Dumbest Reason for a Rejection?

I know oftentimes we are left feeling confused as to why we didnt get an offer (i.e., nailed the technicals, connected with the interviewees, etc.), but what was the most bizarre reason you ever got rejected?

When I was a UG student, Key Banc reached out for an IBD role in one of their shit tier cities (think it was Minneapolis) and asked if I was interested. I didnt have anything lined up at the time so I figured why not take the call. I was interviewing a fair amount and at this point had never been dinged first round (was like 12/12 for making it to the second round). After all, the first round is usually just tell me about yourself and why IBD, so I figured it would be easy. 

About 20 out of 30 minutes through the call, the Analyst asks me something and I respond with an answer that gives away my age (was on the 5 year track for UG due to switching majors). He immediately asks what year I graduated high school to confirm I was not graduating on time, not even slightly subtle about it. I respond honestly, admitting to being 22 as a junior. He then says, "thanks for your time, we'll be in touch."

Of course never heard from him again. 

To this day I think it is so petty that I was dinged for being marginally older (its not like I was 30 as a junior in UG). 

Anyone else get flat out rejected for a preposterous reason?

Comments (36)

  • Associate 2 in IB-M&A
Jun 22, 2022 - 2:13pm

When I was an idiot in undergrad, looking for my first SA gig, I didn't know "Investment Operations" was a back-office operations role having nothing to do with actual investing. Did a whole Operations interview for Capital Group talking about how much I wanted to work in an investing role, how much I love investing and how much I wanted to be involved in the core competency of the firm (investing). Dude finally explained to me, sounding defeated, that it's an operations role and they don't actually invest. I'm completely thrown off like "Oh, so you just do research and high-level PM work then?" and he again has to explain to me, even more directly, how ancillary Operations is to the actual investment work Capital Group does. 

I felt so bad by the end of it lol. 

  • Analyst 1 in IB-M&A
Jun 22, 2022 - 2:26pm

Definitely a more common one, but I did the same thing talking about investing and trading when interviewing for investment banking roles. Once I learned that investment banking was M&A, I was surprised and disappointed. Still recruited for it and did it though. Now I'm in PE, which has also been disappointing. 

  • Associate 2 in IB-M&A
Jun 22, 2022 - 3:17pm

I believe that was the end of my candidacy, but it isn't like I would have pursued it further once I learned what Operations is within the context of financial firms. 

Jun 22, 2022 - 7:02pm
toccata and fugue, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Something similar happened to an interview I had with a F500 company. I was interviewing for a Finance role but I thought it was an Operations Management role. I was so embarrassed when the interviewer told me I had the job confused.

Ended up getting the job anyway somehow

Jun 23, 2022 - 2:27am
Kevin25, what's your opinion? Comment below:

happened to me several times too (applying for positions not realizing what they are), but I said I would be interested in such roles as well since they're in the realm of my career aspirations - didn't hear back though

  • Associate 3 in PE - LBOs
Jun 22, 2022 - 3:23pm

Similar reasons to you, OP.  One for age: was flat-out asked my age and life circumstances as I was a little more "experienced" for the role I was chatting about, and one for not being the correct gender (I actually have this one in writing via email lmao).  Really dumb, but on to the next one(s). 

  • Associate 1 in CorpDev
Jun 22, 2022 - 3:48pm

These are both insane. If you dont mind me asking (and since were both posting anonymously), how old were you and what was the role? Any tips on responding to these types of questions. Have a few friends that are 3+ years behind the "preferred" track. 

The gender one is beyond insane. Sounds like a potential lawsuit waiting to happen. 

  • Associate 3 in PE - LBOs
Jun 22, 2022 - 3:55pm

~30 looking at a Sr. ASO role but in a completely different strategy and "tier" of firm, like think moving from a LMM buyout shop to a better-known VC/GE firm (or vice-versa).  My argument was well... faster ramp-up time and more value add in other areas of the firm. Didn't cut it apparently, I think they wanted someone they could grind a little more (i.e., younger with fewer familial responsibilities) and thought I'd balk at the comp even though we didn't discuss numbers.

