Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Ten Absurd Reasons Why Candidates Got Rejected For Jobs

Last week I wrote about why perfect candidates don’t exist.  I thought it might be fun to list some of the ridiculous reasons why really good candidates, who met the client’s job specs, have been rejected.    It should make everyone laugh or, at the least, smile.

These are not people who have been rejected for screwing up an interview or needing a visa or some other possibly justifiable real reason.  These are candidates rejected after a final interview when they should have been hired.  

1)  A candidate had moist cat food experience, but not dry
It is true, I swear.  They loved the candidate but were looking for “perfect” so they continued to look.  Six weeks later they wanted to hire the candidate but he had already taken a new job.  It was one of the big agencies and went out of business.  Hmmm.....

2)  A candidate too long a commute - one hour
It was a new business person and the agency was afraid that his commute would take away from his need to be in the office (like it doesn’t take an hour for some city dwellers to get to work).  Today he is one of the most successful new business people in the country and still lives an hour from the city.

3)  A candidate was too upbeat and perky
I guess smiling and being nice was too much for this agency.  They felt her personality would intimidate their client. At least that is what they told me

4)  A candidate was too pretty
Yes, she was gorgeous, but she was a great account manager and had the right personality for the agency.  The head of account management actually told me that if he hired her and had to travel with her, his wife would be jealous and give him a hard time.

5)  A candidate had dated the head of account management ten years earlier
I guess this is a legitimate reason to reject a qualified candidate.  The prior relationship didn’t bother the candidate, but she was rejected.  Perhaps she had pictures.

6)  A candidate who had worked at an agency that the agency CEO did not like
This has actually happened many times.  Huh?  I guess a good candidate got painted with the wrong brush.

7)  A candidate who had to meet the client and the client then decided that she was too senior for the account.
This is the danger of having clients meet candidates.  It is also the danger in clients paying fees – it puts them in charge of their own business. The agency swears it never let a candidate meet a client again. 

8)  A very senior candidate had dinner with the CEO and his wife.  The Wife dinged him.
It turns out that thirty years prior, when the candidate was eight years old, he knew the CEO’s wife. It was not discovered until mid-way through the dinner.  I was never told the reason for the rejection.

9)  A candidate who had mostly imported car experience and was rejected from a domestic car account.
Today he is the president of an agency which primarily handles a big domestic car brand and he runs the business.

10)  A candidate who was rejected because he was “too New York” for their Midwestern client.
The candidate actually grew up in the Midwest.  This is the truth: Today he is president of an agency that has that same account with the same Midwestern client – which he pitched and won.  That is great poetic justice.


  1. WEll done Paul--so true!

  2. Thanks, Bret. I have many others - sadly!

  3. And then there was the male candidate who was rejected because he wasn't tall enough...

  4. @anonymous: I would love to hear the whole story, which you could always email to me.

  5. I was recently told that this agency actively looking for a top-shelf new biz executive wouldn't hire me because I was "too aggressive". Go figure that one! LOL, Bill Crandall

  6. All this sounds accurate. Isn't that sad...


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