Don’t think this is a “lemons into lemonade” blog about rejection. It’s the furthest thing from it.
Let me start by telling you what you already know: Rejection sucks. Rejection in the job search process, be it the first interview or final, is the pits. Period. End.
What adds insult to injury is that which passes for feedback — the “advice” you’re given as you discover you didn’t get the job. This, my friend, is what I want to tackle today. Because I see how much effort, energy and emotion is often put towards the words and ideas passed off as “helpful information” once your ride on the interview train has ended. And, frankly, it’s often wasted energy that detracts you from moving down the path to your goal: finding the right job.
Here are 3 tips to keep in mind when someone gives you feedback about why you didn’t get the job:
1. Don’t Assume You’re Being Told the Truth
I use the dating analogy often when talking about the hiring process. Remember what it was like to split up with someone? “It’s not you; it’s me.”
The reality is that often saying the truth can be as uncomfortable as hearing it… and many people will avoid that at all costs. In addition, in our uber-legal, highly litigious society, there can be a reluctance to share the truth for fear of liability.
2. They May Not Know
You know those gut feelings you get about people — good or bad? Do you really need to know why you feel that way? No — you’ve learned over the years to trust your instincts. The hiring process is no different.
You may be a perfect fit for a role but another candidate moves forward in the process (or even gets the job) because the hiring manager just felt more comfortable with them. In the job search business, when asking clients to describe the common thread shared by everyone on their team, most would respond with something along the lines of, “I can’t tell you what it is, but I know it when I see it.”
2. A Choice FOR Someone Else Isn’t Always a Choice AGAINST You
This is really important to remember. When someone else is selected, it doesn’t mean a conscious choice was made against you. The natural place for any of us to go after being rejected is to what we could have done differently. This is all you can control, but it could have nothing to do with why you didn’t get hired.
Is All of This Unscientific and Largely Beyond Your Control?
Absolutely! The hiring process is a sum of its parts: people. And we are a quirky bunch. Put us all together and try to get consensus among a diverse group of people — it’s a wonder any decisions get made at all.
Trying to apply rationale and logic to something as speculative and nuance-driven as the hiring process can, simply put, drive you insane. On top of that, you are emotionally in the thick of things. Being objective isn’t only an unreasonable expectation for you to have for yourself; it’s largely impossible.
So… What to Do?
Instead of reflecting on and dissecting what you’re told (if anything) after an interview, I want you to do two things:
First, capitalize on the opportunity presented (read this past blog I wrote on the topic). Second, reflect on whether you were the truest representation of yourself in the interview. If you were, and you didn’t get the job, then it wasn’t the right fit for you. (Like this thought? Tweet it!)
As much as you have your eyes on the prize (a.k.a. the job) during an interview, sometimes not winning is a blessing in disguise. The downside to getting hired for something you aren’t can be even more devastating in the long run than it is frustrating to be rejected in the job search.