Anticipating a job interview is like prepping for a skydive or a first date. Anxiety escalates as the crucial day approaches. You find yourself conducting conversations with your cat. You can see yourself in the job –– and it looks right. You practice interviewing with a friend; you researched the company and the interviewer. You arrive feeling confident and poised. During the interview, you answer questions clearly while the other person laughs or smiles at all the right moments. Afterward, you’re almost giddy. Then the waiting begins.
It could take days or weeks before the email or phone call arrives. When it does, you’re stunned. You can feel the blood rush from your face. Your stomach drops. They went with another candidate. Worse, this isn’t the first time.It keeps happening. Instead of just complaining to your bestie that I keep getting rejected after interviews, here are some ways to change the outcome the next time.
1. Courtesy Counts
Hopefully you remembered your manners when you were rejected. If they did you the courtesy of an actual call, return the kindness by thanking them for their time. Mention how much you admire the company. They likely won’t detail why they chose someone else, but there’s no harm in asking if they saw an area that needs improvement or a skill you should polish. Whether they email or call, take the time to write them a thank you. It will help you stand out the next time there’s an opening. Successful actors often audition for years, even decades before their big break. If you’re passionate about your dreams you won’t let failure stop you. You might have multiple meetings with the same hiring managers before the right fit comes along. If you were their second-choice candidate, that could put you on their short list. Courtesy and kindness will virtually guarantee that you are the first person that comes to their mind when there’s another vacancy.
2. Feel Your Feelings
If you felt fine, you wouldn’t be normal. Be angry, be sad. Cry, yell, rage against the machine. Have some ice cream; go jogging. Then regroup, analyze and move on. No one wants an invitation to a pity party.
3. Interview Autopsy
I’ve had clients tell me I keep getting rejected after interviews but they want to forget all about it. A bad interview doesn’t just go away. Denial doesn’t do you any favors. Just like a crime scene investigation, look at the evidence. Write down everything the interviewer asked along with your responses. Take advantage of those difficult post-rejection emotions –– short-term stress temporarily improves memory. It can also motivate you. So, list any questions you answered inadequately along with skill set gaps the interviewer harped on. Get real with yourself –– few others will. Start preparing for the next interview even before you get it.
4. Are You Sure the Job Fit?
The rejection lets you re-evaluate your career. Maybe this wasn’t the right step for you. Each “No” is a new opportunity. Take a hard look at the person staring back at you from the mirror. I really believe “rejection” is a course correction from the universe. Maybe the job wasn’t really for you. The rejection could actually be positive feedback –– if it was so “perfect” why didn’t you get it? Maybe you pursued an opportunity based on what your parents wanted or your partner. Think about what you really want. Then go for it.
It’s easy to polish skills through on-the-job training. You may need to actually do some pre-job training. Increasingly employers examine certifications. Learn how to code, get SEO certified. Take an online management course. Become a more attractive candidate.
Know that you will miss 100% of the shots you don’t take (as Wayne Gretzky so elegantly phrased it). Failure is an integral part of success. Salespeople realize that every “no” puts them closer to that crucial yes. Sleeping might be easy. Dreams are difficult. If you really want something badly enough and are willing to work, it will happen. Don’t focus on your fear. Pay attention to what an amazing, unique human you are. Embrace failure even as you pursue success. Because there’s a “yes” just around the corner.