Rejection is an inherent part of a job search: that doesn’t make it an easy part. Dealing constructively with “no” is something we could all do better—good thing we get so many opportunities for practice! Here are 5 tips for when you are turned down for a position.
Don’t minimize your disappointment. You may have the urge to immediately put on a stiff upper lip, but not allowing yourself to admit that you are deflated can be counterproductive. Giving yourself permission to be honest about how you feel does not mean you have to wallow. Think through the experience, considering what you expected to happen. This will give you valuable information to move forward.
Don’t catastrophize the consequences. Just as you shouldn’t underplay your feelings, you shouldn’t overplay your fears. The way this hiring manager saw you, won’t be the way the next sees you. Realize this was a specific instance and the next interview will be as well. Don’t allow hesitation and second guessing to become a part of your thought process.
Get feedback. Don’t let the opportunity escape to gather information on why they opted to go with another candidate. For best results, contact your interviewer promptly. Express your appreciation for the opportunity to interview and ask if they would be willing to share 1-2 reasons they felt you weren’t the best fit for this position. Phrase your request in positive and open language that genuinely invites constructive criticism. In addition to providing you with their perspective, this will demonstrate that you are a person who seeks to develop which will leave a positive impression with your interviewer—something that might even prove valuable should you cross paths with them again.
Ask the tough questions, but don’t over analyze. Don’t stop with a response from your interviewer. Spend some time evaluating their feedback and tracing trends in the ways you’ve been perceived by interviewers. Are there adjustments you need to make in the way you are conducting your job search? Traits potential employers are regularly looking for? Aspects of your job history they have concerns about? Be brave enough to ask the difficult questions. Consider talking it over with a trusted colleague or friend to get an outside perspective. As with most things, balance is key. Once you’ve sifted through the experience and gleaned what you can learn from it, move forward.
Seek solidarity. Rejection is a lonely feeling. Combat it with seeking out community. Ask friends and colleagues about their interviewing experiences. It is heartening to be reminded that talented, successful people you admire had to interview many times to secure a position that was a right fit for them as well.