Careers advice

Why do I keep getting rejected from jobs?

Let’s work out what’s going wrong.

What you’ll learn:

  • Why you aren’t making it to the interview stage
  • Why you’re consistently getting interviews, but not being hired

If you keep getting rejected from jobs, we understand it can get demoralising.

But the real question is, why is this happening?

We’re going to look at two key stages of the job hunting process, before the interview and after it, and examine some common reasons why you’re losing out. We’ll then make suggestions on what you might be able to change to improve your luck next time around.

Why am I not getting a job interview?

1. You’re missing application deadlines

A very simple explanation for why you’re not getting invited to come in for a job interview is because you aren’t getting your application in on time.

Often, listings on Trade Me Jobs will include a specific deadline as part of the information. However, the general rule of thumb is that the earlier you can get your application in, the better. That’s not to say that, if you only come across a listing on the deadline day that you shouldn’t send in an application – applying is always better than not applying – but if you can get in early, you might stand a better chance of making it onto the interview shortlist.

Let's get to that fist pump moment

2. It’s just not the right job for you

All roles, from weekend jobs to CEO positions will have a required set of skills and experiences the employer wants to see.

In some cases, for example doctors, lawyers or scientists, you’ll need relevant academic qualifications to stand a realistic chance of being called to interview. The same goes for many trade roles, where employers want to see specific industry certificates before hiring you.

How do I know if I’m qualified for a job?

The easiest way to work this out is by checking the job ad. A good job listing will give specifics around what skills and experience (often given in years) you’ll need in order to be considered for the role.

If you’ve read the job description and still aren’t sure if you should apply, we’d recommend getting in touch with the employer or recruiter to find out more.

Note: it’s important to know the difference between role requirements and things that would be beneficial, but aren’t 100% necessary. If you meet all the role requirements, but are missing a couple of the ‘nice to haves’, go ahead and apply!

3. Your CV or cover letter needs tweaking

Even if you’re qualified for the role you’re applying to, if your CV and cover letter aren’t on point, you’re fighting an uphill battle. Both of these documents are essential to getting a job interview, so you need to take proper time and care to get them right.

Here are some resources that will help:

  • How to write a great NZ style CV this guide will help you make sure your CV includes all the information recruiters and hiring managers want to see. It’s also got some free, downloadable templates you can use to nail the formatting.
  • How to write a cover letterin this article, we break down writing a cover letter paragraph by paragraph, and provide examples so you know exactly what to say to catch a reader’s eye.
  • Mistakes to avoid in a cover letter: several common problems occur in cover letters, so we created this guide to help you avoid them yourself.

Take the time to ensure your CV and cover letter tick all the boxes.

4. You’re not taking full advantage of your online presence

Recruitment is an increasingly online process, so having a strong, professional looking digital presence is important.

Firstly, we recommend setting up a Trade Me Jobs’ Profile. There are several benefits of this platform:

  • It allows employers and recruiters to find you: if your profile is set to ‘public’, recruiters and hiring managers can reach out to you with opportunities you might not have seen..
  • It can generate a CV for you: once your profile is fully set up, you’ll have the option to download a fully-formatted CV based on the skills and experiences you’ve included.
  • It’s easy to update: once you get a new job, learn a new skill or gain a new qualification, you can simply add this to what you've already included.

On top of this, it’s worth thinking about your social media platforms. If your profiles are set to public, you should assume hiring managers and recruiters will check them out – do you have any howlers among your old posts? Here’s how you can give your social presence a spring clean.

    Why do I keep getting rejected after job interviews?

    If you’re always making it to interview, but no further, this could be because:

    1. Your prep is missing something

    Going into a job interview without preparing for what you’re likely to face is a recipe for disaster.

    This step-by-step guide will walk you through the stages you should go through, from the minute you get your invitation to meet through to walking out of the door on the day itself.

    2. You haven’t practiced answering common questions

    This is the most important part of your preparation, and deserves its own section. While every job interview will have questions that specifically relate to the role you’ve applied for, there will also almost certainly be many standard questions from this list for which you’ll need to have impressive answers.

    Practice your answers to common job interview questions with a friend or family member.

    3. Maybe it’s the little things...

    Answering the interviewer’s questions well is the most important thing to get right. However, us humans are a judgy bunch, so there are other factors that contribute to the impression you’ll make upon the panel;. Among the important things to think about are your body language during the interview, and your choice of clothing.

    4. You didn’t ask questions of your own

    Normally, the interviewer will provide you with an opportunity to ask your own questions at the end of the meeting. This isn’t an optional thing, you need to have something prepared. Asking questions shows you’ve been paying attention, and are genuinely interested in the job and organisation. Check out these suggestions if you’re struggling to come up with questions of your own.

    5. Your salary expectations were unreasonable

    It’s very likely that you’ll end up talking about salary at some stage during the interview process, so it’s best to be prepared. The most important part of this preparation is having a good idea of the nationwide average salary for your role, so you can quote a reasonable figure when you’re asked what your expected salary would be.

    6. You focused too much on your technical skills

    At first glance, this might sound counterintuitive – surely employers want to know that you’ve got the hard skills to get the job done? Of course they do, but they also want to know that you’ll be a positive presence in the office, and that you’ll work well with others.

    Your job is to make sure your soft skills and personality shine through during interviews and prove that you’ll be more than just a competent pair of hands but rather a valuable member of the team.