How not to take interview rejection personally…

I bet you were drawn to that title, weren’t you? Go on, admit it – you went for the interview, you didn’t get the job, and you were blown out. You told yourself that it wasn’t you, it was them. You told yourself you didn’t really want the job anyway – the location was wrong, you had no chemistry with the interviewer (your would-be new boss), the hours didn’t suit, money too low, brand not strong enough. You also told yourself that it wasn’t personal. They just didn’t… want you. You told yourself that there was an internal candidate that pipped you to the post, or that there was someone else with more experience. Or less experience, and you were too senior… But did it hurt? If you cared just one little bit, then the chances are that yes, it did. Even momentarily, until you assured yourself of the reasons why it wasn’t going to be a good job, it hurt.

As a candidate, I can tell you that hand on heart, being rejected for a role can be painful. Maybe it’s been a bad week anyway, or a bad month – or hell, even a bad year! But being ‘told’, being emailed, or worse, being left hanging with no decision or feedback, can be downright demoralising.

So how can we stop feeling the rejection quite so much?

Perspective. The candidate market place is a minefield. Most interviews that I have been to, have all had different styles. Different types of questions, structure and of course, different people doing the interviews. Sometimes, interviewers will make snap decisions based on how they are feeling, without even realising it. It can often be out of your control. If you gained feedback from an interview that your answers were too detailed and that you went off in tangents (due to nerves no doubt!), then in your next interview, you may well go in the opposite direction; general answers that are short and sweet, but that left the new interviewer needing more… As an experienced interviewer and recruiter, I would say that this would really be up to the interviewer to steer the conversation and ask appropriate probing questions! Don’t get me started… the mind starts to run over time, gets tangled up and can feel messy.

After the initial feelings of rejection, start to put it into perspective. Ask yourself – what did you learn? Did you research and prep the company enough before you went along? Was there anything else you could have done, to help yourself; role plays; reading the job description thoroughly enough; did you turn up on time? This is a learning and growth opportunity.

Don’t get it muddled up with past rejections. Stay in the moment. If this takes you back to the time when you didn’t get picked to play for the school football team, then separate it. The mind has a habit of sticking to negative experiences and it seems to create a fuzzy felt scrap book collection of them, all on the same page, when things like this happen. Try to be aware of this and put it to one side, if you can.

Truisms. If you haven’t already done so, get your pen and paper out, and start writing a list of truisms. Things you are good at – your strengths and achievements. Don’t give yourself a hard time. Rejection is part of life, and we need to accept that. You should write as many truisms as you can think of, and always read them through when feeling low.

Don’t see this experience as a way to prove or validate who you are as an individual. If you have a need to feel accepted, to feel wanted and needed, then don’t use the interview process to get those needs met!

Dance. Play music. Exercise, take a long walk, shower… see friends. Talk. Let it out. Share. Read. Garden. Do whatever it is that you know makes you feel happy, to get that brain of yours refocused and energised, and thinking back on track. For some of us, the feeling of rejection following an interview can be a big deal. Remember you are not alone. Most of us have been there and lots of us are still there….

Maybe some career coaching can help. Luckily, we know two birdsoup birds who are ready to pick you back up again. And they may even dance with you too.

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