angry that I didn’t get the job; can I protest this?

A reader writes:

Following an advertisement on the website, I applied for a job ( through an agent). I have been subjected to a telephone interview, face to face interview with the person supposedly to be reporting to. Later they sent forms for my criminal record checks, reference checks and completion of employee profile form, which I did. All this gave me an impression that everything was well. I was asked to set aside time to meet the senior in the unit. I asked for the agenda, at which I was told it’s an informal meeting as she just wanted to meet with me nothing to serious and nothing do with the interview process. My hopes and expectations went high again. Our meeting was another interview, very similar to the one I had before. I came out convinced that I got the position. She even shared with me that it takes time for their HR to complete the process, so therefore I must be patient. No problem.

Today, I got a message that I didn’t get the job. Is this a fair process? Why was I subjected to all the interviews, meetings and completing the forms? For that matter, I happen to know that there was no other candidates. Can I challenge the process? I feel they lied to me and subjected me to interviews or I didn’t meet the requirements according to her (the senior), as all the changes came after the meeting. As much as I might not be the ideal candidate, I feel so unfairly treated and I have asked for a formal meeting for feedback. Is this appropriate or I am just overreacting? Can I challenge the process? And since the position is still open, can I send my cv again or how best can I do it?

I’m sorry you didn’t the job. It can be really disappointing to put in all that time and energy and feel that things are going well, only to then find out that you didn’t get it.

But … this is the nature of job searching. You get interviewed, fill out forms, and so forth — and there’s no guarantee that it will end in a job offer. None at all. In fact, the majority of candidates who go through that process for each job don’t end up with a job offer.

Sometimes it’s because someone else was a better fit. In a case like this, if you’re right that you were the only candidate being interviewed, the reason is that you weren’t the right fit.

It’s easy to secondguess that and think that they’re wrong — and maybe they are. But more likely, you really aren’t the right fit for the role they’re trying to fill. There are all kinds of reasons this could be the case. Candidates tend to think, “They didn’t think I was good enough.” But many, many times it’s something else, not your skill set — for instance, that you wouldn’t mesh well with this particular manager or this particular team or this particular office culture. These things matter, and it’s very hard for a candidate to judge this factors from the outside the way an interviewer can judge them from the inside. The best thing you can do is accept this and move on.

I wouldn’t ask for a meeting for feedback — that’s asking a lot of them. But it’s fine to ask for feedback via email or phone. However, you minimize your chances of getting honest feedback if you appear to be challenging their decision. (Here are some tips on asking for feedback after a job rejection.) Good luck!

{ 30 comments… read them below }

  1. Anonymous*

    Honestly, after seeing the letter writer's response to not getting the position, I think the employer dodged a bullet. S/he comes across as difficult and easily offended – if that came across at all in the interview I could see it tanking what was otherwise a good candidacy.

    I occassionally get an angry candidate who insist that we made the wrong decision in not hiring them, and demands that we reconsider them and it always makes me thank my lucky stars that we chose NOT to move forward with them.

    I have also come across applicants who weren't hired after making it through most of the process who thanked us for our time and asked to be reconsidered should we post the position again, and some of those people are working with me now.

    How one handles rejection says as much about oneselves as how one handles acceptance.

    1. Pigbitin Mad*

      I have never heard of a rejected candidate ultimately getting hired. That sounds like BS. And it is a chore to go through two weeks of hoops and then never even get told you never got the job. It makes me mad as hell even though I would never confront them. My M.O. would be to say nasty things about the company (after enough time has elapsed that they would never connect the nasty reviews to me). The hiring process is extremely frustrating today and employers defintely think they can treat you like garbage today. F them! You don’t hire me in favor of some dumb kid, your loss.

    2. Lisa*

      Come on now everyone be fair to this reader I agree with her. I don’t care if this is considered normal does that make it right? She is not saying she was entitled to the job. Just entitled to a yes or no answer in a timely manner without being strung along and dragged back over and over if they were not serious about her. Sounds like a lousy place to work if they can’t show more consideration and respect for a person.

  2. Anonymous*

    While I sympathize with the poster, I have to wonder at his/her choice of words when using "have been subjected to."
    Read AAM's advice about asking for feedback and email them AFTER you've stepped back and let go of the anger.

