I just finished a tour on an ad hoc committee to hire three full-time, tenure track faculty in psychology at my university. For the three positions, we had ten finalists. Evaluating all ten finalists in a day-long marathon of interviews and observations is a grueling prospect for everyone involved. Thankfully, I had some stellar colleagues who picked up my slack.
We had a great crop of applicants for these positions. If it were possible, the committee would have liked to hire seven or eight finalists. But we were forced to limit our selection to three individuals. It was not easy. When everybody is stellar, the differences among candidates becomes subtle. I cannot divulge how the committee made its final decision, but I am happy with the candidates who we hired.
There is a lesson here for people on the job market in academia:
Amazing, qualified, superb job candidates frequently get turned down for jobs.
I am sure that this is little comfort to those candidates that did not receive a job offer. But it is true. Being a finalist for a tenure-track job in academia is an accomplishment worth being proud of. If you were a finalist and did not receive a job offer, it may not be your fault. Keep applying because you may be the person who edges out the competition at the next university that you interview at.