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Great job interview but no cigar!

Didn't get the job? Here's how to stay positive and move on from the post-interview blues, according to Tom Howe, managing partner, The Jefferson Group

Tom Howe, managing partner, The Jefferson Group
Tom Howe, managing partner, The Jefferson Group

We’ve all been there and no matter how you dress it up, whenever you want something in life and the cards don’t fall in your favour then it still feels like a punch to the gut!

The same applies when going through some of the toughest job interview processes for what seems like the perfect job.

You know the company inside out and you’ve spent hours honing your interview technique. You’ve planned your journey into work and you even know where you’ll eat lunch and when the situation calls for it, your local drinking establishment where no doubt you will befriend the bar staff.

You’ve invested a lot of time and energy into this interview, which makes it particularly hard to hear those dreaded words: "Unfortunately you’ve not been successful on this occasion". And what can make it worse is that the feedback you receive is so woolly that you could knit your own Christmas jumper this year!

By all means feel disappointed, feel angry, but then move on. Because next time you may well find yourself the proud owner of the job you were always meant to have. The most important thing is to stay positive and never give up.

Focus on the positives

You may not have been offered the job, but you did well nonetheless. Not only did you beat the competition to get to the interview stage, which in this current market is an achievement all on its own, you also performed to the best of your ability. And that in itself is something you should be proud of. Learn from the experience and use it to your advantage in the future.

Keep applying

It’s hard to pick yourself up and start all over again. But that’s precisely what you need to do. As you continue looking, be selective about where you apply. Make sure each role you apply for matches your skills. And don’t be afraid to reject any roles you feel aren’t suitable but make sure you do that from the outset. Nothing worse than being put forward for a role, getting an interview and then pulling out. Sours relationships and doesn’t do you any favours. So, take a deep breath, roll up your sleeves and carry on with your job search.

Learn from the experience

The two most common reasons for not being selected at interview are lack of technical knowledge and poor interview style. Make sure you know your subject inside out and can speak with authority when answering technical questions. Competency-based interviews are becoming more common and recruiters are looking for candidates who can give highly detailed answers. Interviews are a skill and with every one you attend you are getting better and better.

Get feedback

You may be offered feedback as part of the interview process. If so, you should take them up on their offer. If it is not offered, then you should ask for it, making sure you let the interviewer or recruiter know how important it is to you. If interviewed directly then following up with an email after the interview demonstrates that you want to improve, are still committed to the role (or a similar one in the future) and shows true professionalism. The same applies if you’ve gone via a recruiter. Remember they are there to help you, not hinder you.

Say thank you

It might not feel like something you want to do, but taking the time to thank the relevant people for giving you the opportunity will help you stand out from the crowd. And if you’d like to be considered for future roles at the company, then let them know. If the company is recruiting now, it’s more than likely that they will be looking for candidates just like you in the near future.

So don’t feel disheartened. Use the energy and emotion you feel after that rejection to your advantage. We’ve all been there. And if you haven’t been there, can you please reveal your secret to the rest of us? Thank you.


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