REJECTION — Now what?

It is difficult to receive a verbal or written job application rejection, or no response at all, and then eagerly move forward with one’s job search. For many, it is also challenging to process the experience and retain a sense that one did well and has something of value to offer. So much of the interview success narrative hinges on whether an individual received a job offer.

I am encouraging you to change this narrative.

While there is value, after an interview, to assess what you might have done better, in many instances the person interviewed did very well, but the employer sought a different fit for the position.

Maybe the employer needed to hire an individual with a specific personality trait to complement or motivate others within a project team. Perhaps in the process of interviewing candidates the employer realized a greater need for a specific skill that was not included or emphasized in the original job posting. Remember, there is the job posting and then there is EVERYTHING ELSE the employer seeks in the candidate.

Keep in mind that you can do well in an interview, even impress the interviewer, but still not be the best fit for the position or team. Not receiving a job offer does not mean that you did not do well! Not receiving a job offer does not mean that you do not possess skills and experiences of interest and value to other employers.

Interviewing requires resiliency, particularly an ability to recover. Resist a common urge to isolate, to avoid answering the dreaded questions, “How was your interview?” or “Did you get a job offer?”

Give each interview some thought; take steps to improve your interview question responses if you seek to do so. Consider taking advantage of opportunities to practice your interviewing skills and keep moving forward. When asked, “How was your interview?” consider replying with one the following responses:

“I felt very good answering all of the questions.”

“It went well. There was a question I could have answered better, but I have thought about a different answer for the future.”

“It was clear to me I was not quite the fit they sought, but the interview went well.”

“I didn’t get a job offer, but I know I did well at the interview.”

“I didn’t get a job offer, but I learned a lot and have a better idea about the types of positions to which I want to apply moving forward.”

The words and phrases you use reinforce your self-concept, and are important to propel you forward in your job search. If you feel defeated and use words of failure you will likely stay stuck in a negative pattern. When you choose words and phrases that capture what you learned, that identify the clarity you gained, and unhinge how well you did from whether you got a job offer, you will cultivate successes along your job search journeys, of which there will be many, that go beyond just getting a job.


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By Kay Kimball Gruder
Kay Kimball Gruder Assistant Director of Graduate Student Career Programs and Services Kay Kimball Gruder