How to Handle Rejection in an Interview
It is hard enough to be told that you have not been chosen for a job. Being told that an employer is not interested in you directly after an interview can be a gutting experience. It is hard to stomach as there is a particular mixture of shame and embarrassment in that moment of rejection. You have put yourself out there, you have put your best foot forward, and you have been left wanting. Nevertheless, how we handle this event can make the difference in both the eyes of employer in front of you, and believe it or not, future employers.
There are three distinct types of rejection in an interview, all of which I have experienced firsthand. None of them is a fun pill to swallow and each holds a particular place in my mind as a quasi-traumatic event. However, looking back on each helped me in my future endeavors. The most important concept in each of the rejections is to not remove myself from the job hunt completely. While I am being initially rejected, finding a way to keep myself from being removed from consideration completely can sometimes be the key to seizing the job in the future.
First type of rejection
The first type of rejection is the “We just don’t have a place for you right now.” This type is the business equivalent of “It’s not you. It’s me.” That you might hear from someone when he/she is breaking up with you. When you hear this line, it is very important you keep your cool about the entire situation. You know the line is a lie because they would not have an interview if they did not have a place, so you know that what the employer is saying is “For you, there is no place at this establishment.” It is an underhanded rejection and that can make you mad. While we all have fantasies of telling an employer what-for when we hear this type of line, you must insist that you never indulge in this fantasy. Instead, you should graciously thank the employer and attempt to compliment his establishment with my parting words. I try to impart that it is a shame I cannot work there, as of yet since it is such a fine jobsite, and so on. What this will do is give the employer a sense of your sincerity, and let him know that you are a person with confidence and self-control. Why I utilize this tactic is because there are instances where an employer simply had already made up his mind about a previous candidate, and sometimes those first choices do not work out for the best. In those cases, if I kept a cool head and stayed complimentary and gracious in my dismissal, I may be first on the list if the first candidate falls through. In keeping a calm head, I kept myself in the race, despite my initial rejection.
Second type of rejection
The second type of rejection is the “You do not seem to have the qualifications we demand.” You can treat this rejection as only a partial rejection. The employer is saying that you “seem” to not have the qualification, and ought to see that as a challenge to impress upon him just how capable you are for the job. For me to immediately accept that what he is saying, it shows that you are the type of person that gives up when faced with any sort of rejection. This quality is not looked upon kindly by employers and so you must avoid accepting the rejection immediately. This does not mean you should assume that by persisting in my attempts that you will succeed in winning the job. However, just as the rejection above, by asserting my positive skills and proclaiming myself capable, all while keeping a clam demeanor and positive attitude, even if ultimately overlooked initially you can keep myself in the race if another candidate falls through.
Third type of rejection
The third rejection is a more harsh than the previous two. This rejection can happen for multiple reasons. Sometimes an employer believes you to be incompetent either for the job or in general. In these cases, they often will be kind to your face, but overall you are capable of noticing that they were not pleased with your interview. This rejection is one where you find it is often best to accept defeat, but at the same time you can use the opportunity to further knowledge of what has made a poor interviewee.
I have had three such interviews in my life, and in all three it was difficult to keep my composure as once I realized the interview was lost I had to ask the masochistic question “If I may ask, what was it about my interview that may have lost me this opportunity.” This is by far one of the more difficult situations as it makes both you and quite often the employer a bit on-edge. Remember that when you ask this question you am inviting in criticism. No matter how confident one is, it can be difficult to sit and allow someone to pick you apart as a person. The employer is in a position of power and does not have to be kind; but it is your right as a job-seeker to ask such a question. You will then have to withstand the worst of my perceived shortcomings and poorly executed interview skills. Afterwards, you must do my best to thank the employer for the opportunity to better oneself. The whole experience is not a total loss. Not only have you been given notes that you can improve on, but you also have expressed an initiative and willingness to learn that just may give me consideration at the job later on. Most especially, if you applied for a job that may have been a bit out of my qualifications, having exhibited such an interest in self-improvement and willingness to evolve will stick in the employers mind.
No matter which type of rejection experienced in an interview, it is important that to keep cool and allow an opportunity for future endeavors at the same establishment. Burning bridges to particular employers is never a strong idea and only limits your future options. Instead, taking the opportunity to learn and better the self, and keep the line of communication open between you and the employer will help the probability of future success.
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Image credited to careers.guardian.co.uk; unleadedwriting.com
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