How to Recover from a Job Rejection

Posted 05/10/19 Amber Barron

Amber Barron, Accounting & Finance Recruiter, Vaco Memphis

Amber helps accounting and administrative professionals in the greater Memphis area take the next step in their career. Outside the office, she’s a wife and mom to two boxer dogs (Kaos & Loki). She loves reading fantasy books, going to Disney World and soaking up the sun at the beach!

Job interviews have a funny way of playing with emotions. Some days, you’ll walk out of a meeting thinking you rocked it. You felt you answered all the questions confidently and dazzled the interviewers with your perfect balance of charm and expertise, only to later learn they “went another direction.” Other times, you may feel you flopped, but you get an offer. No matter how much we prepare, an interview may not pan out the way we envisioned.

For those of us blindsided by a rejection, it’s difficult to accept that maybe we did something wrong. But with a little humility and self-reflection, you may realize the interview you theoretically rocked may not have been that stellar. Maybe you went blank on some questions, lacked energy or simply didn’t click with the interviewer. Instead of feeling frustrated or defeated, rest assured it’s not the end of the world. You will bounce back.

Key takeaways

Good or bad, interviews are learning experiences. There are several lessons to take away and apply to the next opportunity. First, reflect on your preparation and performance.

  • Did you thoroughly research the company and its people?
  • Did you ask the interviewer(s) pertinent questions?
  • Did your body language show you were engaged?
  • Did you comprehensively discuss your experience?
  • Were you dressed professionally or in line with the company’s culture?

If you answered “no” to any of these questions, figure out what you would do or say differently at your next interview. Don’t be shy, and ask a friend to rehearse a job interview. Practice on your poise and review anticipated questions.

Second, think about how the interviewer interacted with you. In the moment, you may feel things are going smoothly, but in hindsight, their reaction may not have been as positive as you thought.

  • Was their body language or eye contact inviting or closed off? Consider whether they looked you in the eye, crossed their arms or turned away instead of facing you head-on.
  • Were they genuinely intrigued by your responses and engage in conversation, or did they swiftly move on to the following questions?
  • Did their questions extend beyond your general experience and dive deeper into applicable scenarios surrounding your expertise?

Reminders for next time

Don’t be intimidated to ask the employer for feedback.

  • Was there an area in your field they felt you lacked experience?
  • Are your skills not as strong as they preferred?
  • Did your personality not fit the company culture?

They may not always be willing to offer constructive advice, but your inquiry will show your willingness to learn and evolve, and it could turn a negative impression to a positive one.

Receiving a rejection after a “good interview” may feel discouraging, but it’s important to learn from the experience. Nobody is perfect. No matter how stunning your resume looks or how your interview performance goes, a rejection is nothing out of the ordinary. Don’t dwell on it and beat yourself up. Use it as a learning experience to improve. Pick yourself up, be confident going forward and don’t give up. You got this!