It’s always really tough when you find out that you didn’t get the job. And not many of us will be lucky enough to be offered every job for which we apply. It’s very important if you don’t get the offer you hoped for, that you avoid the temptation to crawl under the nearest stone! There are important things to be learnt from the experience. Face up to what has happened and do your best to learn from it. This gives you the optimum chance of a different outcome next time. You might like to read our earlier post on the subject too.
What if you got rejected right at the start of the process?
If this was after application form, then your chances of getting any feedback from the prospective employer are very slight indeed. This leaves you with limited options.
Plough on with the next application to a similar employer. The closing date may be approaching and you don’t want to miss out. You can probably save time by recycling a lot of the application form. Stop! The last application was rejected and you may not be able to reapply to that organisation. Your list of preferred employers might be relatively short, don’t risk sending off an application to another. You need to understand as fully as you can what went wrong last time.
Ask your friends or family for some thoughts on your unsuccessful application. This probably isn’t a great idea either. They’re likely to want to be affirmative and may sympathise with you, scandalised that you were rejected. They might make you feel better but this isn’t very likely to move your job hunt forwards.
You could ask the opinion of one of your careers consultants. No prizes for identifying that I think this is a better idea. Your careers consultant will be familiar with what is being looked for in your chosen occupational area and should be able to give you some informed thoughts about your previous application. Sometimes the feedback will be that the application looks great and that there is no obvious reason why you did not advance. Often you will be able to get some real insight into what might have gone wrong. In the latter case you can “fix” things before you make another application.
What if you made it to first interview but no further?
If you got rejected after a telephone or video interview, or even after a first face to face interview, it is often difficult to get any meaningful feedback. This can be annoying. In order to get to this stage you have had to invest heavily in working for the interview. Some employers will not give you any feedback, others simply tell you that “there were other better candidates”. On one particularly memorable occasion when I asked for feedback and enquired what I could have done differently I was told: “Well, you could have killed the other candidate.” I was left speechless and certainly don’t advocate that as an acceptable approach!
If you can’t get any feedback then try to be as honest as you can with yourself. Did you stammer and stutter? Were there questions you couldn’t answer? Were you so nervous that you couldn’t be yourself? If you can identify your weaknesses you can try to do something about them for next time. The practice of this interview and your honest reflection on it should improve your performance for the next one.
And if you made it to end stage?
By this time most employers will give you honest and full feedback. Be prepared to ask for it and listen to it! You might be feeling heartbroken that your dream hasn’t worked out, but you will probably have other interviews ahead of you and you need to take every step to maximise your chances of succeeding next time. So what questions could you ask to prompt effective feedback? Here are some thoughts:
Could you tell me how I could have improved my performance?
Were there any aspects of the interview where I performed particularly well or badly?
Could you be more precise about exactly what you were looking for?
What more could I have done to demonstrate my suitability for the role?
Would you welcome an application from me in the future?
The last question is really important if this really was your dream job. The employer owes you an honest answer and you should rely on what is said. If a reapplication is encouraged think how this may fit into your current and future plans. If the answer is “not to bother applying again” then move on. Your future might be different from the one you had envisaged, this does not mean that it will be diminished. In a few years’ time you might be really pleased with the way things worked out.