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5 Reasons Why You’re Perfect On Paper But Didn’t Get The Job!

Author: Spencer Noonan

Published date: 2018/05

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Job hunting can be frustrating. You see a job on Seek or LinkedIn that looks perfect for you, and you seem to tick all the boxes in terms of skills and experience. You prepare and send off an application. The next thing you know, you get an interview! But then…you don’t progress any further. You’ve missed out on that great job, and you have no idea why. What happened? You were perfect for that role!

How often has this happened to you?

It’s more common that you think, and your success when it comes to nabbing that next role is reliant on a few factors that go beyond your CV. Here are 5 reasons why you may not have been successful for that role even though you’re perfect on paper, and what you could do differently next time round.

You didn’t look the part

Depending on the industry, the attire you wear will differ. But at the end of the day, sloppy is sloppy. In an interview you will generally have 30 or so minutes to make a positive impression, so turning up to an interview looking like you don’t care will not impress your interviewer.

What you should do:

Have an understanding of the dress code for the company you are applying to work at, and make an effort to dress the part. Ensure your clothes are wrinkle and stain free, your hair is neat, nails clean, and shoes polished. Don’t overdo it on the accessories, make-up or perfume / cologne. Keep it simple and professional!

You just didn’t click

Both yourself and the hiring company might think you are the perfect candidate from looking at your CV, but after the interview something was just missing for them. An inability to connect and engage with your interviewer can be detrimental to your success. Personality plays a huge part in your ability to progress with a job application, so if you don’t click with your interviewer it’s unlikely you will get any further.

What you should do:

In an interview, you need to clearly communicate why someone would want to work with you, and what makes you stand out from the rest of the candidate pool. This goes beyond your skills and experience in a work setting. Try to find some common ground with your interviewer by talking about your hobbies and interests outside of work, inject a little humour into your answers (within reason!), and present yourself as confident, warm and engaging. Give them a reason to want YOU – not just your skill set – in their business.

You were being overly ambitious

Being ambitious and demonstrating a desire to progress in a company is appreciated, however there is a fine line between wanting to advance and wanting it so badly you promote yourself out a job you haven’t actually gotten yet. This shows your interviewer you don’t care enough about the job you have applied for, and it can leave them questioning your dedication and suitability.

What you should do:

It is absolutely fine to ask a single question about the opportunities for advancement, but make sure you focus your attention on proving you are the best candidate for the job currently in front of you.

You were forgettable

Most of the time, a number of candidates will be interviewed for the same position, therefore relying on your CV to get you through the process isn’t enough. Your CV has done its job, it got you to the interview. Now it’s time for you to stand out from the crowd. An interviewer wants to find someone who will go beyond just fulfilling a list of tasks, and find someone who will make an impact.

What you should do:

In a competitive job market, you need to find a way that makes you stand out. A lot of other candidates will be ‘perfect on paper’ as well, so you need to find a way to prove yourself more than worthy of the job. In addition to letting your personality shine and connecting on a personal level with your interviewer, prepare to talk about your career highlights and successes, and times where you have gone above and beyond in previous roles. Talk about projects you have implemented or taken on outside of scope, and how it positively impacted the organisations you worked for. This will show that you are proactive and team-oriented, and will go a long way to helping you stand out.

You didn’t show you were interested in the company

As I wrote in a previous blog, at some point in an interview you will be asked if you have any questions. Asking inappropriate or unprepared questions will not reflect well on you and your investment in the company. Future employers want you to demonstrate you have done your homework on the position and the broader company.

What you should do:

Spend some time preparing questions for the interview that contribute substance to the conversation. Research the company by reading articles and blog posts, and ask specific, industry-related questions that are topical. This will show you are interested in the current challenges and opportunities facing the industry, and also that you are interested in participating in a conversation about how that particular company is contributing to them. It demonstrates you are thoughtful and intelligent. Try and avoid just asking run-of-the-mill administrative questions that will not contribute to your image.

In the end, it all comes down to you! It comes down to you investing your time into landing the role you know you deserve. Do the hard yards, the extra one percent-ers that will help you to stand out from the crowd and ultimately be successful. Remember this mantra: “In a world full of game players, the only way to set yourself apart is to be a game changer.”


Spencer Noonan is an Architecture Consultant at Fetch Recruitment. With a strong focus on candidate care, Spencer’s primary goal is to carefully match talented candidates with companies where there is a clear cultural fit. You can connect with Spencer on LinkedIn here.