No matter where it comes from, rejection sucks. Getting that email or letter in the mail informing you the position you applied for has already been filled is enough to make you want to give up on your job search and wallow in self-pity for the rest of the day (or week, or month, for that matter).
But doing so could result in missing a second-chance opportunity that could keep you on the hiring committee’s radar. Just because the singular process of the actual job interview has reached its conclusion doesn’t mean your professional relationship with a potential employer has to. In fact, a job interview that doesn’t go as expected might actually end up leading you to bigger and better things in the long run.
1. Make a Great First Impression
Dealing with rejection begins, ironically, before you’ve even been rejected from a job interview in the first place. Obviously, you don’t want to go into the interview process with the mindset that you’ll fail, but you should always keep the possibility in mind. Because nothing is ever guaranteed, and failure is always a possibility, you want to make a great first impression before you even meet with your potential employer, and throughout your initial interview.
Your cover letter and résumé should never be boilerplate and run-of-the-mill. While you will generally be including the same information when applying for similar positions, each cover letter you create should be unique and created for that specific job. While your résumé might not change much for different positions, do a little research on the company you’re applying at so you can highlight work experiences that align with the position you’re interested in.
When you get to the interview, make sure you take notes while your interviewer speaks. He’ll want to see you have a genuine interest in the position and the company, not just in getting the job. These notes will also come in handy later, whether you get the job or not. Make note of all the responsibilities the position entails, as well as any questions you might have about the position. This will give you a chance to learn more about the company when it’s your turn to ask questions.
Regardless of whether you succeed or fail during your job interview, take the experience for what it is: a time to learn. If you analyze the experience from an objective point of view, you’ll learn a lot about your own strengths, weaknesses, and uncertainties. You’ll be able to tell what went well and what may have turned your interviewer off. Whether you think you’re a shoe-in for the position, or you completely bombed out, there’s always something to take away from the process as a whole.
2. Look on the Bright Side
Think of when you got that phone call telling you the company wants you to start on Monday. You probably felt as if everything had fallen into place perfectly, right? On the other hand, when you got the call or letter stating your interviewer has decided to move in another direction, it was obvious that something went wrong. But that in no way means that everything went wrong. Think of the positives that could possibly come about, despite having been rejected from the position you had your heart set on.
Maybe it was a case of “right place, wrong time”. You don’t really know the other applicants, and it may be that you were one of the last ones in line and the interviewer had already met the perfect candidate days earlier. Just because you didn’t get the job doesn’t mean you are absolutely awful at what you do. It just means there was someone who was a better fit for the position. All it means is that you have room to improve.
You should also never think of rejection as the be all and end all of your professional relationship with your interviewer. Just because you were rejected doesn’t mean you were his absolute last choice of the pool of applicants he spoke with. You might have been his second choice. And you never know what could happen; maybe the person who got the job will leave in a few months for a better offer, and you might end up getting a callback. But this will absolutely never happen if you don’t stay positive and follow the final piece of advice.
3. Stay Connected
The vast majority of us know to send “thank you” letters or emails to our interviewers. It’s just a simple formality that shows you appreciate the interviewer taking the time to meet with you and discuss the position. However, you should always go beyond simply saying “thanks”. It should be more along the lines of what career coach Robert Hellmann calls the “influence letter”. An influence letter serves to follow up on the interview process, asking probing questions about the position and company that may have been left up in the air during the interview. You can also discuss any of your skills or previous experiences that you believe would benefit you if you were to get the position.
Hopefully, the interviewer will reply, even if just to be polite. This will open the door to more communication between both of you and is an opportunity you should never miss out on. Ask for feedback regarding your interview. Inquire about whether or not your qualities are what your potential employer was looking for and what skills you may have fallen short on that would have helped you get the job. Regardless of whether or not you end up with an offer for that specific position, you’ll know what you need to work on before you start applying for similar positions elsewhere. Furthermore, you show that you take the initiative to better yourself professionally, which will help keep you on the interviewer’s radar even if he passed you over for this position.
Lastly, if you end up getting rejected by the interviewer, but he still has great things to say about you, you can still forge a professional relationship with him as part of your network. It never hurts to rely on someone who’s in a higher position and who knows people who could help further your career. Perhaps a position recently opened up in a partner company, and your interviewer would be more than happy to put in a good word for you. Maybe he knows of some internal promotions coming about and was keeping you in mind as a replacement. Of course, he’ll never be the one to come to you unless you show interest and initiative first. Even if you don’t end up getting the job you were looking for, keep an open mind as to what else is out there and how you can use your newfound connections to your advantage.
See Also: How to Make The Best Of Rejection
Like I said, rejection is hard to take, and it’s easy to let it get you down. But you’ll never get anywhere if you let small bumps in the road stop you from attaining your goals. When you find out you were passed over for a job, you have two choices: you can rip up the letter and pretend you didn’t even want the job in the first place, or you can reach out and do whatever you can to convince the interviewer he should keep you on his radar.
Have you ever turned a rejection into a job offer? Share your tips and stories with us in the comments section below!