The Millennial Career Dilemma Series -9 Got the Interview but not the Job- Here’s why?

By Shubika Bilkha


Did your heart do a quick leap for joy when the Placement Officer at your College said that you’ve been shortlisted for that keenly contested job interview?

Did you see that smile on your family’s face when you broke the news to them and some envy among your peers?

Did your mind go into overdrive to already start making plans for your Day 1 on the job and list what all you would buy with your first pay cheque?

Did you feel perfectly content that you nailed the interview?


And BAM, out of nowhere, were you hit by a completely uncalled for rejection letter?


If this is what you’ve just been through, don’t fret. We’ve all experienced this at some point or another!


Take a moment or several, deep breath in and just let out the emotion. Go to a quiet place and have a small cry if that’s what it takes. And then come back, sit down and do an honest assessment of what you could have done better. Remember, you only learn from each experience.


While career centers and recruitment managers do offer some feedback, more often than not its quick, vague and not hugely helpful. So then, how does one get a sense of the reasons for a job rejection?


After some careful research, inquiry and conversations with interviewers, I have listed a few broad reasons that could explain why you got the INTERVIEW, but not the JOB:


There were too many Awesome Contenders

This reason is largely out of your control and you should give yourself a huge pat on the back for even just being shortlisted. They obviously found your resume credible enough to call you for an interview!


Awkward Communication

Interviewers look for clarity of thought and strong communication skills when assessing a candidate. While everyone expects some nerves, it is essential that you take the time to make sure you’ve understood the question (remember active listening!) and effectively communicate under pressure. Some experts recommend using the STAR method (Situation, Task, Activity, Result) as a nice structure to keep in mind when framing responses.


Displaying Negativity or Rigidity

In our fast changing disruptive world, a positive attitude and resilience are essential for survival in the work place. Make sure you take your most inspiring self to the interview!



While confidence and ambition are very important, there is a fine line between assuring an interviewer of your competence or determination and taking things a step too far. Focusing too much on advancement/promotion, displaying arrogance, talking down or assuming the job is already yours are some of the things that are best avoided!


Upfront Salary Negotiation

According to a recent survey, employers said that 19% of the mistakes made by graduates at interviews was a fixation on the compensation. I have seen this repeatedly at interviews where candidates enter into various negotiations on their potential salary. Let the interview be about displaying your skills and suitability for the role. The only focus a candidate should have is that of getting the job. Once the interviewer is impressed, the offer is in hand, then as required, the Placement Officer can do the ugly job of a hard negotiation on your final compensation!


And lastly,


Forgetting about THEM

You were so WIIFM (What’s In It For Me) that you forgot to make the Company feel special! Interviewers want to know that a candidate has carefully thought about the job role, spent time researching them and has thought about how they could add value to the team/the Company.


About the author – Shubika Bilkha is the Founding Partner of Edpower-U that focuses on enhancing employability and job readiness through skill enhancement certifications, interactive multi-format industry training programs, career counselling, mentorship and coaching services. Edpower-U focuses exclusively on working with young students, job seekers, start-up entrepreneurs and early stage professionals for career enhancement.


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