Being rejected at a job interview for a job you really, really want can be traumatic. We’ve all been there. You can either sulk and stop going for more interviews altogether to avoid the risk of rejection, or you can buckle up, chalk it up to experience gained, and play the numbers game. After all, if you go for an interview, you may not get the job; but if you don’t go, you will 100% not get the job!
Its not personal (usually): There are a lot of reasons you can’t control, even if you rocked the interview. A company might prefer internal candidates, who often trump external candidates. Or the company might wind up in a hiring freeze and decide to hold off on filling the role. Or they went with another candidate because they were cheaper than you. Whatever the reason for the rejection, focus on what you can control.
Look at the positive: We all learn from our experiences and interview situations are no different. You can use the experience to build on your core strengths and address development points – all of which will help you land your dream job the next time round. Think back to questions that made you unsure or uncomfortable and work on a good response to those questions.
Thank you note: As with all interviews, write or email a personalized thank you note to your interviewer or HR contact person. Thank you for rejecting you? Well yes and no. Thank them for considering you and explain that you are really keen on working at that Firm in the future and would appreciate a call back for any opportunities in the future. Think about it – how many thank you notes have you written – especially if you were not selected? None, we assume. As do most people. If you do write one, you are more likely to stand out from the crowd and actually be remembered. How soon should you write one? Follow the 24 hour rule but wait at least a couple of hours after your interview to send the email.
Ask for feedback: In the same thank you email, ask for feedback on what you did well, and importantly, your areas of improvement. Do ensure that you also take action to remedy any personal shortcomings brought to your attention from feedback.
Narrow your search: The job market, especially post recession, is brutal. Earlier HR teams would make offers if you met 60-90% of the functional requirements. Now, they can’t afford to hire you unless they are 100% sure that you are a 100% match. The solution? Be highly selective with where you apply. Don’t be scared to turn down openings pitched to you as perfect by head-hunters and recruitment agencies if you feel they are not right.