“You didn’t get the job?” Don’t you hate when people ask that question right after you told them you didn’t get it!? It’s okay to pout a little, but it’s not okay to get depressed and let your discouragement keep you from being optimistic about the next interview.
I actually cried the first time I didn’t get a position I thought I was destined to have. After the third time, I sulked around the house. Did I come off as too confident, I wondered. Did I not smile enough? Did I not get hired because I was a woman, and a black woman at that? I asked myself a dozen pointless questions like those in between checking my dwindling savings account. Well, the questions themselves weren’t pointless, but my dwelling on them and bringing myself down in the process was. I stopped muttering about how life “just isn’t fair” after my mother kindly let me know that I wasn’t the only person praying for a job.
Understand that when you’re competing with people for a position—or anything in life for that matter—someone isn’t going to get it. Unfortunately, sometimes that someone may be you. You may not have been chosen for the job for any number of reasons. It might just be that you were great, but someone was better qualified than you. You can’t help that. Maybe something about you reminded the interviewer of a person he or she doesn’t like—and yes, this really happens.
The bottom line is that you shouldn’t view a rejection as an insult or barrier to your achievement. You don’t know what the universe has in store for you. Just focus on how you can do better next time. The following are various reasons employers give for not offering someone a position:
- Poor personal appearance
- Overly aggressive
- Inability to communicate information clearly
- Lack of interest and enthusiasm
- Lack of planning for career; no purpose or goals
- Nervousness, lack of confidence and poise
- Overemphasis on money
- Unwilling to start at the bottom
- Lack of tact and courtesy
- Lack of maturity
- Negative attitude about past employers
- No genuine interest in company or job
- No eye contact with the interviewer
- Application form is incomplete or sloppy
- No sense of humor
- Late for interview
- Failure to express appreciation for interviewer’s time
- Failure to ask questions about the job
- Gives vague responses to questions
If you really want to know why you didn’t get the position, ask the person who interviewed
you. Be very tactful and explain that you’re inquiring so that you can be more successful on your next interview. While many employers may be reluctant to respond, seeking feedback can’t hurt you.
After taking a day to debate whether or not I should ask a woman who had interviewed me why I didn’t get the job, I finally picked up the phone and called her (email is best, however, so you don’t put the person on the spot). I had applied for an entry-level position as an editorial assistant for the children’s books division at a major publishing house. I was qualified for the position (in hindsight, overly qualified), had what I considered one of my best interview experiences, and the woman who interviewed me actually told me how impressed she was with me before I left the interview. So naturally, I was dumfounded and upset.
The lady told me the only reason why she didn’t choose me was because she thought I really wouldn’t like the job. She said while I was interested in working on books, I had more of an interest in working on non-fiction or adult fiction, not children’s literature, and she believed that people should work on what they really love. She then said she would notify me when an opening came up in a different division, and would personally recommend me, which she eventually did.
I thanked her for her feedback, and after I got off the phone, I realized she was right. I wanted to work at the company (which is why I applied), but I was not sincerely interested in working on children’s books. In fact, when I initially applied for the position, I immediately thought about how if I got that job I would try to transfer to a different department in half a year. Someone who loved children’s books deserved that job, and I hope the person she hired loved the position. The job you need and deserve is closer than you think. Wait for it.