Gender one could absolutely be a lawsuit given that it's in writing, but a small settlement isn't worth professional suicide, haha.  

  • Prospect in IB-M&A
Jun 22, 2022 - 10:16pm

Mentioned in an equity trading internship interview that I like fixed income more than equities when they asked about what kind of equities do I find more interesting.

Jun 23, 2022 - 2:22am
Kevin25, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I know people get rejected cause they come to interview without a tie or with a beard, which are bizarre reasons for rejection

Jun 23, 2022 - 9:47am
frozen assets, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Had a first round interview for a private equity analyst intern position.  Interview went well, didn't hear back for a few days, so I followed up and asked about a timeline.  The associate I interviewed with politely told me they pivoted into hiring a full time analyst, which I understood....

...until I saw them repost the intern job application about an hour later.

  • Associate 1 in CorpDev
Jun 23, 2022 - 11:04am

Ooooof, this big time sucks. Not exactly the same but I was interviewing for a different regional boutique (not Key Banc) and made it to the final round. In the end I got beat out by someone with a better resume, but they mentioned a different location was hiring, and encouraged me to interview there, stating I was a strong candidate they really liked. 

Went through an expedited process with same firm location #2 only to get rejected again, with HR claiming fit was where I fell short. Ended up eventually securing something better but this was a huge blow to moral as recruiting had not been going well. 

Hope you were able to land on your feet and it all worked out. 

Jun 23, 2022 - 2:29pm
frozen assets, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Your situation sounds equally as ridiculous, but happy it worked out for you!

I definitely feel you on the morale part.  It hurts in the moment and is tough to look forward as you're going through it.

Fortunately for me, I found what I'd currently describe as the perfect role for me, so all is well!


Jun 23, 2022 - 4:50pm
icejanitor, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I think it's only illegal to discriminate on age if you're above 40... and then even then, they don't have to say the age is the reason

Jun 23, 2022 - 4:26pm
dan_yo23, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Not particularly dumb reasons for rejection, but rejection and redemption nonetheless: I was asked to apply to a SFA role under a manager on a different team. I did, and ended up getting rejected because they liked another candidate more. No foul, still stung to get rejected after being asked to apply.

A few months later a new manager role opens on the same team- I apply and again get rejected because they want someone with more experience. They end up taking my boss.

A few weeks later I get a call from the director of the team asking if I'm interested in a different SFA role on the team- felt pretty good to say that unfortunately that was my last day with the company, and that I was about to start as manager elsewhere. Nothing better than feeling like you are worth more and then being able to back that up.

Jun 23, 2022 - 4:54pm
Isaiah_53_5 💎🙌💎🙌💎, what's your opinion? Comment below:


"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee

  • Associate 1 in IB - Cov
Jun 24, 2022 - 2:45am

I had a shit gpa and was looking at graduating without a job until an uncle of mine hooked me up with a first round interview at Deloitte for human capital consulting after one of their incoming analysts reneged on an offer. Interviewer had to explain the difference to me between working in HR internally at Deloitte (what I thought the job was) versus what they do. Even though I broke in via the MBA this one still bothers me so much. 

  • Senior VP in AM - FI
Jun 24, 2022 - 11:25am

Was once told that after being the best candidate for a PE Associate role...they ultimately ended up offering someone else because "while everything was great...it sounded like we were talking over a beer...versus a more formal environment...maybe its socal vs norcal thing". I was really dejected but it was for the best bc clearly the culture would not have been a good fit. Of course the opposite could play out if you come across as too stuffy, depending on the firm. Lesson learned...find the right culture...don't force something. 

  • Associate 1 in CorpDev
Jun 24, 2022 - 11:28am

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  • Consultant in Consulting
Jun 24, 2022 - 10:59pm

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