Careers advice

Why do I keep getting rejected from jobs?

Let’s work out what’s going wrong.

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 things can go wrong. 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?

Right now, things are tougher than usual in the job market. Covid-19 has meant many Kiwis have lost jobs, and businesses are finding it tougher too. This means there are more job hunters than usual out there competing for fewer roles.

However, if you’re consistently not making it to the job interview stage, there’s a good chance you’re making one, or more, of the following mistakes:

Let's get to that fist pump moment

1. 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.

For some roles, for example doctors, lawyers or scientists, you’ll need relevant academic qualifications under your belt 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!

2. 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 breakdown 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.

3. 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:

  1. 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, if they think you’re a strong candidate.
  2. 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.
  3. 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 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 good 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.