By Jacob Share
“I’m doing you a favor. You’re hungry, this place is dead. No change. It’ll kill you inside.” The unbelievable reasons job seekers have been given when companies rejected them.
Recruiter Adam Karpiak kicked off a storm with this tweet:
A lot of people responded, and with some of the funniest tweets of the week.
Getting rejected always sucks, whether or not you have to deal with it hundreds of times like actors.
It wouldn’t be so bad if recruiters rejected you with helpful feedback, but the reality is recruiters often feel compelled to lie, and that’s when you actually get a response.
(Although it isn’t unheard of to get a response months later, useful as that is)
And those responses?
It’s sad, but hardly shocking, how many people endure sexism, ageism or other forms of job search discrimination, but then there’s that special category of rejection reason that is so ridiculous, so stupid, that you’re ultimately glad you won’t be hired.
Of the many rejection stories people shared with Adam, here’s the best of the worst.
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Stupidest reasons candidates were rejected for jobs
I once felt so disillusioned by the interviewers I said mid-interview, politely, I’d prefer not to be considered. They paused then went off and conferred. Then came back & offered me the job. Which I turned down. Then they said I was rude. (source)
I was told “You’re not McDonald’s material.” (source)
“This job is about writing and I suppose you would not like to do it.” It was a copywriter position. And I intentionally applied for it because I am a copywriter. (source)
I share my top 2 😂
1) “You have 7 years experience and we need someone with 5 years”
2) “You’re not IT-savvy enough” (when I listed all the software required on my resume and they didn’t ask or test me on any tools during the process) (source)
I once received a rejection email from a pissed of HR coordinator because I no-showed for the interview. I received this email during the interview. (source)
At 18, I had a phone interview for a part time admin job. It was going well. She asked where I saw myself in 5 years. I said I was planning to go to college and start a career. She rejected me on the spot because they didn’t want someone who would “leave after a year.” (source)
I didn’t acknowledge one of their staff members who walked passed the lobby where I was waiting 😂 Laughable bc I did make eye contact and smiled politely. 🔮 Told the recruiter that. oh well, their loss. (source)
I once printed a resume on some special, nicer, thicker paper and hand delivered it. Was told to reprint on regular paper because the manager thought it would make my resume stand out too much from the others. I did not reprint. (source)
Feedback after a job interview: “although you had the required skills and experience, we didn’t feel your body language conveyed enough enthusiasm.” 🥳🤡🙃 (source)
I was told that I looked like I cared too much…… like okay, should I be negging my interviewer? (source)
the younger person interviewing me said that since I was older and had more experience,and this person younger, that I would have more ability to take positions away from her. I applied for a part time job as a teaching assistant for 1/2 a year (source)
For a creative job revolving around content creation they let the aptitude test decide it. You know the one with all the fractions and math problems… Never understood that (vs. having us creating sample pieces of creative). (source)
I was rejected for a job once upon a time as I “may suffer unrequited pangs of mother love” and leave work to be with my children … (source)
It was a call center and I’d already been working there, in the position they were hiring for, for 6 months as a temp. (source)
“We don’t see you staying more than a year. You’re overqualified.”
