The 5 Reasons Candidates Fail to Get Interviews

Reasons Candidates Fail to Get Interviews

There are many reasons candidates fail to get interviews. We speak with prospective clients every day who express their frustrations with the job search process. They need help with many steps of the process to gain an advantage in the marketplace. There is one specific part of the process that causes the greatest frustration for them most often. It often comes up in the form of a question. “How do I get a real live human from the company to talk to me on the phone about the job?”

Most job seekers find interesting job openings to which they apply each week. The biggest frustration they have is that they rarely ever hear anything back. The success rate hovers around 1-2% from the feedback we commonly hear. This article focuses on the 5 reasons candidates fail to get interviews.

Reason #1 Candidates fail -They apply to too many job postings.

This is a big reason candidates fail to get interviews. We share with our clients that they should apply to no more than five job postings per week. Many candidates struggle with this concept when we first share it because they live by the idea that more is better. Why wouldn’t more job applications be better?

Better Focus on Targeted Applications

First, it likely means the applications are not well targeted. Job boards have made it quick and easy for candidates to apply with the click of a button. While this sounds like a benefit, it generally leads to candidates applying without even reading the job posting thoroughly. If the job is interesting enough for you to say you want it then it should warrant at least 10-15 minutes’ worth of digging into further to ensure the effort is not wasted. There’s a good chance you might have missed something in the job description that would have been a big sign this is not the right position. If the screener can see in less than 10 seconds that you don’t hold the key credentials the job calls for as a requirement then your application is deleted right away.

Better Use of Time

Second, candidates simply don’t have the time to keep track of 10-20 job applications per week, even if they are unemployed. After just a few weeks that leads to 50+ pending applications. When you do receive a call from the employer, it will be obvious to the interviewer that you don’t even know who they are or remember applying to the job. That doesn’t make a good first impression.

Better Able to Network

Third, if you apply to too many jobs you won’t have the time to do the real work of networking and starting conversations that is required to increase the odds of getting pulled through the back door for an interview. This takes a lot of time and numerous follow-up communications to do properly.


Reason #2 Candidates fail – No one inside the company knows they exist.

When a job is advertised, or posted on a job board, the average posting will attract hundreds of applicants. Some job boards let you see how many people applied to it. The person responsible for screening the applicants won’t even look at all of them. This posting is only one part of their job. They might be managing numerous job postings or have many other functions to perform in their company. The candidates who land interviews usually get there by networking and starting conversations with people on the inside. The candidates who simply send in an application and wait for someone to contact them usually hear nothing in reply. No one even knew they applied. It’s like the old adage of, “If a tree fell in the woods and no one was around to hear it, did it make a noise?” Make some noise.


Reason #3 – Their branding is too middle of the road and forgettable.

If 500 candidates apply to the same job, we can generally assume about half meet the qualifications posted. That means 250 other applicants have similar qualifications as yours. The hiring company will only have time to do a quick phone screen interview with 10-20 at most in round one. The company will eliminate 92%-96% of the baseline qualified applicants before the first round of interviews. If your branding materials and application don’t stand out to strongly separate you from the rest of the pack in less than 10 seconds, you will likely be eliminated. If you want to be outstanding, you can’t blend in. This is one of the most challenging of reasons candidates fail to get interviews.


reason #4 – They target only the top-level decision maker or hR person.

Starting conversations with key people on the inside of a company, especially if you don’t know them, is not easy. We have to push ourselves outside of our comfort zones to do it. The high-level decision makers and human resources people are the hardest ones to get on the phone, either because they are very busy or they have been trained to keep applicants at bay during the hiring process. However, every decision maker has numerous people orbiting around him/her whom we call influencers. These influencers know them well and can get access to them readily. If you reach out to them, many will take the time to visit with you and potentially help you. It requires effort as well as overcoming our discomfort of reaching out to people we don’t know. Invest the time and embrace the discomfort.


reason for failure #5 – They give up too quickly.

Networking and starting a chain reaction inside a company to get pulled through for an interview requires multiple follow ups and a high level of perseverance. Most people can muster the determination to push out of their comfort zones once or twice for short durations. But if they don’t see immediate success, the vast majority will give up and simply say it won’t work. Quitting is a learned habit. We are all born with a high level of perseverance. Otherwise, babies would never learn to walk or talk. Over time we begin to avoid the uncomfortable and to fear any level of perceived failure. Perseverance can be relearned if you have someone working closely with you to urge you forward. Overcoming our fears can be accomplished when someone we trust is at our side helping us understand the perceived pains really aren’t so terrible. Stay with it and lean on those around you to help move forward. This is likely one of the biggest reasons candidates fail to get interviews.


There are many reasons applicants fail to land interviews. Some of those might be out of the candidate’s control. However, these five reasons are some of the most common and are all within the control of candidate to affect different outcomes. We are all human and have our own challenges with each of these. When you partner with someone who has faced these same things countless times and knows how to help you overcome them, you gain a distinct advantage in your career.

About Endeavor Agency, Inc.

Endeavor Agency is the nation’s leading career agency for executives. Endeavor helps executives, physicians, and professionals find jobs. Our team prepares clients for interviews and our clients win job offers far more often. Endeavor helps clients negotiate better offers and employment contracts.

Endeavor offers executive coaching and outplacement services. Our agents help executives find jobs leading private equity and venture capital companies.
Contact Endeavor Agency today to learn more about Job Search help.