interview rejection

05 Dec 2018

Constructive Ways to Manage Interview Rejection

Interview rejection is a painful part of the job search process.  Too often fear of rejection keeps you from moving forward.  Sometimes it keeps you from taking a chance altogether.  It seems safer to stay where you are.  There is no way to avoid interview rejection but there are very therapeutic ways to manage it when it happens.

Keep your funnel full                                 Job funnel

For those of you with a sales background you already understand a sales funnel.  Finding a job is similar.  In a sales funnel you start with a large number of prospects knowing that you’ll end up closing a small percentage of them.

The best ways to manage interview rejection is to create many opportunities.  If you are interviewing with 6 companies it won’t hurt as much when 1 of them turns you down.  You still have 5 options ahead of you.  However, if you’re only interviewing with 2 companies you just lost 50% of your prospects.  Scary!

Don’t stop prospecting for opportunities until you’ve accepted a job.  Keep your funnel full of possibilities.  You only need 1 to work out.

Accept that it will happen to you

I don’t know anyone who has been hired for every job they ever wanted.  No matter how sharp or smart or experienced, you are going to experience interview rejection.  Get ready for it.  Expecting it makes it easier to tolerate when it happens.

When a top salesperson mets quota they celebrate the successes that got them there.  Even though they were rejected many more times than they were successful.  They don’t cry about the deals that they could not close.  They know that it is part of the process.

Victory is sweetest when you’ve known defeat. – Malcolm S. Forbes

It’s only natural to covet things that are more difficult to obtain.  It is because of this that precious metals are expensive.  If gold was as plentiful as sand it would be inexpensive.  Each time you experience interview rejection it may help to know that your reward when you get hired will taste even sweeter!

Learn from your experience

Many times a candidate is so disappointed that they miss the chance to learn.  There is nothing to be ashamed of.  It is perfectly acceptable to ask the company for feedback.  If they are willing to share their hiring decision it may be a priceless learning opportunity.

At a minimum go back through the process in your memory.  Carefully make notes of the best and worst parts of the interview process.  Do more of what worked and improve on the things that didn’t work.  Use this interview rejection to your benefit.  You will be that much better in the next interview.

You are only human     Fear of rejection

Scientists believe that fear of rejection lives in one of the oldest parts of our brain from an evolutionary perspective.  Early man didn’t evolve with great speed or long fangs and claws.  Because of this, our early ancestors had to stick together in a clan to survive.  Consequently, rejection meant death.

When you are stinging from rejection it may help to know that it is an evolutionary response.  It is a deep part of being a human being.

Give yourself a little time to process your interview rejection

Rejection and disappointment are strong emotions.  It’s okay to feel them.  But it’s not okay to carry them around and let them hold you back.  You need to keep moving forward to find your next step.  Set a limited amount of time to let yourself process your feelings.  24 or 48 hours is enough.  When your time is over you will know it’s time to move on.

Celebrate the victories when you didn’t get the job

One of my clients recently made it to the end of a very long interview process only to learn that she was the second choice.  She didn’t get the job.  Consequently she was upset.

She had been through 3 rounds of interviews, met with 5 executives of the organization and took a comprehensive aptitude test.  She excelled in all.  In fact, she stood out among a very large field of candidates.

That’s a lot of wins with only 1 loss. If interviewing was a sport and she had won every game except the championship she would be celebrating a fantastic season.

It’s probably not about you

I have been in the employment industry more than 20 years.  In that time I have seen thousands of candidates NOT get the job.  Most of those decisions had little to do with the interview process.

Companies go on hiring freezes.  There might have been a referral from the boss.  Maybe the company found a way to save money and outsource the role.  Perhaps an existing employee decided to take the job.

There are many possible reasons you didn’t get the offer.  Most of them have nothing to do with you.

If you interview you will experience rejection.  However, it does not have to be scary.  Above all you can not allow it to keep you from your dream job.  By practicing these tips you will be able to turn your rejection into a positive learning experience.  Rather than fearing rejection use it to your advantage.  As a result, it will make you a better candidate in the next interview.

Do you have a great way to deal with interview rejection? I hope you will send me a message to share it with me.


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JT Driscoll
JT Driscoll has helped more than 3,000 professionals advance their careers. Recognized as one of the most accomplished employment experts in the United States, he built 3 successful recruiting firms before launching Hire Guide. Connect with JT on LinkedIn or Facebook to receive practical employment tips. Feel free to send him a message about your career.