Never mind I’ve been unemployed for over a year. (source)
Asked me about the most challenging HR situation I’ve ever had to support. I guess my example from start to solution scared them (gun violence was involved) and it was for a Director/VP level position. Oh well…. (source)
After interviewing for a position I didn’t apply to I was told my experience was great, exactly what they needed on the team, but bc my previous title wasn’t actually HR Business Partner they were going to have to go with another candidate. (source)
I have used Python since 2000, and I once lost a very good (local!) job lead… …because I accidentally wrote “Django” instead of “Python Django” for my most recent job. They said “not enough Python experience” (Django is Python’s leading web framework) (source)
From a company that “embraced” remote working: “You live in NH and our HR system isn’t set up for that state.” (source)
you really like improving processes, and we have a lot of bandaid processes that go against what the company is asking for. It would probably just stress you out because you’d want to fix those processes and we were okay with keeping them. (source)
I have been told at least once that because I had an arts based (computer and communications related mind you) bachelor that I’m “too creative” to have a technician job because I wouldn’t like the work and would hate to be “logical” every day. (source)
That I would be distracting as a female in an all male environment. That’s what the recruiter told me. I can only imagine the unfiltered feedback the HM gave her. (source)
I got turned down for two FP&A roles because while I had 3x yrs experience and navigated multiple industries, I didn’t understand *their* company, got it on the third try. They weren’t that hard to understand and I used that name recognition to get something better. (source)
Apparently at one place I asked too many questions at the interview showing I didn’t want the job as much as other candidates. It was a job for a researcher. (source)
told to my face that I was older than they were looking for. Not like we have a law over here on that or anything! (source)
“I didn’t ask any questions.” I did. Then it was, “you didn’t bring examples” I did and offered to leave them. Turns out they mixed me up with some other person and were just lying. Called out the recruiter who was embarrassed. (source)
I had blue accents on my resume. I was told I should have “read my audience” and that adding color to a resume was unprofessional. Oh, and they told me this in the MIDDLE of an in-person interview, while rejecting me 🤯. (source)
I was only taken to a interview because I was family, they had no intention of hiering me… It was basically a “well, family has to get a interview at least” situation. I was so insulted I decided right then and there I wont ever be related to the snobbish family again. (source)
After 5 rounds of interviews they passed because I didn’t have Manufacturing industry experience. At some point everyone in that room had no Manufacturing experience too. I think they forgot #transferableskills (source)
That I was too unlike the person in the role before me. I said of course I am- we’re two different people! (source)
No joke… I removed my collar stays and my shoes weren’t freshly shined. (source)
Told me I was not experienced enough bc my 1 year 11 months at my previous job only counted as “one year of experience” instead of basically two 🧐 (source)
There was a job I interviewed for once and was really excited about and was told I was “too smart” for the job. 😑 (source)
They thought I got my previous positions via nepotism, even though there was clearly no relation
“You worked at a University…so you must have known somebody there.”
“You didn’t know ANYBODY at the Uni”
“Not the people who hired me”
“But you did know somebody” (source)
Told “you’re fabulous, excellent qualifications, wonderful energy & enthusiasm for role, but we’re concerned about your lack of employment stability.” Imagine seeking a stable job but being rejected bcz you don’t already have that & keep ending up in unstable gigs or none (source)
I didnt wear stockings under my skirt on a 100 degree day in Philadelphia. (source)
I applied to @Zappos . Made it to a final round and failed to be hired because I didn’t know comic book characters and wouldn’t fit in with the culture. (source)
I wasn’t seasoned enough… then they promoted someone who had just started! (source)
I found a horrible bug in their coding test and they refused to accept the truth. (source)
Applied for a job in a research lab. Was rejected without interview as not meeting the educational qualifications. I had a Phd in the exact subject. (source)
My hair was too red. This was at a Target. (source)
Got rejected. Told they thought I might leave for something better.
It was The Chicago Federal Reserve (source)
Was rejected after an awkward interview. I later found out the hiring policy was you had to be someone the manager wanted to sleep with or get drugs from. I evidently didn’t fit either category. (source)
When a old colleague at work told me she doesn’t put her last name on her CV because any job she’s applied for with it has rejected her.
When she took it out she was getting interviews and offered job left right and centre. (source)
A police department who will remain unnamed said that I was ‘too nice.’ Best job rejection ever. (source)
I made time to go to an interview the day I was going on holiday. I was rejected for ‘lacking commitment’. (source)
“This job is too easy for you.”
Uh, I like it though. Just pay me. I don’t care. (source)
Rejection email said no offer because I couldn’t answer questions about company KPI data and company procedures. Recommended that I work with my supervisor on a learning plan and reinterview in future.