  3. sara*

    During all my interviews, even when there seem to be tens of them, I always ask the person interviewing me, if they have any concerns about me as a candidate. I feel this is good practice because it gives you an opportunity to address their concerns, or at least learn why they might be on the fence. But even when I've been told, how perfect I am for the role-you can't get your hopes up. I've been told an offer was coming just to then find out the "boss" hired someone else behind everyone's back. You just never know. Grab the feedback while you can when you are in the interview, and really let it go afterwards. If there is anything this blog has taught me, is that sometimes it's you, sometimes it's them, but never ever get your hopes up on a job. Because you will always let yourself down, and in today's job market, you want to remain focused and clear-headed. Just chalk it up to interviewing experience and look back at what you learned.

  4. DrJohnDrozdal*

    Has this person ever been through an interview process before? Or is this just about a sense of entitlement? I am nonplussed by the writer asking TWICE if s/he "could challenge the process?" And even thinking about re-applying is quite odd? Not being the candidate selected does not equal being treated unfairly.

  5. Anonymous*

    I agree with some of the other comments… it seems that this person has a huge sense of entitlement. I've never heard ANYONE say that it was a burden that they were "subjected to" interviews. I wouldn't hire this person either and agree with Anonymous 8:39… the company dodged a bullet. I'd hate to have this person as a co-worker and would hate even more to have him/her as an employee.

  6. Anonymous*

    He atleast deserves a proper response from the organization. This is the difference which an employer can leave with the candidate because he can be a future prospect also.

    I dont think he should challenge the recruitment process but definitely write a mail to get genuine feedback.

    This should be his creteria of selecting whether this company is a good employer for future.

    Remember it is a two way process. It also shows how the organization functions and cares for their potential candidates or future employees.

  7. A Girl Named Me*


    To whom will you protest? And what result do you think you will get?

    "Hi. I'm really mad that you made me interview and I didn't get the job. I'm officially protesting your decision."

    "Oh. We're sorry. Please start the new job on Monday. Our bad."


  8. Unemployed Gal*

    Ha! A Girl Named Me gets a gold star for that one!

    Um, Mr. OP? Most employers will �subject� people they don�t eventually hire to an interview. If they could tell a perfect candidate just from the resume, interviews wouldn�t exist.

    �You are an excellent candidate Mr. OP. Our hiring process is nearly complete.�

    �Thank god, Hiring Manager! I�m so sick of these companies subjecting me to interviews and not hiring me. How dare they lie to me like that!�

    �Uhh… We�ll call you…�

  9. Anonymous*

    I agree with DrJohnDrozdal; I get the feeling that this person hasn't had much experience with a job search or hiring processes. Even possibly someone who appealed a B- in university because he or she "worked so hard and never missed a class".

    It's nice to be confident, but it's important to be realistic. And the reality is, you're not the only one going through the hiring process. Instead of getting your panties in a bunch over not being the one ultimately chosen, you should take comfort in the fact that you presented well enough to make it as far as you did, and you should accept that there was somebody else who was better for the position than you were. If you seriously prefer no interview at all to an interview without a hire, you've got your priorities out of whack!

    Not to mention, by being a prima donna about your rejection you're effectively shooting yourself in the foot for any future openings at that company. If you're demanding a "formal meeting" over something like this, you're going to give the impression of being someone who is an absolute nightmare to actually work with.

  10. Anonymous*

    Also consider that in this trying economic time, it's possible the budget for the position you were interviewing for simply got cut. It's hard being out of work, but try to remain positive and don't make assumptions.

  11. Anonymous*

    I have read the OP and then these comments. I see both sides.

    I read frustration in the OP's response and perhaps this isn't the first rejection either. It could be one of several and finally the OP doesn't know how to deal with it anymore. It's very hard out there; I know because I too am very frustrated with not being able to get a job in the field of my degrees. I feel the OP's pain, if you will. It's more heartbreaking when you go through the entire process and then get told no. It's happened to me twice. You think the interviews went well; you receive positive feedback when you are in the interviews and everyone seems to get along great. They say they'll call you in another day or two. Instead, in the mail you get the rejection letter. Obviously something went wrong, and you don't know what. You can't read their thoughts through generic rejection letters which leaves you thinking that something is wrong and no one is going to tell you. Eventually one company is going to hold more blame because it's the umpteenth time you have been told no.

    I usually get upset, but then get over it. I usually think to myself "for every one door that closes, two more open."

    Maybe this company dodged the bullet or maybe the person is writing out of frustration to AAM so that he doesn't write it to the company instead. AAM, in this case, became a sounding board. But I'm not refuting any of the above about this is not the employee you want for it could very well be the case.

    This sense of entitlement some speak of…it's put into your brain when you are in college. If you get a degree, you'll get a job.

