Handling interview rejection

Learning lessons in handling interview rejection.

The degree of disappointment when you receive a rejection letter is obviously dependent upon how much you wanted the job.

It is easy to become despondent, especially if this is not the first rejection.  Overcoming these feelings is essential if you are to continue your job search with vigour and learn from the experience. It’s particularly important when handling interview rejection to look at the positives rather than focus on the negatives. 

Was it just my age?

When handling interview rejection it’s especially important of you are over 50 not to simple assume that it was because they thought you were too old. I have found this happening very often with older candidates and often leads to comments like ‘I don’t know why I even bother, no one wants someone of my age.’ However you were invited for interview in the first place and they knew your age then, so that isn't necessarily the reason.

Focus on your achievments.

Getting to the interview was in itself an achievement - there were probably many other applicants who did not get that far.  Other applicants besides you will have been rejected - and few, if any, will try to find out why.  Consider what you can learn and how to go about it.

Re-examine the interview.

 Were any indications given at the time that you might not be the selected candidate - perhaps doubts expressed that your experience did not match the needs of the company, that your age was a barrier?

Get feedback.

Contact your interviewer, preferably by telephone. If you ask for a response in writing you might get a carefully worded neutral response, or none at all. Be friendly and polite to avoid the potential of the conversation turning hostile - your interviewer may expect aggression or hostility from you. Handling interview rejection graciously is important.

Your approach must show a continuing interest in the company, express a genuine wish to find out why you did not succeed and endeavour to gain some pointer for your future interviews

Be prepared to restate you skills and the contribution you could make - there may be other positions in the company or the possibility that the person who has been offered the job will not accept it

Recruiters will very often say things on the telephone that they would never consider putting into writing but you will possibly have to read between the lines - do not expect such responses as:  "Your face doesn't fit" or "You're too old ".  Listen carefully to what is said and compare the comments with the notes you made immediately after the interview.  A useful question to put is:  "Is there any feed back you can give me which might help me in my job search?"

Are there trends in your rejections?

Look for trends in your rejections and question what you can do to overcome any barriers that you meet repeatedly.   Be candid and extremely self critical, but do not expect to be offered every job for which you are interviewed.   If you find that there is a general trend in the reasons for rejection, look again at your targets.

Are you approaching the right person/companies?

  • Does the written application (letters and Career Summary) match the level of the job for which you are applying?
  • Was the job below your potential?
  • Can you improve your performance and presentation at the interview itself?

Follow up

Even if the telephone conversation you have with your interviewer is negative, it is always worth following it up in writing.  You can at least thank the interviewer for their time and comments.  If no arrangements have been made to pay your travelling expenses for attending the interview this is a good time to claim them.

Use the lessons that you have learned and put the experience behind you.  Concentrate on creating the next opportunity and winning a job offer.  

If you found handling interview rejection interesting link to start a new career for more articles.