Hiring manager apparently didn’t understand I was an external candidate. (source)
The guy who interviewed me said he wouldn’t hire me because I’d be given his job inside 6 months! (source)
Interviewed for a sales role when I was still in B2B sales. I was told that I didnt want to cold call and thats why they were rejecting me….which never came up in conversation, ever. I told them I think they had me confused with someone else, they said no. (source)
I was told that “It’s a dirty job and you don’t look like you would do well in a dirty job.” I was applying for a helicopter mechanic spot 1st line on my resume was 10 years experience as a military helicopter mechanic. (source)
I applied to Menards as a first job and filled in their questionnaire. Never got an interview. When I asked why, they told me I had answered I didn’t know any one that used drugs and obviously was lying. 😳 (source)
Ooh! I’ve got a good one, apparently I sounded “too prepared” when answering their questions. Like I had “rehearsed” the answers. (source)
Way back in the 70s, first job out of college (I’m old yes) I was told a male applicant needed a job more than I did to support his family so they didn’t hire me. (source)
Not me, but a friend was rejected from a job he fit perfect, because he did not ask for enough money. They said that means he really doesn’t know his stuff. #WTF (source)
For a creative leadership position, was told that I am too ambitious and creative, and therefore would end up being “bored” in the role. (source)
At the end of an application process, there was a yes/no question: „have you ever managed a team of <awfully specific job title of that company>?“. Since I have never seen this position denomination elsewhere, I had to say „no“. I was sorted out automatically 😅 (source)
I apparently failed to mention that I had said something “in a calm voice” while demonstrating problem-solving. (source)
Because I didn’t get a promotion previously, apparently that made me a pushover 🤷♀️ (source)
They figured on a last step that they gave me recruitment scenario for a manager. I applied as a search engine marketing specialist (lowest position). They rejected me with that reason (too bad for a manager). When I replied they offered me to go again from point 1. (source)
My hair was too long. Of course, I was transitioning at the time (not that they knew) so I took it as a very good hint that this place would not be supportive. (source)
In 1980 I was rejected for a job as bank teller because I wore dress pants to the interview instead of a skirt or dress. (source)
I seemed “too people-focused” (for an HR role). And apparently me trying to brush my bangs out of my face was just icing on the no-go cake (source)
I was rejected because they didn’t want to recruit for the position in 2yrs if I had to move when my husband would be up to be stationed elsewhere (Navy)…. 🤨(source)
To technical, to experienced and hair cut was not customer friendly enough for an internal data center engineer (source)
Shoes. The interviewer didn’t like my shoes. (source)
My friend/referral inside the company told me that the HR said I was “too geeky to fit in the team”. I was already customer facing all my then-4-years career. Although certain events later led me to think the real reason probably was issues between the HR and that said referral. (source)
I was told that I’d never had to “apply” for a job as I’d been referred to my previous roles. Seems fair, who would want a recruiter that is recommended by peers….. (source)
I didn’t wear high heels (can’t due to bunions)
Neither of the men who interviewed me wore them, so I was super confused by that. (source)
Because they didn’t think a woman could be a mechanic even though I had an automotive degree to prove I could. The service manager patted me on the head like I was 5. (source)
I’ve been rejected by a massive #HR organization for challenging a lack of diversity within their org, and rejected by a blue-chip for not “disrupting within their comfort zone”. I wear both as badges of honour. (source)
I got two stupid reason..1. I scored 100% in their technical paper…2. I know too much (technical knowledge) for the profile (source)
I asked the person interviewing me, if this was the first time he had ever interviewed anyone. He asked why. I said because he seemed all over the place. Lol 😂 I have learned to keep my mouth shut, ever since then. (source)
Was once told “I didn’t handle change well” because I answered a question saying how teaching people about a thing can make them more comfortable with that thing.
They closed one of their offices one month later so I don’t think that was the real reason. 😂 (source)
No degree. While tenured at MSFT already for 7-8 years. For an internal gig. I couldn’t even get an informational for it. I was floored. (source)
at interview, told I was “unqualified for the role” within 30 seconds. I was like, why did you call me in…?
oh wait, here’s why: then he asked me to give him confidential info about a previous employer & come up with a business model for his next company. 🙂 🙂 🙂 (source)
When my answer to their question ‘what would you do if an elephant knocked at your front door’ wasn’t the right one. (source)
I got told I should have researched the company more because I asked which branch the job was with, since they didn’t have an office in the city they wanted me to move to. (source)
I looked too young – I shaved my beard off for the interview at the recommendation of somebody who already worked there – I made the decision then to never change my appearance for a job again. (source)
I wore a headband to an interview. (source)
Not “rejected” bc I hadn’t even applied yet…
But at a career fair in my university, I was told I couldn’t apply because they were looking to hire someone more senior. Like, why do you even show up at an undergraduate career fair then 🙄 (source)
“i can tell you’re smarter than me and i don’t hire people who are smarter than me.” (source)
I removed myself from an interview once. Nailed the interview, then the final interviewer comes in, the one who runs team. Happened to be someone I called an idiot to my old flight commander years prior. He walked in and smiled at me. I just stood up, thanked everyone and left (source)
I applied for a management position and was told the other person got the job because she was an Air Force vet. I had to ask if he had seen my resume where it said Army vet. (source)
My dad and I have the same first name. Shortly after leaving school we were both looking for work. I traveled about 50 miles to a job interview in the middle of nowhere only for the interviewer to start off with this question “So…you’re a 40 yo welder from Laois??” (source)
I wasn’t interviewed for a mgr promotion because they wanted someone with “more acctg experience.” I came to that role from acctg and HR managing payroll for 6 offices in 5 states.
