Handling Rejection

The fact is, that during the span of your career, you’ll probably be rejected for a number of positions you interview for.

It’s important not to take this personally.

Sometimes the reasons for the rejection are obvious. The position wasn’t what you thought it was when you applied. You had a bad day and didn’t present yourself as well as you might have. You were “avoidably” late that day due to bad planning.

Sometimes the reasons are less obvious. Perhaps the company was legally required to post the position publically, but already had an internal person lined up. Perhaps the company was in an uncertain economic situation and suddenly eliminated your job before you could ever get hired. Perhaps your personality conflicted with the interviewer.

Between these two extremes are the areas you can work on and improve and that’s really what we’re interested in here.

Did you arrive on time or a little ahead of schedule?

If you find you are consistently late to interviews, start planning ahead. Make sure you know where the interview is being held. Find a map of the route on MapQuest or a similar site if you aren’t familiar with the area.

As a last resort, make sure you have a contact phone number for the person you are supposed to be meeting with so that you can call ahead if you get stuck in traffic or a bus doesn’t show up. A little planning can go a long way.

Did you take a moment to make yourself comfortable before starting the interview?

It can really help an interview if you make an effort early on to get comfortable. If you are offered a cup of water or a soda and you would like one – say yes politely. If your interviewer just wants to make small talk when you start the interview, go with the flow and try to be honest and open while talking. A good interview should generally be a good, stimulating conversation.

Always make sure you position your chair so that it’s in a comfortable position to face the interviewer(s). Some interviewers will try little tricks to make you uncomfortable in order to test you (they’ve read too many books on how to interview). Show them their tricks don’t rattle you.

Were you aware of your body language during the interview?

People rarely scrutinize your every move. One of the exceptions to this is during an interview which is probably why people dislike being interviewed so much. They hate being examined.

Experts reckon that 55% of communication is visual while another 38% is vocal (intonation, voice modulation, etc.). When we prepare or think about an interview, we tend to focus on what we are going to say. This represents only about 7% of communication.

When it comes to a job interview, the interviewer is going to use every message, both verbal and non-verbal to make a judgement. You can’t fake body language and shouldn’t try, but you can watch things such as slouching, avoiding eye contact or shaking hands.

Did you take several copies of your resume with you in case the interviewer(s) didn’t have a copy on hand?

Quite often your interviewer will have had to make time during their busy day to meet with you. This means they sometimes leave your resume on their desk or with an HR manager. It can be really helpful if you take a few copies of your resume along with you. This will give the interviewer something solid to work off and allow you to steer the interview somewhat (because nobody knows your resume like you do).

Did you speak with confidence during the interview?

People who know what they are talking about generally speak more confidently than those who don’t. If you find yourself on shaky ground every time you interview, you may be applying for the wrong jobs.

One way around this is to learn as much about a job and/or an industry as possible. Learn the lingo and job-specific terms used by people in the industry. If you are familiar with the concepts and language of the job you are applying for, you are far more likely to be considered as a viable candidate. It is amazing how some people will go to interviews for jobs for which they have no knowledge or expertise. Part of an interviewer’s job is to sniff these people out.

Were you aggressive during the interview?

Interviewers don’t generally like interviewing overly-aggressive people. While you may see your aggressiveness as assertiveness, your interviewer may see it as a sign of a person incapable of being a team player.

Know your industry. If you’re a salesperson you are expected to be much more aggressive than a receptionist or accountant. Be mindful – Type A personalities were in vogue in the 1990s but recent trade articles have argued that companies are now recognizing the value of the team player again.

Did you manage to elaborate your strengths?

You should be able to illustrate your strengths during the course of any interview without it sounding strained and like you are reading from a teleprompter.

Think about situations in your Work History that illustrate your strengths.

How did you handle any articulation of your weaknesses?

It’s always difficult when answering questions about your weaknesses. Generally you need to find weaknesses that illustrate how you are overcoming issues or learning from your experiences. If you fumbled while answering a question like this — think hard about finding something else to respond with.

Analyzing your experience after an interview will help you improve your technique. Remember to accept as many interviews as possible early on in order to practice your spiel and learn how to answer questions. Rehearsals at home and in front of friends will also improve your confidence and the fluidity of your delivery.

Did you e-mail or mail a thank you note?

Often overlooked is the common courtesy to thank the interviewer for their time after the interview has concluded and you return home.

In truth, this thank you really serves an ulterior motive. It keeps you in the interviewer’s mind. If the interview went well, your thank you will remind the interviewer of your meeting together, and may lead to some immediate action on the part of the interviewer.

Regardless – it’s important to recognize that the company and this official of the company took the time to consider you. A quick thank you note will address this.