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5 Ways to Lose a Job Offer After Nailing the Interview

Woman sits at her desk with her hands on her head

Imagine this: You’re finishing up a job interview, and the hiring manager leans back and says, “Love that you’re a former bowling pro. It’ll be great to have another ace on the company’s team.” That’s a great sign you nailed the interview: The employer is already envisioning you on the team. Glassdoor compiled these other signs you nailed an interview, including immediate follow-up on the next steps or jumping right into talking about perks.

But just because you impressed in person doesn’t mean you can’t ruin your shot. In fact, it happens all the time. We asked our recruiters about the top ways they’ve seen job candidates lose a job after nailing the interview. These reasons are heartbreakingly avoidable, so read carefully:

No or poor follow-up. Sending an immediate thank you email or letter after an interview is still highly advised. But don’t take the task lightly. As Craig Patterson, Director of Professional Services at The HT Group, puts it, “spelling and grammatical errors in a thank you email, or letter can be the kiss of death.” The HT Group Executive Recruiter Kate Aycock agrees. They’ve both seen candidates eliminated due to mistakes in their thank you notes. Aycock has even put a process in place to help avoid disaster. “As a recruiter, I tell my candidates to send the thank you letter to me so that I can crosscheck it for errors.”

Not being prepared for the next step. Once you nail one or two interviews, it can be easy to assume subsequent interviews will be the same. Don’t make that mistake. The HT Group Senior Technical Recruiter Kalyn Blacklock has seen job candidates ace in-person interviews but then fail when it comes to assessments or exercises. “One candidate nailed it up until the final mock call exercise. He got into his head and psyched himself out,” she says.

Failing the employment verification process. This can include failing a background check or drug test. If you have a criminal history, take our advice from this previous post. And when it comes to drug testing, play it smart. Even if you live in a marijuana-friendly state like Colorado or California, any employer can have a zero-tolerance policy in place.

Poor reference checks. Even those you know can speak highly of you can be caught off-guard if you don’t give them a heads up. So please always ask. It also doesn’t hurt—when you ask—to give them a summary of the position you’re interviewing for and what strengths they may be asked to highlight. These include soft skills like leadership, kindness, reliability, and critical thinking since references are often contacted to find out more about these types of personality traits.

Getting greedy or overzealous. Forbes points out several instances in which a job offer was rescinded due to the candidate’s behavior before even starting the job. Examples include pulling the company into a bidding war, attempting to renegotiate after accepting, or publicly announcing you got the job on social media before it’s official.

Never let your guard down. While you may feel confident after the first couple of interviews, you really have no idea how you stack up against the competition. Perhaps you’re one of several “perfect” candidates, and the employer is searching for the slightest falter to tip the scales in the other direction. Take the process seriously from beginning to end, and many of these mistakes can be avoided.

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