Strategies for dealing with post-interview rejection.
By Uri Allen, CPRW
Having worked with many individuals in transition to their next career, I’ve found that many of my most frustrated and unsuccessful clients all suffer from the same thing…no follow up plan after a rejection. With no follow up strategy, many clients fall into a pattern of negative self-talk (I’m not good enough, I’m not smart enough, etc) and self-anger, all of which have detrimental impacts on the way they approach their future job search activities. Now, while there is no magic formula to take away the dream job rejection blues, having a strategy in place to address problem areas can help to soften the blow of rejection and give you a new and refreshed focus on your approach, which could in turn make you the dream candidate for your next dream job.
You weren’t the most qualified candidate/fell short on the interview/not enough recent training/ not experienced enough and all the other things you don’t want to hear!
These are typically the toughest pills a job seeker has to swallow…especially when this news is coupled with the call/letter that the job they have been dreaming and pining over has been given to a “more qualified candidate”. Often times, they begin to question their skills and ability to be an asset to a company and more often than not, this negative outlook leads them down a path of hurtful self-talk and self-doubt. Sometimes job seekers get angry, resentful or depressed…all of which are normal reactions to rejection. Rejection is never easy or pleasant but it’s what you do with the information that you weren’t the #1 choice that can really make a huge difference in your future attitude.
So back to the scenario…dream job found, applied, interviewed and subsequently the employer rejects you as a candidate. Now what?! Well, you have two choices after you receive the thanks, but no thanks. The first consists of getting wrapped up in the anger and hurt surrounding rejection…which usually equates to nothing productive (or nice!). The second option is taking some personal and professional inventory as to why you weren’t the most qualified candidate. One way that you can accomplish this is by asking the interviewer that rejected you. This may seem foreign or uncomfortable and some interviewers might not be willing to share that information, but most will and can lead to some great insight as what you can work on for your next interview. And if they say no, you are no worse for wear than when you approached them.
Another strategy is to do post-interview assessments to examine areas for improvement. Look at the questions that you had difficulty with and think about preparing strategies to tackle these in the future. Take an assessment every time that you go for an interview and it may begin to reveal some weak spots in your interviewing process. Do you get stumped on the biggest weakness question? Do you fall short when explaining to an interviewer why you were involuntary discharged from your last position? Come up with strategies to answer these questions and practice, practice, practice!
Maybe it wasn’t the interview but a lack of skills. Are you lacking in the computer area? Perhaps your math skills weren’t up to par? Maybe you needed some experience under your belt. While these may seem like impossible to conquer feats, there are many free and low cost options for job seekers to address these issues. A trip to your local job center (in Connecticut we have fantastic, awesome, amazing CTWorks Centers located throughout the state-*end shameless plug*) can help get you connected to free and low cost training and education opportunities in your area. Local libraries and community centers are also great places to access free or low cost training and often times will also offer workshops on topics such as computer usage, résumé writing, keyboarding skills and the like.
Another problem many job seekers face is a lack of experience or not enough recent experience in their dream field. Consider volunteering! Volunteering is a great way to get experience under your belt, appear even more attractive to an employer and do something that makes you feel good. Volunteering can also lead to some great networking and potential paid placement opportunities. Did I mention that it makes you feel good, too? You can find out about local volunteering opportunities by contacting your local 211 assistance line or getting in touch with local community service organizations in your area.
While rejection is something that many job seekers may have to face during their transition, coming up with strategies, learning from mistakes and addressing problem areas are ways that a job seeker can lessen the sting of a thanks, but no thanks. And as Journey said…don’t stop believing! Your dream job is out there waiting for you!