By: Greg Thorpe
For every job a company recruits for, inevitably someone with a great CV, fantastic ideas, desirable skills and amazing personal qualities will be rejected. Does that make you feel any better? Probably not.
Along with the excitement of looking for a new job, progressing your career and finding a company that you want to work for, is the possibility that you’ll get rejected at first interview stage for a job you really want. Picking yourself up again, dusting yourself off and getting back out there after interview rejection is tough, however, it’s got to be done if you want to find a new job and achieve all those associated goals.
So here is my advice for dealing with interview rejection. I’ll try to avoid the clichés like ‘it probably wasn’t meant to be’, although there is often wisdom in these rather trite sayings. Instead here’s an action plan of what to do after an interview rejection so you can take control of your job search again:
Give yourself a break
First off, take a little bit of time out after a job rejection before you react to it. I don’t mean take a holiday or don’t go to the interview you’ve got lined up later that day! But just sleep on it, try not to dwell on it, and give yourself some breathing space before you do anything.
This should take the edge off the disappointment or hurt and allow you to access the situation with a little less emotion.
Ask for feedback
If you’re working with a recruitment agency speak to your Consultant and ask them if they’ve had any feedback or can request feedback from the employer. If you’re in direct contact with the employer ask them whether they can take the time to talk to you. The best way to do this is with a follow up email, thanking them for the interview opportunity and stating that you would welcome feedback – both positive and negative.
Stress that you want to learn, not that you want to interrogate them, and that you want feedback for self-development.
Review the interview
Think back over the interview and how you thought you performed. Were there any instances where it didn’t feel like it was going your way that you could work on for future interviews? If you’ve managed to get some feedback, how does this reflect on the interview? Did the employer highlight anything that you can improve on?
Revisit the job
There are many reasons you may have been rejected, not necessarily because of anything you said or did during the interview. It may actually be because the job or company wasn’t a good fit for you, and this became apparent while the interviewer was questioning you.
Have another look at the job description, company info and also your CV. Could you be more selective in the roles you apply for to get a better fit? Is your CV misleading in any way, resulting in invitations to interviews for roles you’re not really right for?
Address the issues
If the employer flags up something specific in their feedback, or if you have a good idea of what ‘went wrong’, you’ve got something to work with. You may benefit from some interview practice with your recruiter or a coach, or perhaps you need to address a lack of qualifications or knowledge by getting some training.
Having gleaned what you can from your experience, it’s time to move on. Often the reason for interview rejection is because of a gut feeling, personal preference or an unconscious bias (the other candidate went to the same university, or also like sailing etc.). There’s not much you can do in these circumstances unless you can prove discrimination and that’s not a great way to get a new job.
Seize the positives, learn from your mistakes (sorry cliché alert!) and get back out there looking for the next opportunity.