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Nov 27

Category: Interview tips

Unfortunately, there is a point in everyone’s careers where you’ve prepared, studied and nailed an interview… or so you thought.

Most people have experienced it at one time or another. After a long, nervous wait you finally receive the dreaded notification by email or phone call (if your interviewer is polite enough to bother to get in touch at all, that is) and you feel gutted.

The worst thing is, you often can’t see it coming. Perhaps you felt like the interview was a success, your company research had been spot on, and that you’d asked all the right questions. In these circumstances, rejection can be tough. It’s vital, though, that you bounce back. Here’s how.

#1 Don’t blame yourself

The reason you take rejection so hard is because of the way your brain is wired, says Melody Walding. You’re ‘hardwired to pay more attention to negative events than to positive ones’ which can lead you to blow a “no” out of all proportion.

The solution, she argues, is to engage in ‘reality testing’ — thinking up all of the plausible reasons you didn’t get the job and focusing in on the most likely. For example, it’s more likely that you lacked a skill in a certain area, that you didn’t have quite enough experience, that your knowledge of the specific industry wasn’t quite right, and so on.

Don’t over generalise and assume you’ll never get a job. Give it some perspective! You weren’t right for this specific post, but there are many more jobs out there. Instead of focusing on the rejection, focus on the next time and how you’ll absolutely nail your next interview.

#2. Focus on the positives

Every interview is an educational experience. At the least, you will have learned something throughout the interview process, whether that is something about yourself or some new knowledge and skills.

Interview Preparation is a useful experience in its own right. The process of researching a company and an industry, preparing your answers to common interview questions and practising your personal elevator pitch are useful experiences to have gone through.

Perhaps you’ve come away with greater knowledge of a new industry? Maybe you now better understand the next steps you need to take in order to take on a more challenging role? Or maybe you have honed your answer to some of the trickiest interview questions. The bottom line? However bad you’re feeling, there were almost certainly positives.

#3. Reflect and improve

You’ll never know the reasons you weren’t successful if you don’t ask. So, ask your recruitment consultant or the hiring manager for interview feedback.

Professionally, not personally, reflecting on the feedback and identifying gaps in skills or knowledge will ensure you fill those for next time. Even if you don’t receive a response, it’s important to reflect on what went well, what didn’t, and what you can do differently next time.

A very common reason for rejection is interview style. Ask a friend or — if you’re working with one — your recruitment consultant about things like your body language, eye contact, and the speed with which you’re giving answers. Often, simple changes can lead to big improvements.

Read more: How to use your body language to succeed in interviews

#4. Regardless of how you feel, write a thank you note

As painful as it can be to follow up with an interviewer at your dream company after being let down, it’s the right thing to do. Job search expert Susan Joyce recommends writing a short thank you note to everyone who interviewed you.

Keep it simple, she suggests, but make sure to include several key elements. Her advice:

‘Thank them for letting you know the outcome, thank them for their time and consideration, show appreciation for the opportunity to learn about the organisation, express your disappointment and continued interest in working there, and lastly, ask them to get in touch if there’s ever a future opening’.

While a short thank you note is best practice, only devote serious time if you’re interested in working at the company at some point down the line. Otherwise, a quick email will suffice.

#5. No matter what, keep searching

It’s common for candidates to lose momentum after a rejection or to pause while they wait to hear from a dream job. However, it’s important not to slow down or be despondent. Keep on looking, keep on applying, and stay in touch with your recruiter to hear about future opportunities.