40 Common Reasons Recruiters May Reject You

Whether it’s true or not, perception certainly often carries more weight in how others interact with us… especially during the hiring process. Recruiters, who are often inundated with applicants and pressured by their employer (and perhaps yours) often make snap decisions based on nothing but… perception.

With that in mind, do you know how others perceive you?

Do you know what messages your words and body language send? What your style of dress and written communication say to others? How your online presence affects your perceived personal brand?

We often live inside our own heads so much, we forget that in every interaction we are being evaluated – and those evaluations mean the difference between “you’re hired” and “no, thank you.”

To help you understand how your behavior could lead to elimination as a candidate, here is a list of 40 common reasons candidates are rejected, as well as some ideas on how to avoid becoming judged harshly:

Application Turn Offs

These are the top 5 reasons recruiters rejected candidates according to a Bullhorn Reach survey

  1. Applying for jobs for which they are obviously not qualified
  2. Exaggerating qualifications
  3. Focusing on salary as the most important aspect of a job
  4. Responding to a job posting requiring far more experience than the applicant has acquired
  5. Contacting more than once per week for job status updates

Social Media Turn Offs

Here were the top reasons listed for dismissing candidates based on what they posted on social media:

  1. Candidate posted provocative/inappropriate photos/info or discussed excessive drinking or drug use.
  2. Candidate bad mouthed previous employer
  3. Candidate had poor communication skills
  4. Candidate made discriminatory comments related to race, gender, religion, etc.
  5. Candidate lied about qualifications

Interview Turn Offs

Here are many of the top turn offs during interviews from various sources:

  1. Lack of knowledge about the company
  2. Tardiness, not showing up for interview on-time
  3. Arrogant, “know-it-all” attitude
  4. Personality problems, irrational behavior
  5. Lack of professional appearance, inappropriate attire
  6. Poor eye contact, poor handshake, unfriendly body language
  7. Extreme nervousness and/or shyness
  8. Overly aggressive, manipulative behavior
  9. Poor hygiene, bad breath, gum chewing, smoking, and strong perfume
  10. Evasive, vague responses to specific questions
  11. Distracted, not listening, not paying attention
  12. Evidence of weak teamwork skills
  13. Negative comments about supervisors and coworkers
  14. Inability to communicate qualifications clearly
  15. Early discussion or questions about salary/benefits
  16. Shallow, inappropriate questions
  17. Lack of energy, enthusiasm, and direction
  18. Unrealistic goals, career, and job expectations
  19. Racist, prejudiced, sexist remarks
  20. Didn’t show interest in the job

Unspoken Truths

The reality is, you may never hear what the true reason for your rejection. From CAREEREALSIM, here are 10 Things a Recruiter Won’t Tell You:

  1. Your interview attire is outdated/messy/too tight/too revealing/too flashy.
  2. Your physical appearance is disheveled/outdated/sloppy/smelly/overpowering (i.e. too much perfume).
  3. Your eye contact is weak/shifty/intense.
  4. Your handshake is limp/too forceful/clammy.
  5. You say ah/um/like too much.
  6. You talk too much/use poor grammar/say inappropriate things (i.e. swearing) when you answer interview questions.
  7. You appear overconfident/pushy/self-centered/insecure/aloof/ditzy/scatter-brained/desperate.
  8. You talk too fast/too slow/too loud/too soft.
  9. You giggle/fidget/act awkward/have facial tics/lack expression.
  10. You lack sincerity/self-confidence/clarity/conviction.

The Fix?

The answer lies in getting feedback from multiple, trusted resources. In order to get the best feedback, show the job posting, your cover letter and resume (or answers to your application questions). For interview feedback, add a mock interview. As you will learn, you won’t often get, nor should you expect, genuine feedback from the actual recruiter.

Ask past co-workers, managers and customers for their feedback! And you can’t just ask, “what did you think of my work?” You will need to ask questions to elicit both measurable answers as a well as answers that are less quantifiable.

  • What are my strengths?
  • What are my fatal flaws?
  • Which of my strengths were/are most important to the company?
  • Which of my strengths were/are important to you?

This kind of informal 360° feedback is exactly what you’ll need to really hear what you really need to hear… and get past the most common forms of recruiter rejection!

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