How to turn an interview rejection into a positive opportunity.

by | 21st November 2017 | Career Refresh

Not many people expect to get every job they apply for. On average job seekers will apply for up to 27 positions to secure just 1 interview. This makes each interview precious and each rejection a blow – impacting confidence and energy levels. But a rejection doesn’t have to be all bad. If you’ve had a bad interview resulting in a rejection, or if you thought you had a great interview which ended in rejection there are a number of things you can do to turn the outcome into an opportunity for success next time. Your next step is to take back control of your job search by doing these 7 things:

  1. Set up a call to gain REAL feedback from the decision maker (not just the person undertaking the admin for the recruitment process). For understandable reasons many people won’t be in the right frame of mind to receive feedback immediately. Thank the caller and let them know you would like to set up a call to go through feedback with the hiring manager.
  2. Get some separation. Take a couple of days to be distracted with other things to separate yourself from the emotion of the situation. Honestly ask yourself if the role was one you truly wanted. If not, your lack of enthusiasm may well have become apparent. Always assume your competitors in the process are passionate about the job. An employer will be recruiting for engaged, motivated staff rather than capable but detached ones.
  3. Get the right mindset. Though it doesn’t always feel like it, feedback is a gift. There is no other way to effectively see your own blind spots. If based on your CV you were a contender, then there must be some things you can learn about your interview approach.
  4. Reflect and prepare. Think back over the course of the interview and reflect to yourself how you might have approached the various aspects of the interview it in a different way. Make notes on specific things you think could have been improved.
  5. Have an open dialogue. Open the feedback call in a positive way and be clear that you are genuinely interested in feedback that will enable you to learn. This should put the hiring manager at ease that you are not looking to challenge their decision. With luck the hiring manager will have prepared their comments ahead of your call, but this often doesn’t happen. Allow the hiring manager to take the lead, but if the feedback is vague or only refers to other candidates being “better” in an unspecific way, try to direct the conversation to specific questions you have, for example:- How well your experience matched the Company needs – and how this came across during the interview
    – How accurately / adequately you responded to the questions
    – How well prepared you were
    – How well you built rapport
    – To what extent your enthusiasm came across
    – What else you could have done to have secured the role
    – Remember to ask about what you did well – this is equally important for your confidence as well as knowing what not to change.
  6. Listen to the feedback with an open mind. It goes without saying that you should not be defensive. Make notes during the conversation as it will help to reflect on the information in the following days. . Be grateful for the feedback and the time the hiring manager has devoted to the call and leave the on a positive note. It has been known for such follow up calls to strengthen relationships and lead to future opportunities with the same company.
  7. Put what you’ve learnt into practice. Make sure you compare your own reflections with the feedback you have received. Did you and the hiring manager see the same areas for improvement or were there some surprises? Prepare for future interviews by creating a list of questions you think will come up. Practice answering these questions out loud until you are happy and feel you can give your best answers. If you feel you would benefit, invest in some support with a simulated interview package from a career specialist.

Ultimately, you should never let a bad experience put you off going for your next job. Treat it as a learning experience and then put the learning in to practice.