Career Mantras

Dealing with Interview Rejection

Posted by:   Mahak Kewalramani Date:Jun 17, 2015

Dealing with Interview RejectionWe can all relate to this situation. You work hard preparing for an interview. You go through one or multiple assessment rounds and interviews, building hope with each successive round. You think you were well prepared and whole process went off well. You can already picture yourself in your new role. Yet the outcome is not what you hoped for and a rejection email pops up when you least expect it.

It is easy to get disheartened and demotivated on facing rejection. A job search can be a long and tiring process and it is important to stay positive and keep learning and moving forward with each interview.

Understanding the Hiring Manager’s Psyche

  • A Hiring Manager in an organization generally has a reasonably large choice of candidates for any position (more so in today’s not-too-strong economy). The Hiring Manager looks for the candidate/s who best fit the job requirements in terms of qualifications, experience, skill-sets, culture-fits, salary expectations, notice period , joining time etc.;
  • In today’s world, interview rejection does not reflect on your capabilities. It only implies that your current professional profile and skill-sets do not match with the organisation’s current needs for the position or that there were other candidates who had a better profile-fit for the job. You might even be able to get a job in the same organization if the organisaion has other positions matching your background or, over a period of time, you have strengthened your professional skills as per the organisation’s requirements for the job;
  • It will always be possible for you to apply for and get an assignment in other organizations that have need for profile similar to yours

Here are a few tips to help you get through:

Send a thank you noteSaying thank you may not seem like the very first thing you feel like doing after receiving a rejection, but it indicates that you can handle rejection gracefully. Importantly, it keeps the line of communication with the organization open. There may still be other opportunitiesin the same organization in the future and you do not want to close the door on that. Not many candidates take the trouble to send a thank you note and you will definitely stand out and stay top-of-mind for the effort. Ensure that you thank the interviewer and the HR / Hiring Manager for their time and the opportunity to learn more about the organization. Also ask them to keep you in mind if a suitable position does arise in the future.

Ask for feedbackEvery rejection is an opportunity to learn, grow and move forward. Gaining feedback is essential for your development. If you have applied through a recruitment agency, you are more likely to hear feedback on your interview since recruiters typically ask for such feedback from their clients. If you have applied through an employee reference, there is again a chance that the reference has heard something about what went wrong. If you have applied directly to the employer itself, there is a lower chance of getting such feedback however it is worth a shot. While most employers tend to not share candid feedback with candidates, there is no harm in politely asking for constructive feedback. In the same thank you note you could mention that you would welcome and appreciate any feedback they could share with you. It will also indicate to the employer that you are committed to self-development. If you do hear back, accept the feedback with an open mind without getting defensive. Look for scope for improvement and take these learnings with you into the next interview.However if you don’t hear back from the employer, don’t push further on this.

Reflect, but don’t dwell on itThink back over the interview process and see what you could learn from it. Are there areas where you think you could improve? Were there indications of what was going well and what wasn’t? Were there specific questions for which you could prepare better? What could you do differently next time? Remember that while it is good to take back learnings from this experience, it is important to not be too hard on yourself as well. The aim of reflection is not to find faults with yourself but to identify your strengths and weaknesses and focus on opportunities to improve.

Don’t take it personallyA rejection need not be a personal reflection on you. Your resume was strong enough to get you the interview in the first place so you need not lose hope. There are several factors that go into making a recruiting decision and some of these may be outside your control. Typically, an internal hire moving into the role, a candidate having more experience in the relevant sector, a candidate referred by an existing employee, budget cuts in the company etc. could have cost you the job offer even though you had performed exceptionally well. Don’t fret over what you cannot control and instead focus your energies on the road ahead.

Stay motivated &keep a fresh perspectiveIt is instinctive to lose confidence when you face rejection and this may impact the way you perform in interviews in the future as well. Keep a fresh mindset while approaching each new opportunity. Learn from each experience, positive as well as negative, but do not let negative experiences bring you down. Stay motivated and continue applying to other organizations.

Keep learning and growingIt is a good idea to keep honing your skills. Take up courses in your field of interest. Do some internships, voluntary projects or free-lance work. Expand your professional network. Seek out friends, acquaintances, recruitment firms in your target sectors who can help and guide you with your job search.

Remember, you are not the first one to face rejection, it happens to the best of us. J.K. Rowling was rejected by 12 publishers before her manuscript was finally bought. Steve Jobs was rejected by both Atari and HP. The Beatles were declined by the first studio where they auditioned. In each case, persistence and motivation paid off in the end. Rejection is a part of the job application process. How you pick up and move forward is what will eventually define you.

About the Author:

Mahak Kewalramani

Mahak Kewalramani handles strategic initiatives at She has over 7 years experience in Project Management, Product Management and Business Consulting, with a focus on Technology and Digital Marketing. Mahak is a Dean's List MBA student from the SP Jain Center of Management and holds a B.E. from Mumbai University. She is an avid reader, inquisitive traveler, yoga enthusiast and social media junkie.

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