    1. Anonymous*

      I can relate. I have a degree and grew up being told get yourself an education and you will get a great job”, “you can be anything you want to be.” That is BS in Las Vegas in this pathetic economy. I have a 4.0 with a Masters degree and I cant even get a job at freakin Home Depot where I used to work for 4 years in College and I voluntarily left on good terms to pursue my degree full-time and because I had just gotten married and was pregnant. My advice to anyone having as much hard of a time finding a job as I have, if you have the degree, the skills, and good references why not conider relocating somewhere else where the unemployment rates are significantly lower and the economy is better? Of course, that is if you are able to do so realistically. There are sooo many people leaving Las Vegas because not only are the jobs scarse and its more “who you know,” to be able to get a job, the education budget is constantly being cut and our education here is ranked 49th, it is one of the worst. Don’t put yourself down or blame anyone else about this, besides the RECESSION and the factors that led up to it, but concentrate on ways you CAN get that job you want.

  12. Jane*

    Sometimes the letter sounds like the person thinks the company knew there was no hope from the get-go and wasted the applicant's time, and sometimes it sounds like the person thinks everything went great and only the quixotic whims of the senior interviewer kept them from getting the job. For instance, I'm not entirely clear what the OP means with "all the changes came after the meeting"–the only thing that seemed to happen after the meeting was rejection of the application, from what I can tell, which isn't a "change" because the applicant hadn't been offered anything before that. So I guess I'm agreeing that the applicant doesn't seem all that familiar with the process.

    But OP, what's being described is a fairly usual hire process. No amount of interviews and no absence of competing candidates provide a guarantee that you've got the job, and people generally don't reject you or talk your chances down on the spot. There's nothing especially intimate about "it takes time for HR to process"–it's a boilerplate comment–and it's incorrect to read that as "it will take time before HR processes your appointment and we can notify you that you're hired." Overall, it's sounding like you made an assumption that a continuation of the interview process is a tacit indication of your hire, and it's not. It just means they need more information to make their decision.

  13. Interviewer*

    To address some of your questions directly:

    "Is this a fair process?" Yes, candidate rejections happen every day on the basis of several interviews with multiple people and conducting background and reference checks. You may have unknowingly failed at one or more of these stages.

    "I happen to know there was (sic) no other candidates." How did you know that? Did your agent tell you that he didn't send anyone else? What about other agents? Were there any internal candidates vying for a promotion? Did the company do their own recruiting for candidates?

    "Can I challenge the process?" Is this a government or union job? Do you have a disability that they said they couldn't accommodate? Are you a member of a protected class and feel subject to discrimination on that basis? If not, no, you cannot challenge the process. You will only serve to confirm the decision the company has already made.

    "I feel they lied to me" about what? Did anyone tell you at the interviews that the job was yours? Did anyone give you an offer and a start date? I take each and every candidate through multiple phone screens and in-person interviews. I collect references and ask them to complete background check forms. And then I proceed to reject every candidate except one. Going through multiple hoops does not guarantee an offer to anyone.

    "I didn't meet the requirements according to her, as all the changes came after the meeting." This happens. Sometimes you get to a point in the recruiting process where you've found the perfect candidate, and your hiring manager comes back with a new plan. They want to hire someone with a totally different skillset, because they've asked an existing employee to take on the tasks that they initially planned for the new hire to do. Or the budget disappears and suddenly they can't hire anyone new. Change happens, and as a candidate, there is absolutely nothing you can do about it.

    "I feel so unfairly treated" You have not clearly stated why you were treated unfairly. You have outlined a process that most recruiters and hiring managers use to find the ideal candidate.

    "Can I send my cv again" I wouldn't do it. Something about the job or the department has changed, and you are not the best candidate for the job as it stands now. They've interviewed you and have gotten some sense of why it won't work out – hence, the rejection. If you have expressed any of your current frustration with the agent or the company, chances are that you will not get true feedback. Your best option is to move on.

  14. Anonymous*

    OP's frustration comes across so clearly, regardless whether it comes from too little experience or too much! I've also been in the situation where I totally expected the next contact to be the job offer…and it wasn't. More than once. It's OK to be angry. It's essential that you don't take it personally. It's imperative that you get over it and move on.

    Here's an example from the other side. At a company I once worked for, there were the usual interviews for a position, a candidate was selected, the offer discussed and the candidate was told to sit tight and the formal offer letter would be sent out soon. Almost immediately after that, word came down from "on high" that a company-wide hiring freeze was mandated, effective immediately. It was a lose-lose for the candidate and the division I worked for.

    Job requisitions get pulled/canceled these days with alarming frequency. That is totally beyond our control, and all we can do is accept it and move on.

