What Happens When You Don’t Get the Job

Finding out you did not get the job can be disappointing, especially if it was a job you really wanted.

The news can be even more disheartening if you’ve been looking for a job for a long time and received several rejections.

Most people will tell you to “accept it and move on,” which is the right thing but much easier said than done.

Here are a few thoughts and suggestions that might help you through this difficult phase:

Analyze your interview performance

Try to obtain constructive feedback from the interviewer if you can. For example, not long ago, in response to a candidate asking, I told her that she might consider not relying on her notes too much as she came across as scripted and not spontaneous. She appreciated that feedback and said she would adapt in future interviews.

I suggested to another candidate that he gives fewer examples from his volunteer work and more from his paid work experience. I felt this would have been more effective in demonstrating his skills. He understood how this could improve his job interview performance in the future.

Often an employer will not provide feedback, but that shouldn’t stop you from doing a self-analysis to determine if there is anything about your answers, dress, impression, or questions that you could have done differently.

But don’t eliminate the possibility that you might have done everything perfectly and that there was a better-qualified candidate who got the job.

Do not react negatively

When someone does provide feedback, even if you disagree, always accept the information with an open mind. Thank the person for providing it and never react angrily or start to argue. They will not change their mind and you will appear immature and unprofessional.

Here is an example of an appropriate email I received from a candidate after advising her she was not getting the job. Note the level of professionalism she displays:

Dear Gerry,

I really appreciate your call and the feedback you provided me. While I was obviously disappointed that I was not selected, I am confident the company has chosen the right candidate for the job. Please do keep my resume on file in case you find a good match for me in the future. It was a pleasure meeting you.

Best regards,

[Name withheld]

Network with the interviewer

If you make a positive impression on the interviewer, even if you didn’t get the job, they might be able to help you with your job search. Connect with them on social media and stay in touch via the occasional email. Who knows? Maybe the person they hired will not work out, or perhaps another opening will arise.

Accept it and move on

Don’t carry interview baggage with you. It will paralyze you and prevent you from being at the top of your game in future interviews. Instead, keep your momentum going by approaching new opportunities with enthusiasm and rigour. I believe there is the right job out there for everybody. Just keep at it until you find the right one for you.