Do you remember what it’s like to be rejected after a job interview?
Most people are more scared of the rejection than the interview itself.
The same goes for presentations in front of hundreds of people – and I’ve been through both situations.
The rejection feels like a shot into the stomach (of your pride).
I know what it’s like to have made it to the interview and then lose it.
Afterwards you fret over what you did wrong, you want to rip out your hair or you want to kick yourself (except there’s no way to do it physically).
It’s from these many experiences and my own work in the career field that lead me to write the 101 Job Search Hacks: A Cheat Sheet for Landing the Job You Want.
After a lovely conversation with Johnny (alias for a real friend of mine) I knew I had to write this article on seven ways to handle interview rejection (and how to survive it).
Get these ready to go before the interview.
1. Give Yourself Time to Grieve
I met Alexa, a newly immigrated mother of one volunteered at the nonprofit I was working at.
She’d been having trouble landing jobs and her qualifications were good except she couldn’t get through the interview.
Unfortunately, she had a major interview before I could properly advise her and it turned out to be a disaster (that and the fact her father had just died).
Alexa was so destroyed in spirit she completely stopped looking for a job.
After spending some time with her family she emailed me to say she was doing better and that when she was ready she’d get back to the hunt.
(Eventually she did land a job a few months later)
Go for a walk to clear your mind.
Do something with your friends.
Celebrate the failure (or use it to spur you to new heights of determination) and then move on.
Yes you heard me – celebrate it, rejoice it and laugh at it.
Three days is usually the magic number for me.
In the past it was seven – except I wasn’t as tough as I am now.
Let yourself blow off some of the steam through violent grieving.
Go to the gym and use the boxing bag (a favourite).
Learn martial arts like me and then shadow box – imagine that you’re inflicting terrible injuries on the cruel and heartless interviewer (not the nice ones).
Learn to play darts or throwing knives (like ninjas) and toss them at a stapled brochure of the company.
Call it “catharsis” or moving meditation (and self reflection).
If you want something more family friendly – spend some time with the kids and partner.
You come to realize that a failed interview isn’t the end all or be all (unless of course you’re in desperate need of the pay check – if that’s the case keep reading for another way to help you out).
2. Avoid Taking Interview Rejection Personally
After being interviewed by someone I respected and knew in an unnamed-for-now field years ago I was dropped from the final pool (I was among the top 10).
Alas it felt like a betrayal.
Eventually you learn to get over it and then you just stop taking it personally.
It’s hard to avoid taking interview rejection personally since we’re emotional creatures given to extremes of love, hatred, lust, envy, jealousy and anger.
The thing you’re going to smash yourself over is that it was something you said or did even with a stellar interview performance.
You should be patting yourself on the back not brooding.
Lets face it – sometimes no matter how well prepared you are, the interviewers just don’t like you.
You don’t click or they don’t click – or both of you don’t click.
Remember the old cliche saying: It’s nothing personal, it’s just business.
Instead take it as a learning experience.
Anyway it may have been good that you didn’t get it – if the interviewers were rubbing you the wrong way it may be a sign that the company would have been your living hell.
3. Stop Thinking Negatively and Stressing Out
Avoid the stressing and brooding over your rejection or mistakes too long.
It can literally kill you in the long run unless you direct your thinking somewhere else.
The stress, rejection, anger and fallout from brooding can actually cause arthritis, heart disease and even diabetes.
Let there be no illusions – your job search is a near full time job in itself.
Being constantly under stress is like having the ocean constantly wearing away at the rock of your soul.
Eventually rocks wear down into little pebbles.
This can also mess up your body’s hormones causing depression which can lead to you feeling constantly tired (a.k.a. chronic fatigue syndrome).
In short, stop stressing out and if you have to think negatively, channel it into determination instead.
Focus the energy outward not inward.
4. Find Out What Mistakes You Made
Some people feel better when they have answers – any answers. It’s that sense of ‘closure’.
Ask the company, person or group what you did wrong in the interview – hopefully by phone or in person.
Once you find out, learn from it and vow never to make the same mistake again.
That’s a good thing to do for the rest of life as well.
Like any good general or shinobi agent you want to learn from your mistakes, fix them and come back better and stronger than ever.
Commit to the ideas of “mastery” – being better than the person you were yesterday (or the average, whichever suits your goals).
With that kind of mindset all the setbacks in life are simply stepping stones to ultimate victory.
You should be grinning after every failure – it’s only a matter of time before you come out on top.
5. Find Another Job Opportunity That Was Better Than the Last
This is one of those really positive, self-motivating ways of getting through rejection.
Find an opportunity that’s even better than the last one and use your past experience to help you land it.
Instead of hunkering down in despair and with your bottle of Jack Daniels you’re taking the initiative to find better and better jobs.
Why dwell on what’s been lost?
There’s ever more to gain.
You focus on the work ahead and write off the failures.
That’s the spirit!
6. Jump Into Learning Something New That Will Improve You
I remember after one failed interview that happened after I got out of university I decided that my resume skills needed to improve.
And I set out to diligently master the art, spending hundreds of hours in training on my own dime.
Eventually I included resume writing as part of my business.
It’s also what caused me to learn about personal branding and how to market others, which I use and continually improve today.
You found out you’re missing some skills, certifications or experience that would have cinched the interview?
Instead of falling into a pit of despair you set out to fix the problem and come back as the new and improved you.
Taking this path means your next interview will be easier and so will the rest of your job hunt because you’ve become that much more hireable.
7. Stay Healthy
If you’re healthy you’ll be able to easily shrug off stress, hard knocks and failure (based on personal experience and the science).
By staying healthy you make sure your happy hormone ratio is in balance, you stay energized and you stay motivated.
In the book I’ll soon be finishing, Part 1 actually gives you more of the easy to understand details about which foods you need to improve your determination, motivation and energy – all things you’ll need to handle interview rejection better than the couch potato.
Another powerful way to stay healthy in mind and handle interview rejection (really any rejection) is meditation – something which I don’t touch on in my book (yet).
And if you’re the type of person who binge eats to handle stress then follow this point and binge on tasty AND brain boosting foods like nuts, fresh berries and pumpkin seeds.
Aim for the less salty or roasted kind if possible – raw is best.
Now you’ve learned seven ways of thinking and doing that will help you get over the interview rejection.
Well some of them could pretty much apply to any kind of rejection – including dating (lets not go there today – anyway, this site doesn’t cover that kind of thing).
So what other creative or effective ways to handle interview rejection are there?
I can imagine something with virtual reality though that might be too crazy.
What do you do when the interview “goes south”?
Leave some comments below because I’d love to hear about them!
In fact if you send them in early enough I would gladly include them in my upcoming book which leads to…
P.S. You’re likely to see these interview rejection survival tips in my eBook/course 101 Job Search Hacks: A Cheat Sheet for Landing the Job You Want.
(Top Photo via Boston.com)