or did you stare at the floor? Did you keep a relaxed smile on your face and greet your interviewer with a firm handshake? Did you sit up straight in your chair, or were you slumped to one side?

Question every move you made to see if there was ever a second where you gave off a negative impression. Even down to the clothes that you were wearing and the bag or case that you carried with you. Making sure that what you wear for your interview is about one level up from what the staff wear is also wise. You want to look presentable, even if the company culture is for more smart / casual wear at work.


Take some time to work through these few important questions and make sure that you do your research and are fully prepared for your next interview and of course, your Vargo consultant can help you with any of the interview steps and processes.