You were called in for an interview after applying for an open position at one of your dream companies. You went in for an interview, smiled, nodded and answered all of the hiring manager’s questions to the best of your ability. But, ultimately… you didn’t receive a job offer. What happened?

Here are some possible reasons why you didn’t get the job, and things to avoid for next time:

You failed to follow-up. Following up at every step in the hiring process is critical. It shows that you have passion for the open position and are interested in working at the company. It’s also a great way to establish a relationship with the hiring manager and help them learn more about you. Did you follow-up after your interview via e-mail or phone? Did you send a thank you card? If not, it might have cost you the position.

You didn’t seem like a good cultural fit. You thought you answered the hiring manager’s behavioral interview questions well. When they asked you to tell them “about a time when…” you had a solid example of a past accomplishment or situation. But, maybe there was something about you that didn’t sit well with the hiring manager. For one reason or another, they couldn’t picture you working at their company. So, you weren’t the top candidate for the job.

You didn’t clean up your online presence. After the interview, the interviewer might’ve chosen to Google you. Perhaps they found your public Facebook profile, and perused your photos of bar nights and college parties. I’m pretty sure that didn’t impress them—and it’s likely they chose a candidate that would represent their company in a better light.

You demonstrated poor communication skills. Maybe you used a lot of filler words such as “um” and “like.” You may have stumbled on your answer a few times or struggled to come up with an answer. Whatever it was, you didn’t sell yourself as well as you could have. Practicing your interview answers on your own or with a friend can help with this.

You didn’t have a handle on why you wanted to work for this specific organization. You probably applied at dozens – or even hundreds – of job openings while job searching. This interview might have come out of the blue, or it might have been another in a string of interviews. But if you didn’t demonstrate to the employer your understanding of the organization, its strengths and weaknesses, its competitors, etc. you might be passed over for someone who does.
You spoke badly about your former boss. There’s a reason why hiring managers ask about former positions and supervisors during an interview: they want to see if you’ll dish the dirt. It’s easy to complain about your last employer during an interview, but it’s not impressive — and prospective employers will see an immediate red flag, no matter how great you seemed.

What other things should you avoid to maximize your chance of getting the job?