10 reasons why you probably didn’t get the job

Most careers articles that you see online evangelise about how you can win the job of your dreams if you follow their golden rules that ‘guarantee’ career success. While some are actually rather good, too many shy away from delivering any harsh truths.


We all like to feel empowered to achieve our personal career goals and that’s the ultimate aim of many of those articles. Which is all very well, that is until you heeded the advice and the end result wasn’t what you were promised.


There are times when we need to be brutally honest with ourselves when those best-laid plans don’t quite achieve the desired outcome. And that’s what this article is here to do.


Looking for a new job is a job in itself, when you factor the time spent searching online, updating your CV and covering letter, and meeting with your recruiter to discuss the advertised role in more detail.


Then there is the preparation time for the interview itself, with many career experts recommending that applicants should spend at least six hours researching and planning the company before meeting the employer.


And after all that, when the interview is over, your next task is to wait to hear if you have progressed to the next stage, whether that be a further interview or an actual job offer.


But there are few things in life as demoralising as the moment you receive the dreaded “Unfortunately you have not been successful on this occasion” notification. This is soon followed by cries of Why, oh why did they not pick me?!


Once the pity-party is over, it’s time to look at the possible reasons why you weren’t the candidate of choice for that particular employer. Even if your performance was worthy of the interview equivalent of an Oscar there are sometimes factors outside your control that prevent you from getting the job.


You may agree or even disagree with the possible reasons why you didn’t get the job you applied for, but our job is to help our candidates to be realistic about their job search:


  1. We hired internally:

When applying for any new position you need to be mindful that there is a good chance that someone already working for the law firm has applied for the post, too. Hey, it happens but don’t take it personally. Let it wash over you like water off a duck’s back and think to yourself that it’s the employers loss, not yours.


  1. We recruited someone who used to work here:

Like point one, it is incredibly infuriating when the person who gets the job is a former employee. Think of it from their perspective – someone they know well and who did a great job for them previously is now back on the job market, what would you do if you were in the employer’s shoes? The difference between that person and you is they have already proven their ability to do a great job for that law firm, while you can only sell your potential to do so; the safe bet is often on the tried and tested candidate!


  1. You didn’t ‘look’ right for us:

Seriously, are employers really that shallow? Yes, some of them are. Let’s not be naïve here, unconscious and conscious bias remains a part of the hiring process and there are a number of law firms that are run by partners and hiring managers more used to hiring and appointing men or those who have a certain ‘look’ about them. Human nature dictates that we act in ways that are more familiar and comfortable to us – often without realising why we make the decisions we do. If the way you look is a more important characteristic than your ability as a legal practitioner, you are better off not working for that law firm at all so keep going with your search.


  1. Your body language suggested lack of interest:

Your personal appearance goes beyond the clothes you are wearing or the bag/suitcase you carry. It extends to every aspect of the way in which you present yourself, from how you walk, talk, facial expressions and the posture you adopt. While interviews can be a daunting prospect for some people, it is important that your level of attentiveness is equal to that of the person interviewing you. And if you face a panel of people, acknowledge everyone in the room and don’t just direct your answers to the person asking the questions – keep eye contact with everyone.


  1. You waffled, a lot:

Nerves can get then better of even the most experienced interviewee and the temptation is to yap for Britain whenever you are asked a question. But don’t! Rehearse your elevator pitch, keep your responses to no more than two-minutes each and ensure you are prepared for those questions we all know will come up at some point (take a look at our article on interview questions).


  1. We didn’t like you:

Ouch! Ultimately the legal sector is a people business and some practices have very well established teams who have evolved and learned to function is a certain way. It’s like dating – they have an idea in their minds of who they would most like to have on board and while your personal profile (i.e. your CV) may tick all the proverbial boxes, it is not until you meet face-to-face before either of you really know whether you will be a good fit or not. Don’t be disheartened by this, after all it is important for you to be comfortable with the culture you are working in. So remain positive and keep searching for the right role with the firm that is right for you.