By Stephen Hickmore – I hear the disappointment in a candidate’s voice when I tell them they did not get the job. The down side of being a recruiter is delivering this bad news. It’s understandable that negative news hurts and natural to feel rejected, but the important thing is to learn from the disappointment and become a better job applicant. A mature approach to rejection is good for your career. A chance to fix the elements that you got wrong.

In no particular order here are ten reasons why you did not get the job

Social Media Profile

A quick google search and some “stalking” on Facebook tells a potential employer a lot about a candidate. Your festive Friday night may work against you in this context, as could your rants about Politics and your present boss. Do a social media audit, check what the general public can see and adjust your profile to a professional image. You can still have fun. But grow up, that profile picture of you with a can of lager on your head just has to go.

Personal Presentation

They say that an interviewer makes up their mind within the first 5 minutes of the meeting. That all important first impression. Chefs should wear crisp whites, trousers that fit, shiny shoes, tidy hair and a project a friendly demeanour. The unshaven unkempt and slovenly look will see you out of the interviewer’s door before you can say “trout carpaccio”.

Lack of preparation and research

This happens a lot. A recruit arrives for interview without having researched the establishment, the menu. Has not read reviews, unaware of the type of position they are applying for. He sits in front of the interviewer with Zero knowledge. Find out some facts about the establishment, how long they have been in business, the type of clientele, do they do functions? what style of food? Find out the background and professional reputation of your interviewer. This will give you confidence and something to talk about in the meeting.

Errors on your CV

Do you honestly have that Diploma? Did you really work for Marco Pierre White? Or did you perhaps make it up? Any lies, any inaccuracies will catch up with you. Even a small fib will scare off any potential employer. Be accurate and honest on your CV, period!

Your interview Style

I have seen it all, from “wet fish” handshakes to being drunk at interview. A job interview is intrinsically a conservative event. Not a time to crack outlandish jokes, slouch, take phone calls, and slag off your present employer. No place to chew gum, be rude, be late or discuss your recent break up with your lover. It is a time to sell yourself, to show off your talent and good reputation.


I have never seen a bad written reference presented by a candidate, but I have made plenty of phone calls to check there validity. Remember to always leave a job on a high note. An employer will always phone to check if you are who you purport to be.

Inadequate Communication with recruiter or employer

So many candidates don’t respond quickly to calls, e mails and text. When an employer or an agent wants answers give them as quickly as possible. The employment market is very competitive. You have to commit to interview times, respond promptly to communication. Long explanations about broken cars, sick dogs and no days off are not an excuse for being unavailable for a week. I may sound harsh, but if you wanted the job you would move heaven and earth to keep in touch.

Cook offs

Employers want to test skills. Nearly every interview program leaves space for a cook off. Generally this is for all positions in the kitchen from Commis to Exec Chef. A prodigious way to showcase your skills, but also a great way to let yourself down. The key is to be prepared. Get as much information on the procedure as possible, what is the format? What types of dishes would they like? What skills are they looking for? Remember Cook offs are also testing the way you perform in the kitchen with an existing team and not just the final result.

Lies, Lies, Lies

If you lie you will not get the job. Sorry for you!


I like to encourage people to apply for positions they may be slightly underqualified for. It’s good experience and it stretches an individual. Sometimes there is potential in a candidate and an employer can be very positive. Roll that dice occasionally but don’t be frustrated if you fall short.


So get out there and Knock ‘em dead !

Originally publish in Chef! Magazine