The thrivers guide to job rejection

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After a long, drawn-out application process and a torturous interview, it’s pretty deflating to get the call, letter or email telling you you didn’t get the job. It may well have been a “very difficult decision” for the interviewer to choose from among such a “high calibre of applicants”, but that doesn't make it any easier. At the end of the day, rejection is rejection. Here are some tips for making the most out of an otherwise disappointing situation. 

Accept the setback graciously

Being turned down for a job can evoke all sorts of unpleasant emotions. It’s important to keep on top of these feelings and remain professional while you are still in conversation with the recruiter. You never know when or if they may be hiring again, and bursting into tears, getting into an argument with them or expressing how sorry you feel for yourself are likely to burn your bridges fast.  

Get it in perspective

It wasn’t the job for you. Someone else simply had skills or qualities that were the best match for what was required – that means it's not personal or necessarily any reflection on your competency. There are plenty more jobs out there for which you are the best match.  

You could also think of the many applicants who didn’t even make it beyond the pile of applications. Being in demand enough to get an interview shows you have plenty that recruiters are interested in.

And remember the old saying ‘what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’. You start the next job application process with more valuable interview and application experience under your belt than before, a little older and a little wiser. 

Say thank you

A little bit of courtesy never hurt anyone, and assuming you didn’t completely tank at interview, saying thank you will leave a very favourable impression with the employer should future job opportunities arise. A polite thank you note is also one of the most effective ways to ask for interview feedback if it hasn’t been offered already.

Get feedback

Feedback is the silver lining of any job rejection. Without it, we might end up replaying the interview in our heads ad nauseum, trying to second-guess what went wrong when, in actual fact, perhaps nothing went wrong at all in terms of your performance – someone else just ticked more of their boxes. Even if you did come up short in a particular area, isn’t it better to know so you can take steps to avoid the same mistakes in future? Interview feedback is a free lesson in learning what interviewers want to hear and how they want to hear it, which could prove vital in your next interview.

For more advice around interview feedback, see our previous blog: Interview feedback: you need to hear this.

WorkSMART’s Getting a Job section also has more information and tips on interviews and the whole application process.