May 17, 2012

Handling interview rejection

Interview rejection

It’s hard not to feel discouraged when you’re hoping for ‘yes’ but hear ‘no’ . Whether you’re an interview veteran or a relative novice, rejection can be a bruising experience. It can also feel personal and strike at the very core of your confidence. Anger, frustration and resentment are all normal responses; there is no rule book for how to handle disappointment. Give yourself permission to wallow for a day or two, lick your wounds and then move on. Whilst it’s tempting to dissolve into self-pity (and we’ve all been there…) it certainly won’t move you closer to interview success.

Don’t take it personally
Easy to say, hard to do. We’re all programmed – or perhaps conditioned – to seek approval, and the interview process can make you feel really exposed. After all, it’s an opportunity to project your ‘best face’. Stop yourself at this point. The job interview is not a measure of your professional or personal worth. Start with the positives: you were invited to interview, others weren’t. You’ re already grabbing the attention of employers in a crowded, competitive job market. Yes, you may have fallen at the final hurdle, but you have to accept this is part of the process. Interviews are designed to eliminate the majority of candidates. Some you win, some you lose.

Don’t blame others
It’s easy to write off your interview failure as the employer’s fault. On paper you were clearly good enough, so what went wrong? Sometimes, nothing. The other candidate may just have been a better ‘fit’. Recruiters are assessing candidates against job criteria, but they are also looking for individuals to complement their team. Often this is an undefinable quality and employers themselves can’t always describe what ‘it’ is.

You also need to be really honest with yourself and try to separate your emotional response to rejection from a detached, objective analysis of your performance. You may simply have interviewed below par. Feedback can be helpful, but don’t feel too despondent if an employer says no – you can always talk it through with us. Maybe a mock interview would help you to address any shortcomings and refine your technique?

If you blame others for your failures, do you credit them with your success?

Focus on the positives
Acknowledge and ‘own’ your mistakes but don’t ignore the positives. You may have felt the interview was a disaster, but this is often a heightened perception of events. If you dwell on the negatives, you can create a self-fulfilling prophecy of failure. Once you’ve had time to digest the outcome, make a list of the things that went well. Perhaps you established a good rapport (a definite plus!) or the mental agility to think on your feet. Unless you’re incredibly lucky (or phenomenally good…) you’ll probably be interviewed many times throughout your career; draw on your past experiences to help you shape a job winning formula.

Keep it in perspective
Yes, it can be a crushing blow particularly if you’ve had a number of rejections in quick succession, but try to see it as a normal feature of your job search. If you are applying for graduate positions, then chances are you’re competing against people with a broadly similar profile. There’s a limited pool of ‘graduate track’ jobs for bright, ambitious individuals, so most of you will face initial disappointment. Make sure you have other applications in the pipeline and don't invest too much in one application or interview.

And finally, plan a great comeback - don't let the fear of rejection stop you!

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