How to handle rejection in an interview

There are three distinct types of rejection in an interview, all of which I have experienced firsthand. None of them is a fun pill to swallow and each holds a particular place in my mind as a quasi-traumatic event.

First type of rejection

The first type of rejection is the “We just don’t have a place for you right now.” This type is the business equivalent of “It’s not you. It’s me.” You know the line is a lie because they would not have an interview if they did not have a place, so you know that what the employer is saying is “For you, there is no place at this establishment.”

It is an underhanded rejection and that can make you mad. While we all have fantasies of telling an employer what-for when we hear this type of line, you must insist that you never indulge in this fantasy. Instead, you should graciously thank the employer and attempt to compliment his establishment with my parting words. In keeping a calm head, I kept myself in the race, despite my initial rejection.

Second type of rejection

The second type of rejection is the “You do not seem to have the qualifications we demand.” You can treat this rejection as only a partial rejection. The employer is saying that you “seem” to not have the qualification, and ought to see that as a challenge to impress upon him just how capable you are for the job.

For me to immediately accept that what he is saying, it shows that you are the type of person that gives up when faced with any sort of rejection. This quality is not looked upon kindly by employers and so you must avoid accepting the rejection immediately. This does not mean you should assume that by persisting in my attempts that you will succeed in winning the job. However, just as the rejection above, by asserting my positive skills and proclaiming myself capable, all while keeping a clam demeanor and positive attitude, even if ultimately overlooked initially you can keep myself in the race if another candidate falls through.

Third type of rejection

The third rejection is a more harsh than the previous two. This rejection can happen for multiple reasons. Sometimes an employer believes you to be incompetent either for the job or in general. In these cases, they often will be kind to your face, but overall you are capable of noticing that they were not pleased with your interview. This rejection is one where you find it is often best to accept defeat, but at the same time you can use the opportunity to further knowledge of what has made a poor interviewee.

I have had three such interviews in my life, and in all three it was difficult to keep my composure as once I realised the interview was lost I had to ask the masochistic question “If I may ask, what was it about my interview that may have lost me this opportunity.”

This is by far one of the more difficult situations as it makes both you and quite often the employer a bit on-edge. Remember that when you ask this question you are inviting criticism. No matter how confident one is, it can be difficult to sit and allow someone to pick you apart as a person. The employer is in a position of power and does not have to be kind; but it is your right as a job-seeker to ask such a question. You will then have to withstand the worst of my perceived shortcomings and poorly executed interview skills.

About the Author

Charles Brian is a self help coach who writes at his popular self improvement blog; Hack My Modern Lifestyle. He is passionate about helping others like you in career issues like time management tips and office politics.