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Reasons Qualified Candidates Get Rejected
Reasons Qualified Candidates Get Rejected

Why you should ask candidates more questions

Jazmyne Behnke avatar
Written by Jazmyne Behnke
Updated over a week ago

At IdealTraits, we have been helping our customers make better hiring decisions regarding candidates for years. We guide them on what to look for on the resumes and during the interview. We counsel them on any red flags that would disqualify a candidate, but when is it not okay to reject a candidate?  

Below are a few reasons why you should be asking candidates more questions rather than rejecting them without all of the information. By doing this, you may avoid losing out on a great candidate.  

Does not have the “exact” job title from previous positions 

A candidate’s resume is their career story. They may not have the same title you are seeking, but they may have the skills and experience needed for the position.  


Question the candidate on how they would handle different situations and quiz them on their knowledge.

One thing to remember: titles can be deceiving. The title Sales Associate may be what you are looking for, however, if the candidate has the job title of Sales Associate from Walmart, it doesn’t necessarily mean they have the experience and/or skills to do the job.

Does not meet EVERY qualification 

If the candidate has the majority of the qualifications for the job, at the very least, give them a phone interview to get a feel for them.


Question them on their skills and experiences to ensure they meet your own needs for your office.  

Does not have a License

If a candidate meets other qualifications for the job, but they don't have the required license, this should be the beginning of a conversation with a candidate on how to move forward in the licensing process. 


A license does not ensure success in the job. It simply means they are allowed to perform certain tasks and doesn’t mean they know how or can perform those tasks. So increase your talent pool and consider non-licensed candidates when licensing is required. 

Questionable Job History 

Candidates may experience job gaps during their career due to unforeseen circumstances such as a job switch that didn’t work out, personal obligations, relocation, school, layoffs, etc.  It is up to you to dig for the answers.  


Question the candidate thoroughly on their job history and the reasons for the job gaps. You will hear many good and bad responses from candidates, however, it's best not to assume and just ask.  

Job Tenure / Short-term History

As hiring managers and owners, we have been conditioned to look out for short-term positions on the candidate's resume. Some reasons for leaving a job after a short time include layoffs, business closings, relocation, school, contract position ended, becoming the primary family caregiver, and the job was not as described. 


Yes, candidates should be questioned on any short-term positions.   

An exception to this is if a candidate has unacceptable reasons for leaving their position.  Example: They didn’t want to work so hard.

Does not have a “real job” 

Some candidates work in contract positions.  This does not mean they do not have a “real” job.  Many companies will only bring a person on if they start as a contractor before making a hiring decision. Candidates will also take on contractor positions because they fit into their schedule at the time.  


Ask additional questions that will help identify if your expectations for the position line up with the candidate's expectations including hours and the position offered. Here are a few examples.

“Are you still working as a contractor? If not, why wasn’t your contract renewed?”

“Were you ever offered full-time work?”

“Why do you feel that an in-office position is a good fit for you right now?” 

Does not stay on one career path

Some candidates want to be able to move up and advance their careers. However, they may not have the desire to stay in one position while they wait in line to be promoted. Instead, they will look for other ways to come closer to their goals.  


Question this candidate on their short and long-term goals.  Make sure they align with your company’s and be clear on how long it would take for any type of promotion.

Exception:  If the candidate feels they should have been made part of management in a short period (2 months) without the required knowledge. 

Does not want a career in their chosen field of study

Some candidates have found that their degree has nothing to do with what they want to do with their life/career. Example: Bachelor's degree in Paralegal studies while applying for positions in a different field. 


Question them on the reason for the switch. Make sure the candidate is sincere in their reasoning and not just using this opportunity as a place to wait while they continue to search for a job in their field.

Does not “look the part” 

Candidates come in all forms and backgrounds. The ability to look beyond your personal thoughts, imagination, and “expectations” will make you successful in finding that talented person. You also want to make sure you are not violating any EEOC guidelines, such as rejecting candidates based on gender.

Does not want the payment plan offered

If the candidate has rejected your job offer due to the pay structure, don’t assume they are not a good fit for your organization. Most candidates have done their homework and know what the going rate of pay is for a specific position in the area.   


Do your due diligence and make sure what you are offering is competitive in the marketplace.

Don’t assume your payment plan is in line with your competition. If everything else checks the box about the position, you may consider negotiating pay with the candidate. Oftentimes, meeting again and going over the complete salary package, including all of the benefits offered, will help to clear up any confusion and result in a different outcome. 


There are many reasons you can and should reject a candidate. However, you need to be cautious that the candidates you are rejecting are for good, solid reasons and not superficial ones. Take your time, ask more questions, and dig a little deeper. Maybe your perfect candidate is only a few questions away.

If you have any additional questions regarding this article please feel free to reach out, we are here to help.

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