No one likes rejection. It’s probably the most exasperating part of the whole job search. You create the resume. You compose the cover letter. You pass the phone calls. You take a whole day off for your on-site. And then when all is said and done, you get the big “No Thanks.” It happens to everyone at some point their career. Even this guy. But the best candidates that come through my office don’t let their rejections get the best of them. They learn from their past experiences, and they try to improve with every at-bat.
Here is a plan to tackle your negative feedback and turn that next interview into an offer:
If you’re given feedback over the phone, take notes. You’ll need them for the next steps. It’s also important to note: If you ask someone for feedback, they’re doing you a favor by giving you their time and attention. Don’t repay the favor by arguing with them. Instead, thank them and ask questions. You can always decide later, after steps 2 and 3, whether you want to incorporate their feedback.
Address every point your recruiter shares with you. Having a point of reference as to who’s giving the feedback, or what they’re referring to, will be helpful in the next step. Do you remember shuffling through papers while talking about your last boss? Which interviewer asked that algorithm question you got wrong? (If you can recall which interviewer you answered a specific question for, even better. You can figure out what type of interviewer they are and how to deal with them next time around.)
For some types of criticism, this is easy. If you answered a question incorrectly, go back and study! If you lacked general knowledge on a specific topic, go study! You may never be asked that same question again, but boy will you kick yourself if you are.
Sometimes a criticism has nothing to do with your technical skills at all. This type of feedback can be harder to hear, and more difficult to interpret. You have to ask yourself:
What sort of impression am I giving?
● Sometimes we are perceived differently than we see ourselves. Perhaps you thought you were giving a great justification for a particular answer, but the interviewer felt you were defensive. Instead of writing off that feedback, think through how you could have replied differently. There are many approaches to a problem; you’ll never please everyone. But if you can learn to adapt for a broader audience, you will likely find benefits that reach far beyond the interview process!
● If you truly believe an interviewer mislabelled you, then examine how they might have gotten that impression. Did your nerves get in the way of your confidence? Work on some relaxation and visualization exercises. Was your energy low after the second or third interview? Interviewing is like going to the gym; it takes a lot of practice to build stamina. So go out and flex that interview muscle. Or perhaps it really just wasn’t a good fit for their culture. Keep in mind, “Culture Fit” is the most frequent piece of feedback I receive from hiring managers at companies of all shapes and sizes. I’ll write more on these two awful words soon, as I think they deserve a post of their own. For the eager job seeker, it can be worse than getting no feedback at all.
Which leads me to...
4. Brush it off.
Reflection is great, but at the end of the day, an interview does not a (wo)man make. You’ll have another crack at it (or for my fellow Millenials, probably many, many cracks.) When you find the company for you, you won’t be worrying about the interview. You’ll be sitting at your new desk, working on your new project, glad the search is over.