How to deal with interview rejection

In 2011 Oprah Winfrey was the highest paid female in the entertainment industry. She remains the richest self-made woman and only black female billionaire.”50b6f05e-efc7-4d70-b430-32c0c0129334-original

Now go back to 1975 Baltimore. Take a walk to WJZ-Tv studios and you might just witness Oprah being demoted and being told that she won’t be anchoring the news any longer.

Amazing isn’t it? We’ve all been rejected at some point. We all know how it feels. What’s important is how you deal with rejection, particularly when searching for a job.

Most people in employment will have experienced an interview. In an ideal world, we’d give our best in every one and be offered every position that we apply for. Unfortunately, it doesn’t happen like that and in many cases, rejection can be the overriding feeling throughout the process of finding a job until you are made an offer.

So, how can we deal with that? How do we ensure that – like Oprah – we use our experience to take us on to bigger and better things?

Be Positive: You’ll have learned something in the interview. It may be a difficult question that you’ve been asked, a question that you’ve not heard before or you may have been given feedback about your presentation skills – anything new that comes up will give you an opportunity to improve next time. Do also view the rejection as a sign that you’re pushing yourself. If you’ve never been rejected, it could be that you’re living in your comfort zone. When you push yourself, you don’t always succeed but you always get a little closer to your end goal. Finally, think of a mantra that will help you when you don’t get the job you went for, something along the lines of ‘Failure is part of the road to success’ will help to keep you motivated.

Don’t Let Rejection Define You: It’s easier said than done but don’t let your self-worth depend upon the opinions of others. Returning to Oprah for a moment ‘“I don’t want anyone who doesn’t want me.” Just keep looking for that boss you deserve, the one who will take you because of who you are and wants to see you progress. It doesn’t feel like it sometimes but they are out there if you look hard enough!

Learn From It: The most frequent reason for not getting a job is technical knowledge. For example, you may not have an in-depth knowledge of a particular piece of regulation or know enough about your market. If that’s the feedback, great! You know what you need to do – learn! Perhaps you could take a course to demonstrate your knowledge and appetite for learning. Your answer of ‘I don’t know’ soon becomes ‘Interestingly, I have been reading a lot about this subject and I discovered…’

Don’t Just Take the First Job You’re Offered: Of course, if the job is perfect don’t hesitate. However, going back to my earlier comment about self-worth – you will find a job that is perfect for you. Don’t worry about that, just don’t allow a few people saying no to cloud your judgement. I’d recommend keeping a checklist of ‘must haves’ ‘would be nice’ and ‘no ways!’ – list all of the things you need, would like and don’t want to do. Complete straight after each interview and a day later to ensure that your views are the same, without the same level of emotion. That way, the ball is in your court. You’ll be thinking ‘It only scored 50% of my must haves so I’m not sure I’ll take it if they offer’. Then, if you are offered you’ll have topics to negotiate on. If you don’t get offered, well, who cares – it only hit 50% anyway.

So there, you have it. Dealing with rejection throughout a job search is like most other things in life. You learn from it, you adapt to it and you maintain a positive attitude to ensure success. I guess I should leave the final words with Oprah:

“With every experience, you alone are painting your own canvas, thought by thought, choice by choice.”

Paul Miller
SENIOR CONSULTANT – GOVERNANCE
T: +44 (0) 207 337 8824
E: paul.miller@hfg.co.uk

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