Your phone lights up. An email from the recruiter is waiting in your inbox. This isn’t the happy, we’d love to work with you, phone call you were hoping for.
The message is excruciatingly generic. You are great but we are going in a different direction. Good luck with your future endeavours. You’ve heard the platitudes before but it still feels like a punch to the gut.
Getting rejected sucks. It makes you question the skills you bring to the table. In the painfully slow seconds after the “no”, you re-live the entire interview in slow motion looking for a hint of what went wrong.
Rejection is an essential part of working life. For every yes, a lot of capable, talented candidates get a “no.” You are not alone but how you handle it matters.
Make analysis your best friend
Our brains are wired to vividly remember negative experiences. It’s a safety mechanism. A way to minimise future pain. In reality, this tendency can backfire and lead to over analysing. This is not a constructive or a particularly fun path to go down. To avoid it, set time aside for purposeful reflection.
After the interview is over and the nerves have gone down, scientifically analyse your performance. Open up a fresh word doc or grab a piece of paper and identify the three things you did best and the three things you could improve on.
Be as precise as you can. Do you need to give better examples about your past experience? Did you stumble on a specific question? Were you caught off guard? The whole thing shouldn’t take you longer than 10-15 minutes.
Once you’ve got your answers down, take action. If you struggled answering a specific question because you lacked experience, think about what you can do to gain some. You can sign up for an online course, volunteer or ask a trusted mentor for help.
Use this natural tendency to analyse and examine problems to help you prepare for your next interview and deal with rejection better.
Every experience you go through starts a loop in your brain. Analysing what you went through, learning what you can, taking action and putting it behind you closes that loop. This makes moving on much easier.
After the no
If this is a company you genuinely want to work for, reach out and follow up on the interview. Get in touch with the recruiter or HR representative you talked to and thank them for the opportunity. It may sound simple but you may just crack that door open for future opportunities.
Whatever you do, don’t plead or haggle during a follow up. This isn’t about reversing the decision. It’s about building a relationship that can help you when a new position becomes available.
Cultivate a resilience mindset
This isn’t the only no you’ll ever hear. For every yes, there are at least seven no’s. Still, rejection can make you feel stressed about your life and your future employability. You can use that stress to your advantage.
In her book, The Upside of Stress, Kelly McGonigal explores the ways you can transform your stress into a power for good. One of the most interesting theories proposed in the book is the power of mindsets and the idea of mindset interventions.
“A mindset is a belief that biases how you think, feel and act. It’s a filter that you see everything through,” she writes. The way you think about yourself and your achievements after the interview is a part of your mindset. It affects your success in future interviews and professional challenges.
Rejection happens to everyone. You can’t rise to new heights without experiencing it. When you land the perfect job, you are still going to have to deal with rejection at some level. Deals will fall through. Partnerships will not work out. Use this experience to develop resilience. Find the learning, take action and put the unpleasantness firmly behind you.
It’s Your Life. It’s Your Career. You Own It.
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