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What you can learn from job rejection

Kate Allen, Managing Director, Allen Associates

Getting rejected after a job interview can be severely demoralising. If you’ve made it this far, it’s likely you dedicated time towards preparation, and perhaps you’d even started picturing your new life with the company.

Now, it might feel like those efforts were in vain. They say what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, but it’s easy to lose confidence when the ‘unsuccessful on this occasion’ email lands in your inbox.

However, don’t wallow in your sorrows yet - this is by no means the end of the road. In fact, this is where most people’s careers begin (other than those who were somehow born with impeccable interview skills, that is.) There are positives to be gained and lessons to be learned that could boost your chances of succeeding in your next job interview.

It’s not personal, it’s business

Following a job rejection, it’s only natural to feel bitter about the company - particularly if the interview was an unpleasant experience or you committed considerable time in preparing for it. If you’re really holding a grudge against them, you might even be tempted to take it out on their Glassdoor page to warn future applicants of your experience.

However, revenge is rarely a good solution and it certainly won’t advance your job search. Try not to take it personally and remember, you were still selected over potentially hundreds of other candidates who never made it past the CV stage.

Pat yourself on the back and move on to the next opportunity.

You are more than your CV

Selling yourself to a stranger is never going to be the most comfortable situation, but that doesn’t mean it has to be devoid of all emotion. Your prospective employer expects a strong and passionate sales pitch, not a live reading of your CV. In your next interview, avoid second-guessing the employer and trying to be the person you suspect they are looking for.

Instead, try to relax, be yourself and don’t confuse enthusiasm for unprofessional behaviour. Your employer is seeking someone who is genuinely interested in the role and a good fit with their workplace culture, so step out of your shell and show them why that person is you.

The truth hurts (but you need to hear it)

Unsure of what went wrong or why you weren’t selected? Don’t hesitate to ask for feedback on your overall performance. If you worked with a recruitment consultant, they should be able to advise you on which areas could have been improved by liaising with the employer on your behalf. If you applied directly, just drop an email to the interviewer and request some feedback. It might feel like an awkward conversation, but you can only grow from your mistakes if you learn what they are in the first place. The majority of employers understand this and will usually be happy to provide you with useful feedback. The majority of employers understand this and will usually be happy to provide you with useful feedback.

It’s a two-way street

As well as pitching yourself to a potential employer, an interview is a chance for the company to sell themselves to you, so don’t be afraid to put them on the spot at the end of the meeting. Employers will almost always encourage you to ask questions as they expect a potential employee to want to know everything before making a commitment. Not only is this an opportunity to learn more about the company ethos, their expectations and the opportunities that come with the role, but it demonstrates to an employer your interest in the position. Before your next job interview, dedicate some time to researching the company thoroughly and draw up a list of questions based on your findings.

Practice makes perfect

It goes without saying that the more you practice your pitch, the more confident you will be in your interview. Once you have rehearsed a number of specific examples from your past experience, you will be able to comfortably call upon them on the day and tailor your pitch for varying audiences.

It’s easy for an outsider to say there are plenty more fish in the sea, but the truth is they’re always right. Try to stay positive, keep practising and remember that rejection is just a vital part of the process. This just wasn’t meant to be, and that could be for the best.

For 20 years, the Allen Associates team has been helping employers in Oxfordshire secure the talent they really need. Can we help you? Click here for more information.

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