It has happened to us all: you left the interview feeling great. You connected with the interviewees well and your answers seemed to resonate with them. Yet instead of a job offer, you got the dreaded email that said, “Thank you for your time, but we have gone another direction.” No matter how well the interview went or how politely the email was written, rejection never feels good. Please do not take it as a personal attack or let this setback reduce your confidence. There are so many reasons you may have not been offered the job after a great interview.
1. An internal candidate was chosen.
It is tough to beat a good, internal candidate. Why? Because the company already knows that person and their potential. Time and resources have already been invested in training and growing that employee. Some organizations are forced to advertise a position to the public and conduct interviews even if there is an internal candidate they have been grooming for a role. So, even if you were a stellar candidate, you may have been somewhat doomed from the start. The important thing to remember in this situation is that the hiring manager might be saving your resume for another opportunity or even passing it along within the organization—you never know.
2. The pool was competitive and someone edged you out slightly.
Due to the pandemic, the job market is going to be tough and most likely will be for some time. When the economy is struggling, we see a lot of “gray collar” workers—people working in jobs they are overqualified for just to keep a paycheck coming. You may have been a great candidate, but the company saw the opportunity to get an experienced professional at an inexpensive rate.
3. The company saw your strengths but thought you still had room to grow.
I always encourage my clients to apply for jobs even if they don’t feel they meet all of the qualifications. Why? Because companies write job descriptions with the perfect candidate in mind. A position description is almost like a Christmas wish list. Very rarely will they find someone who has everything they want.
With that being said, if you apply for a job and have about half of the desired qualifications, sometimes you get the job and sometimes you don’t. If you’re wondering why you didn’t get the job after a great interview, go back and review the position description again. If there were some gaps between their ideal candidate and your qualifications, perhaps they saw your potential but want to give you more time to grow. Don’t take it personally—use it as your guide for professional development.
4. There were budget limitations.
I’ll reference the economic downturn again. Times are tough. Things are still changing day to day. The company may have thought they had the resources to hire and then, suddenly, they lost a large client. Budget limitations will be a large factor in both hiring and negotiations in the coming months. Again, don’t take it personally. It could just be a business decision that prevented you from getting a job offer.
5. You didn’t provide tangible evidence of success.
I have had the opportunity to be on numerous hiring committees. What typically sets a good interview apart from an outstanding interview is the candidate’s ability to provide tangible examples and stories of their professional experiences. If you can prepare for your greatest professional accomplishments in story form, you will be able to easily weave those into the conversation letting your personality and experience shine.
How to move forward.
Rejection is never easy, and growth is never comfortable. Instead of getting down on yourself, try your best to learn from this situation. Here’s how.
1. Get feedback.
Do what you can to get feedback from the hiring manager or interview panel. This will keep you from wondering what went wrong and help you prepare for future interviews.
2. Don’t let the rejection define you.
Whatever you do, do not let this define you or shake your confidence. It kills me when I hear the words, “I just suck at interviewing.” No, you don’t. And, even if you did, you can get better at interviewing—I promise.
3. Keep moving forward.
If you weren’t offered the job, it wasn’t the right fit for you. Accept that, believe that and keep moving forward. The right job is out there. You will be prepared and ready to rock the interview when it does come. Mindset is everything!
Loren Kelly is a career coach, college instructor, and working mom. Empowering women and young students is her passion. Learn more about her at https://lorenkellycoaching.