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When life gives you lemons…(or how to cope with interview rejection)

We’re all familiar with that period of anguish after an interview when we’re waiting for feedback. In the end, the agony can be worth it if you get the role. But what if things don’t go according to plan and you’re met with rejection? There’s no doubt about it - it can hurt!


However, as the saying goes: ‘when life gives you lemons, make lemonade’. In order to improve, we need to learn to see every rejection as a learning opportunity which will help to set us up for success in the future. Here are some tips on how to move forward after interview rejection, and how to make your lemonade all the sweeter:


Quiet the negative voice in your head and restore your confidence

Losing out is never fun, so take the time you need to gather your thoughts and get into the right headspace to move forward. Treat yourself to a little indulgence and be kind to yourself. Remind yourself that you did well to get a final stage of an interview; a job rejection doesn’t define you or undermine your achievements.


Ask for feedback

Seeking feedback calls for courage but can be invaluable in helping you understand why you didn’t succeed at interview, and how you avoid this in future. Let them know that you’re still actively continuing your job search and would value any insights they have about why they didn’t feel you were the right candidate on this occasion. Not everybody will provide feedback and some companies have policies against it. If you get some helpful feedback in return, that’s great, you can work on it. But if not, even asking shows that you’re someone who can move on from disappointments and is willing to learn from them. You may also find out that you were a close second for the role and would be considered in future for another!


Remember what you did right

While it’s easy to beat yourself up, try to avoid it! Revaluate the interview and think about where things didn’t go as smoothly as you would have liked and reflect on what went well. Write it down whilst it’s still fresh in your mind. A 2-column approach of ‘what went well’ and ‘what I could have done better’ is useful. You can use this as a plan on how to tackle interviews differently in the future, and perhaps compare your next interview to see how you’re improving. After all, if you only focus on the negatives, you won’t be able to see the positives. Instead of blaming yourself for the failure, applaud yourself for landing an interview with a great company, and know that if you were able to do it once, you’ll be able to do it again.


Stay positive & determined

Sustaining a positive mental attitude is crucial during this phase and you will need to be calm and collected to focus on the next opportunity. Remember, you are not alone, and that your patience, dedication and hard work will pay off.


Know what you can’t control

While you can control some things about the interview process that may affect the outcome, there are other things you can’t control. You might feel that you’ve given the best interview of your life but remember that there may be deciding factors you won’t be aware of.


Remember too, that sometimes it’s simply about ‘fit’. Perhaps there was another candidate with the same skills and experience level as yourself, but they just connected better with the interviewer. Often there’s little you can do about this, but ensuring you’ve researched the organisation’s values and purpose statements will help you get off on the right foot with the company culture.


Be gracious

Even if the last thing you want to do is connect with the company that turned you down, you should. Send an email thanking the interviewer for the opportunity and stressing that although you may not have been the right fit for this position, you would still like to be considered for any future roles. It will leave the door open to the chance of working with the company in the future.





Photo by Han Lahandoe on Unsplash