Four horror stories why programmers don’t get jobs

Rejections can be devastating. Don’t take it personally. Often it is not your fault.

Horror-Story 1: Candidate rejected because of “wrong” framework

For a frontend role in an agency I pitched a frontend engineer who contributes to ECMAScript and wrote heavy open source contributions. It took me weeks to find this person and hours to properly assess him, including video interviews (that is what we love to do at He was rejected by an engineer who looked for ten minutes at the submitted code:

Horror-Story 2: Ex-Googler ALMOST rejected for not knowing the Bayesian formula by heart

One startup interviewing for a Python role interviewed a programmer who left Google-Zurich after four years. I had problems presenting this person to startups since everyone thought he will ask for Google-Zurich compensation (>200k CHF — double the average engineering-salary).

Horror-Story 3: Programmer was FORGOTTEN by HR

Usually, I closely track what happens with my candidates and how they are proceeding through the hiring funnel. While I was on vacation, a CEO gave his okay that they will hire a engineer I presented. I got that mail and assumed all will continue just fine without my intervention. But then this happend: The HR that worked remotely in another country forgot to follow up. Since I was on vacation I did not follow up either and the candidate thought for weeks he was rejected since nobody followed up.

Horror story 4: Candidate was rejected because he was better than the interviewer

People in the HackerNews comments of this article mentioned that sometimes great applicants don’t get hired because they are too good. I noticed this also and I appended this fourth story that stuck with me:


Recruiting is messier than you think. If you fail to get an offer, it does not mean you are a shitty engineer since rejections can have many reasons.

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