Person they hired was a disaster, tanked the employee satisfaction survey, and I was promoted. 😉 (source)
After 8 between tests and interviews with high results in biz dev, I got rejected because of “my lack of experience in product management” that was the first thing I said to the HR during the first screening interview. (source)
Overdressed for the interview. Wore jeans, white T, and funky blazer. Interviewer was in stained sweats. She chastised me “I told you we were business casual.” Ummm (source)
“Rejected, they’re funnier than me”
“But that’s not a valid reason, they’re perfect for the jo-”
“I will NOT give up my opening jokes in the weekly catchup to some pretender Susan.” (source)
“You wouldn’t like this job.” – for an internal position I really wanted. I jumped through a lot of hoops and went through multiple rounds only for my manager to stop the process on me. The real reason of course was “I need to you to stay where you are instead of moving on” (source)
I laughed at the VP when he said the expectation was 120 cold calls per day. (source)
Was told they already had a few really smart women on the team. (source)
My portfolio “wasn’t worth $40k” salary 😐 (source)
Not sure of exact words, but the careers adviser who had the interviewer feedback looked uncomfortable & eventually said “He didn’t like you”. I didn’t like him either – used the company information event to letch at young women. I may have alluded to this in the interview. (source)
k so i applied for a job last week and yesterday they told me i was rejected BUT after 55 mins they sent me another mail telling me they “accepted” my application and i have to do a video interview AAAAAAAA (source)
I was turned down because my jacket was too “green” (as reported back to the recruiter) (source)
“You came to the interview in a triceratops costume and said that you were told to ‘dress for the job you want’ and then yelled ‘RAWR’ at the CIO and headbutted his coffee out of his hands” (source)
Once they told me..
You seem to like and have a talent to this kind
I believe you are going to stay here for few years learn the job very well and then do it by yourself..
So it’s better for me and my company to not choose you for this position..! (No comments…) (source)
I was refused for pointing out wrong application of the employment law within their establishment. (source)
had to take DiSC assessment (knowing of course it’s not intended as hiring screening tool). Rejected due to having same combo type as someone already on their team. (source)
There was one guy, waaay back when I started, I interviewed for a cushy job as an admin for a small company in ATL. He rejected me after meeting with me.
“I’m doing you a favor. You’re hungry, this place is dead. No change. It’ll kill you inside.” To him I say, Thank you! (source)
Just got an email from a job that I applied for thanking me for attending the interview but that I’d been rejected after ‘careful consideration’…
…even though I didn’t go to the interview (already offered a job) and told them such (source)
Interviewer: “We are concerned that you are coming from a large company. Will you be happy at a small company”
Me: “That’s precisely WHY I want to leave”
2 weeks later
Interviewer: “we decided to go with a less qualified candidate because they will stay with us longer.” (source)
Was asked about the algorithm behind Uber. I answered using what I had read in an article (not an algorithm) & what I would be doing if I was in charge. Reason for rejection: “we needed someone who didn’t have prior knowledge of Uber algorithm” (source)
For having over 5 years of experience in the field at the #1 company working on our top projects- but not having a 4 year degree (and there isn’t even a 4 year degree for that field- only entry level certifications.) (source)
Once I was told I had excellent qualifications and experience for the Manager role I’d applied to, but had two things working against me: 1) I was a woman, and 2) I was “quite young.” (source)
The psychological screening test indicated I was too honest. It was for a part time retail job while I was going to school. (source)
My wife once applied for a job at a supermarket over summer and she didn’t get it because she scored too highly on the aptitude tests. (source)
I interviewed for a job and on the technical aspect I was “above average”. For the teaching I “did fairly well”. Do you know why they told me I got rejected? Because I was too humble and not confident enough. Ughhhhh, wth. (source)
We liked your skills and background, but your LinkedIn photo had you in a bar. We thought that was inappropriate” (source)
I did too well on the math test. Nobody had every done it in under a minute. 30 questions, 100% correct.
The job was financial analyst. Never heard from them again. (source)
Area manager jumped in my interview: “You look young, how old are you?”
