job interview

When You Didn’t Get the Job: How to Turn Rejection to Your Advantage

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Rejection is never fun, whether we’re talking love or careers. But it’s a necessary part of the process at some point in most of our lives. And while it’s healthy to admit disappointment, people have an inborn tendency called “negativity bias” that causes them to over-focus on rejection. We spend hours overanalyzing what we did, said, or wore in an interview, trying to figure out how we could have changed the outcome. But there’s a more productive approach.

Don’t Dwell on It.

Not getting the job is a normal part of the process. Expect it to happen, then when it does, move on. There are always other factors at play besides your own actions, and just because you weren’t a good fit for the role, doesn’t mean you are a failure. Chalk it up to good experience and move onto the next interview.

If you have a hard time getting past a “no,” and tend to get down on yourself, put together a mental highlight real. Think of a few of your favorite successful moments —  projects you rocked or challenges you overcame. You can innoculate yourself with it anytime a rejection threatens to send you down in the dumps.

Ask for Feedback, and Use It.

After an interview and before you hear back about any result, send a professionally-worded follow-up email thanking the interviewer and asking for any feedback they may have, positive or negative. Use constructive criticism to polish your interview skills for next time. If your technical skills were the issue, learn how to take technical assessments more effectively or consider additional classes or certifications. If you’re going through a recruiter, they can obtain this feedback for you. Value that feedback and use it to make yourself better.

View It as Part of the Process

When interviewing for a new position, even if it’s with the company, you always dreamed of working with, treat it as a process, not a means to an end. Sometimes, you’re at the whim of the interviewer’s gut feeling or even their mood. Don’t take it too personally if you’re unable to get feedback.

You’re going to submit resumés and interview until you land a job, and that likely won’t be the first, second or even tenth one. Remember, when a hiring manager tells you, “It’s not a good fit,” it probably wasn’t a good fit for you either, no matter how great it seemed on paper. Keep going until you find the one that is.



Photo by Tim Gouw on Unsplash