Dealing with Rejection after a Great Interview

By: Keira Simmonds

You have been waiting for days for the hiring manager to give you a call. You feel as though you had a really great interview. You were confident and had all the right answers. The supervisor laughed at your jokes, and they seemed to just get you. All that was left to hear was, “We would like to extend you an offer.”

So when the phone rang and you recognized the number, you hurried to pick it up. With a smile on your face, you exuberantly answered it, and then you get the dreaded news. They didn’t select you.

If you were anything like me, you had an instant feeling of inadequacy. While they are giving you their spiel, you listen halfheartedly while you run the entire event over in your head, searching for what went wrong and what you could have done differently. Then you console yourself because your assumption is that the other person was better. You feel frustrated because you missed the opportunity to really sell yourself when they asked you that great question. You may even throw some anger in the mix because they missed out – and maybe they did. But after it all, the answer is still the same. They didn’t choose you. So what happens next? How do you move forward?

Try these five steps:

Step 1: Be Gracious.
Although you are swirling with emotions in that particular moment, thank the interviewer for their time. Ask them to keep you in mind for future opportunities. Remember that out of the many applications they received, they spent the time to bring you in for an in-person interview. Many did not have that chance. Being gracious is a trait that is memorable, and you do not want to burn any bridges that may help you in the future. If you do not get a chance to do it while on the phone, follow up with a brief email expressing your gratitude.

Step 2: Acknowledge.
I would never want to tell you that feeling disappointed, rejected, hurt, angry are wrong feelings to have. They are your feelings, and you are entitled to them. So feel them, but don’t wallow in them. To help you move past those feelings the next step is crucial.

Step 3: Reframe.
You may never really get to know why you were rejected. Quite frankly, there are a ton of reasons that the outcome turned out this way. Perhaps there indeed was a better qualified candidate, or maybe there was an internal budgetary or political decision that prevented them from moving forward or perhaps someone internally opted for the position. The reasons could be endless and none of them are in your control. However, the fact that you got to the interview means you were someone they thought they could hire. So instead of dwelling on what went wrong, reflect on what went right. When did you feel most confident? What questions did you nail? Then tell yourself, keep doing those things.

Step 4: Take Stock.
It is so easy to take this experience personally. However, reflection is the best teacher. If you want to move forward in a position of strength, reflect on the experience and extract the lessons. Perhaps there was a new question you have never been asked in an interview before. Maybe you found out about a current industry problem when you were listening to the supervisor’s commentary. If it makes you feel better, you could even ask the hiring manager if there were any areas they think you could improve. Once you have extracted all the lessons to be learned, trash the rest.

Step 5: Keep looking.
Sometimes feeling rejected or failure leads to paralysis. So while you wallow in a situation that is beyond your control, you may want to disengage in the process entirely. Don’t let this be your narrative. In this age of digitization, there are many job opportunities listed on any given job search site, at any given time. Sure, not all of them not right for you, but chances are there are a few worthy of your consideration. Remember, all you need is one “yes.” What if the next one is the golden ticket? You will never know, if you do not apply. Do not self-select out of your next job opportunity. Remember, you cannot get hired, if you do not go through this process.

Besides no one gets offers from every single interview. So keep Interviewing. You will find the position that is right for you.

back to career tips & buzz >