I didn’t tell them, they pushed
“How would you deal with unruly staff being so young?”
I answered, but ended the interview soon, and told them ‘after speaking with the area manager I’m no longer interested’ (source)
I applied for a job where they only asked for the specific experience I have on video games, and I have been rejected because they told me I needed that experience. Which I have. As it says on my CV. (source)
Phone interview with their satellite office, guy told me I didn’t answer his questions with enough details. Recruiter from HQ called me a week later for a phone interview, then brought me in for more and eventually got hired. 🤷♂️ (source)
Someone I knew was rejected because he was non-vegetarian and the owner was a vegetarian (religious belief) and also didn’t allow anyone to have non-veg in office premises. (source)
The same company told me on two different occasions, for the same job that was posted a year apart, that I was too technical and non-technical enough. (source)
Was told by a small regional P&C carrier I didn’t have enough/any P&C exp— then 2 weeks later hired by one largest P& C carriers . (source)
“You are not senior enough” 6 months later I had these responsibilities and many more in another company. It’s a waste of energy to try change people mind, most stay stuck on their first impression. Eventually someone will realize the asset you are. (source)
Actually I was rejected for one job because I was white and they specifically told me they were only accepting black applicants. I have also had bosses tell me they could not promote me because of quotas, I have also had HR tell me I could not hire whites because of quotas. (source)
I went to a job for a basic auto tech position and was told I would be “a distraction”. This was at a VW dealership. I’m ASE certified. (source)
Happened yrs.ago yet the stupidity still stings. During 3rd round of interviews for my dream job + facility’s tour + staff intros, HM asked if I had kids. Once I said yes she went off about how working 25mi away from them was not a good idea. Later ghosted me. Left me 💔 (source)
Got turned down for a software dev job because I said my long term goal was to go into teaching. They said it didn’t align with the values they were looking for. (source)
Was told I was racist, inquired deeper and apparently it was because I mentioned being excited to no longer work for an Italian based company (source)
I was told that I didn’t “articulate” that I understood strategy – I displayed it, did it as my role, and “obviously” understood it. I just didn’t state (to their liking) that I understood it… glad it didn’t get the job – all that articulation would have made me bonkers. (source)
That I “wouldn’t understand the products sold by the company” I think this was based of my accent since this was a company that sold Navigation Software to armed forces internationally and I was a recently discharged Army trained Geo Tech with a foundation degree. (source)
Tech knowledge was good, passed the tests, even their stupid Superman vs Goku question, but HR told me they didn’t understand why I wanted to work with them. -_- (source)
“We didn’t even look at your CV because the rules say we have to hire internally first.” a) Why even advertise publicly? b) I *literally* worked on the team you *explicitly* said you wanted to emulate the work of. (source)
I got rejected from art technician job at local college. In an unusual fit of proactiveness I asked em to keep my details if anything else came up. From then on I got sent rejection letter for EVERY job they advertised from head of maths to caretaker. #ShareYourRejections (source)
My old Express manager told me she was interviewing a Deaf person for a stock position. His app. was auto-rejected because he checked “no” to can “use a telephone” while at the register. The algorithm for suggesting applicants decided that it made him unqualified for the job. (source)
i was told my “experience is impressive” when applied for cleaning position at an animal rescue kennel but was rejected and 5minutes after a rejection email the job was posted again and idk why they rejected me if my 8years of cleaning is so impressive and that’s all the job is (source)
Interviewed for my own job, was on a roll-on temporary contract with them for months. They gave me many reasons I didn’t get my job (continued working there for months until they found the “right” candidate) one reason was that I was leaning back in the interview.🧐 (source)
interview. After the interview the partnering university *didn’t want to hire me because I was TOO GOOD and would clearly leave the position within 6 months* the supervising manager ignored them and hired me. 5 years and 3 university Deans later… im still here. HA (source)
Question of the article
What’s your worst job rejection story? Tell us in the comments.
What others are saying
- These are the most ridiculous reasons you didn’t get the job
- Dumb Reasons Candidates Are Turned Down
Bonus: Why you should NEVER ask for a rejection reason
ABOUT JEFF ALTMAN, THE BIG GAME HUNTER
Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter is a career and leadership coach who worked as a recruiter for more than 40 years. He is the host of “No BS Job Search Advice Radio,” the #1 podcast in iTunes for job search with more than 2000 episodes. He also hosts Job Search TV
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