  15. Anonymous*

    I'd also advise the poster to be careful about protesting the decision too much. Who knows, the selected candidate might not work out and you could be No. 2!

    That's happened at my company a few times, where we find ourselves combing through the resumes of the people we've interviewed a few months before to fill the position again.

    I understand the poster's frustration, but it's smart to be very very gracious in this situation.

  16. Brian*

    Careful about being so quick to jump down the OP's throat, folks – I have a feeling some of the unusual verbiage might be because English is not their native language… Not trying to make excuses for him or her, just saying don't read too much into the exact words. Besides all that, the generalized advice is spot-on.

  17. Rebecca*

    Anon@4:45 is right — this has actually happened to my brother twice. Both times, he'd got to the "final round" and was then rejected.

    In one case, the guy they picked "wasn't working out" after two weeks; in the other, the guy they picked got a better offer from somewhere else and quit after four days.

  18. Anonymous*

    I think the employer got lucky on this one. I'm absolutely bewildered by these 3 things in a candidate: The sense of entitlement, challenging their decision and is it fair.

    Life is NOT fair. Not everyone will make the team or the cut. Your parents did you a huge disservice by not explaining this process. Employers look for the best and brightest & you were likely a contender but someone else brought a little bit more to the table.

    jmho Learn to let things go, prepare to be the best at anything you do and talk honestly about your own accomplishments.

    For heaven's sake get a thicker skin as not every opportunity is the ONE. Just because this gig didn't work out doesn't mean the next 5 won't. Hang tight believing they missed out by passing you over.

  19. Anonymous*

    Situation is understandable. Frustration level is ok for venting but not to follow through too much. Advise is spot on.

    However, there are some other situations to consider. It deals with type of company and if that position is going through the parent company or its subcontractor. Have been in this situation from hiring standpoint and the insider steering… It is, of course, done by legal means; it would not be ethical. All an average person can do is "move on" with a good lesson learned.

  20. Anon*

    I sympathize with the poster. I recently had a total of FOUR interviews (three over the phone and one face-to-face) with a company, and had begun filling out paperwork. No one from the company had contacted me, so I called and sent a follow up email. I finally received an email (don’t get me started on email rejections…) that said I wouldn’t be offered a position.

    Once again, I called AND emailed, hoping to at least get a little feedback, and I never heard anything.

    The next day, I saw the position re-posted on Career Builder, where I had found the job in the first place. Quite heart breaking.

  21. Jaye*

    I can totally understand where the OP is coming from, and I think that some of you guys who are on that side of the fence should see it from the perspective of those of us who are job searching.

    I have sent out hundreds of resumes, and these are for jobs where I fit the requirements they post online. A few get back to me.

    I have had a few interviews for companies like the OP describes when you take the time to interview and they don’t bother to get back to you.

    In one case, I had two phone interviews with two separate people, went in for a business math test ($3 for parking), and then went in again to interview with three more people for three hours ($6 for parking). They even gave me a packet with employee benefits. After that, they told me “we’ll let you know next steps next week, we want to fill the position quickly.” They never got back to me, even when I emailed and called the point person to politely ask about follow-up. A month went by, nothing. Then over a month later they update the online submission to say I didn’t get the job. They didn’t even take the time to email me personally. And the position is still open, and the description of said position has not changed.

    I’m not saying that I’m entitled automatically to a particular job, but I don’t see how employers can justify treating job candidates the way they sometimes do, even in this economy (especially in this economy – people are hurting financially out here!).

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I think everyone here is extremely sympathetic to that situation — it’s incredibly rude for employers to behave that way. But the reason the OP is getting the response she’s getting here is because the idea of protesting the decision is silly and comes across as entitled and naive.

  22. Anonymous*

    I agree with Jaye!! Same thing has happened to me. I am a professional. I learn from every interview. And I move on. I am not entitled to any job However, there is no life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness without a job.

    I believe that people who are on that side of the fence really don’t see it from the perspective of those of us who are job searching.

    It is is hard out here people!!

  23. claire*

    I didn’t get the job even after the manager asked me to apply, she texted me as soon as applications were open stating to apply so she can call me in for an interview. I was qualified and was already working extra shifts in the area I was applying for. I was devastated when I was rejected via a generic email…
    I called to ask how I could improve/why I didnt get the job. Her answer was “oh…um…I guess you just didn’t seem passionate enough”. Thought I was overly passionate – I mentioned how much I loved working there (during my extra shifts) and how it was my dream job etc. Feeling hard done by but hey….shit happens hey?

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