How to handle rejection after an interview

How to handle rejection after an interview

We have all been there, the dreaded rejection letter, email, or phone call. It is never a pleasant experience, particularly if you have faced several rejections so far in your job search, it can be easy to feel dejected and disheartened.

You may have been well prepared for the interview and felt that it went very positively, yet the final outcome was far from what you were expecting. This, of course, can be frustrating.

It is important to remember that the way you handle rejection is just as important as the skills on your CV when it comes to securing a new role. If you allow rejection to knock your confidence and make you doubt your abilities, it could negatively affect your performance in future interviews.

If a rejection email does ping into your inbox, here a few things to remember to help you remain positive, optimistic, and motivated.

1. It is not personal

It is easy to take rejection to heart and blame your abilities or interview technique on your failure to land the job. Try not to read too much into your rejection, these decisions are rarely based solely on your performance. If you prepared fully and tried your best, there is little else you could have done.

Many of the reasons behind hiring decisions will not be made apparent to you. You may have performed excellently, but there could be other factors at play. For example, there may have been a very strong internal candidate who is already familiar with the business, or another candidate with slightly more relevant experience than you. These are things you cannot change; they are beyond your control.

2. Rejection is not feedback

Do not just assume that everything you are doing is wrong because you did not get the job. It is perfectly acceptable to politely ask the recruiter or employer for more detailed feedback about your interview in order to help you improve. Remember though, interview feedback can sometimes be bland and unhelpful, so do seek out other genuinely useful feedback where possible. You could seek the advice of an HR professional and try out a mock interview in order to practice and get some constructive criticism.

As a recruiter, we endeavor to follow up on interviews and give feedback to candidates wherever possible. However, we are only able to pass on the feedback that is provided to us – which is not always forthcoming from busy employers.

3. A fresh approach

Do not carry interview baggage around with you. Approach each new job opportunity with a fresh perspective and a positive attitude. Tailor your CV to best match a new opportunity and fully research and prepare for a new interview. If you made mistakes or felt unprepared in your last interview – learn from this, but do not keep it at the forefront of your mind, it will only make you nervous. Every company and the hiring manager is different and will have a different view of the ‘ideal candidate.’ Keep a fresh approach while remaining true to your personality and experience.

4. Keep learning and developing

Your confidence can take a hit when you get a rejection, so it is important to work hard at keeping your morale and motivation levels buoyant.

Especially if you are not in current employment, it is a good idea to keep your skills sharpened and your experience up-to-date. This may take the form of a part-time training course (if relevant), a charity project, mentorship, or a voluntary position in a company of interest. While these activities might take place remotely in the current landscape, by keeping professionally active in this way, you can aid ongoing development, boost confidence, give yourself a focus outside your job hunt and provide a discussion point in your next interview.
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