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Five top tips on handling interview rejection

  • February 26, 2021

Everyone has been there, the dreaded rejection email, letter or phone call. It is never a nice experience. Whether you have had your heart set on the job, or weren’t even sure if you wanted it, it still hurts to know you have been rejected.

The way you handle rejection is so important. If you allow it to knock your confidence and make you doubt your abilities, it could affect your performance in future interviews. It can be especially hard to cope with it when it happens over and over again, but that’s not an uncommon experience for job seekers.

So whilst interview rejection is a fact of life, letting it affect you negatively doesn’t have to happen. If a rejection email does ping into you inbox, here are our five top tips on how to handle it and come back even stronger.

  1. Don’t take it personally!

It is easy to take rejection to heart and blame your abilities or interview technique. But try not to read too much into it. There can be many reasons behind hiring decisions that won’t be made apparent to you. For example, you may have performed excellently but there may have been a strong internal candidate who is already familiar with the business, or alternatively someone who has come through a recommendation in the company. These are things that you cannot change; they are beyond your control. You may never know the real reason why you weren’t selected, so don’t let it keep you down. If you were fully prepared and tried your best, there is little else you could have done.

  1. Accept it with grace and tact.

If you do get turned down for a job, show what a courteous and professional candidate you are by sending a polite thank you email the day you receive the rejection. This is especially important if you would like to be considered for their jobs in the future. You should thank the interviewer for the opportunity and for taking the time to meet with you and express how you would love to be considered for other openings. This will help leave you in a positive light and stand you above the other candidates who most likely don’t bother to email the interviewer back. It may even impress them enough that they remember you and keep you in mind for any future vacancies.

  1. You can ask for feedback if you didn’t get any, but…

If you didn’t receive any specific feedback, it is perfectly acceptable to politely ask. However, if you do, please don’t expect to always receive an honest and elaborate response. Some hiring managers may give you detailed and constructive feedback, but unfortunately many either don’t have the time or can be concerned about HR issues and will therefore keep replies short and generic, which can be unhelpful. As recruiters, we endeavour to give feedback to candidates wherever possible. However, we are only able to pass on feedback that is provided to us, which is not always forthcoming from busy employers.

  1. Learn from you experience.

A job interview, even an unsuccessful one, is a learning experience. The more interviews you do, the more skilled you will become at them. If you received specific feedback, you can take it on board and learn from it. If you didn’t receive feedback, still have a think about your performance and if there was anything you could have done better. But remember, as mentioned in point 1, don’t dwell on it too much. You may have performed excellently and the reason you weren’t selected could be out of your control.

  1. Keep a fresh perspective and keep applying.

It is normal to have your confidence knocked by a rejection, but you must not carry interview baggage around with you. Approach every new opportunity with a fresh perspective and a positive attitude. If you made mistakes in your last interview, learn from it but do not keep it at the forefront of your mind as it will only make you nervous. Candidates often lose momentum with their search after a rejection, but you must keep applying and not let it get in the way of your career goals. Besides, sometimes not getting a job is a blessing in disguise (as cliché as it may sound) and you will be one step closer to the right job for you.