How to: Deal with interview rejection

Finding out you’ve been unsuccessful after an interview is never easy…

But whether you use the experience to improve your interview technique for next time, or you end up figuring out what type of job is really right for you, you might be surprised just how much unsuccessful interviews are actually moving you forward.

So if you’re sick of being told that ‘everything happens for a reason’ (and other apt motivational slogans), here are some more tangible tips to help you ace your next interview:


Focus on the negatives

There will undoubtedly be positives to take away from your interview, but they aren’t necessarily the things you’re going to learn from.

Instead, think specifically about what went wrong, and how you can stop yourself from making the same mistakes at your next interview.

Don’t dwell on every little detail, or think too hard about things which probably didn’t affect the recruiter’s decision. But whether it’s an interview question that caught you off guard, or completely misjudging the dress code, paying more attention to these factors during your preparation will play dividends in the long run.

Remember: constructive criticism is a good thing.

Five things you should never do if you don’t get the job


Do (more) homework

It can be disheartening when things don’t quite go to plan in an interview. But if you’re being honest with yourself, getting turned down by a recruiter won’t always come as a surprise.

Did you really spend enough time on your preparation, for example? Did you do enough research around the role? If the answer’s no, then it might be time to go back to basics and do some more homework.

Use your last interview as a template to guide how you can improve. It will give your research a greater sense of direction, not to mention provide you with some much-needed reassurance before the big day.

And let’s face it, it definitely beats going into interview preparation blindly.

How to: Prepare for an interview

What to do after a job interview


Actually ask what went wrong

If you’re not sure where you went wrong, ask.

Reaching out to a recruiter for feedback will help you highlight the key areas to improve on. They may not always be able to give you a detailed breakdown, but even a few constructive comments could make all the difference when it comes to your technique.

If you’re too embarrassed to call, try sending a follow-up or thank you email after the interview, or as soon as the employer has contacted you about their decision. Either way, seeking feedback and seeing every interview as a learning experience demonstrates a professional attitude.

It could also help separate you from the competition and convince the employer to hire you, should they still be sitting firmly on the fence.

Post-interview checklist

How to: Ask for interview feedback


Start your job search from scratch

It might not be your interview technique that’s letting you down. You might simply be applying to the wrong jobs for you.

Instead of applying for every attractive vacancy in your sector, think about whether the jobs relevantly match your background and experience. If the position doesn’t suit your skills, you’re only wasting the recruiter’s time if you’re invited to interview – not to mention your own.

So make sure you put everything you’ve learnt from previous rejection to good use. If you feel the last interview taught you a different or new direction is needed, then narrow your search.

After all, experience (positive and negative) is the best way to get the job that’s right for you in the long run.

View all available jobs now

Eight signs an employer is not the one


Put your skills down on paper

Did you give your skills and experience the attention they deserved during the interview?

Being able to voice what makes you a good fit for the role is absolutely vital if you’re going to sell yourself to your interviewer. It will also allow you to take comfort in the fact you’ve covered all bases.

Become more aware of your abilities by creating a list of your core strengths that you think represent you best. This way, you’ll build on your confidence on a personal level, and will also be able to get across the real you as much as possible in your next interview.

Once you’ve made your list, try matching it to the job description to see how closely you align – and use those similarities to help you impress.

What are soft skills?

Hard skills vs. Soft Skills


Don’t take it too personally

Finally, never take interview rejection as a personal attack.

Remember, aside from the specific work-based requirements, a recruiter’s judgment is primarily based on first impressions. And, unfortunately, their decision is driven by the fact that they can only choose one person.

A rejection doesn’t necessarily mean they didn’t like you, it just means that someone else might’ve been a slightly better fit for that particular role.

Maintain a positive mind-set throughout the process, and use everything you’ve learned to help make you stronger at your next interview.

Improve with every interview, and you’ll have nothing to worry about.



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3 comments on “How to: Deal with interview rejection

  1. Mak - July 6, 2017 at 11:34

    The only people who have seen all the candidates you are competing with are the people on the interview panel !

  2. Stuart Banks - December 11, 2017 at 17:48

    Sometimes at an interview you are possibly going to receive a negative reaction from those on the interview panel if you are much older than the youthful presence in the workforce they perceive as key to success in their fast track system of training in 6 weeks and other candidates have prior experience of having worked recently in the same industry sector of a similar role. They will be very unlikely to show this preference of their ideal candidate match for the role either during or after the interview, even if the candidate they rejected displayed an excellent performance during the interview. But it becomes fairly obvious when these factors were the only real difference between the 3 selected for interview, where 1 was hired for the role of home installer and the other was recommended for hire to their main contractor for network installations.

  3. Grumpier Old Woman - June 21, 2018 at 17:47

    There are so many reasons why you won’t get truthful feedback after rejection that on balance I think it’s a waste of time asking, particularly if you are an older candidate, from an ethnic minority or are an immigrant. No-one’s going to be THAT truthful. There’s often only a hair’s breadth between candidates’ skills and experience and it’s really true that the successful candidate often just comes across best on first impressions. A personality contest!