“We would like to offer you the job”, are those fantastic words that everyone wants to hear after an interview.
You may be even more desperate to hear that wonderful sentence if the interview process has consisted of several interviews, assessments and whatever other hoops the potential employer has made you jump through.
I haven’t met anyone who succeeded at every interview – anyone in that position has likely not interviewed much. Therefore, at some point, you will likely be told “Sorry, we went with someone who was a better fit”, or some other unhelpful and vague response.
But what if you keep getting rejected after numerous interviews? How many times can you hear this without feeling awful? Perhaps you are trying to get started in your career but can’t because you keep getting turned down. There is nothing like repeat rejection to test your resilience to the max.
For those entering or in the acting profession, they have been told since day one that they will have to get used to rejection. That they will have to keep focused and remain determined to succeed. That success is a very small chance. But most of us aren’t in that position – no one tells you that if you are trying to find a job in sales for example. Don’t get me wrong, rejection can actually be good for you! (We will write about this in more detail in a future post), but chances are, when you keep getting told no (or worse no answer at all), you will start to feel less optimistic and maybe much worse.
The feedback: How many times have you been told no and come off the phone wondering what you had just been told? Unsure if the feedback helped you at all? Were you clear what you would do differently next time? Be ready not to give in to your first reaction of thanking them for their time and putting the phone down as quickly as possible.
Firstly, bear in mind a lot of employers don’t want to spend a lot of time giving feedback. It’s human nature to feel awkward letting someone down in this situation so a lot of people just want to convey the bad news and get off the phone. But feedback is so IMPORTANT to the interview process and an employer should really put the effort in at this stage and not rush through this bit, casting someone aside so quickly.
My feedback on average is approximately 20 minutes as I feel responsible to give something back – if I can help someone next time, I am absolutely committed to supporting this process at feedback stage. After all, if you have put in the effort to preparing for the interview and spending your time meeting me, the least you deserve is some constructive feedback as to why you didn’t get the job.
Here are some common examples of feedback:
“We just went with someone who was a better fit for the team”.
What does that even mean to most people? Does it mean they just couldn’t see you fitting in or thought you wouldn’t be able to get along with a difficult member of the team? Or is it just a vague excuse because of another reason that they can’t bring themselves to tell you? Most people if they are honest, are letting their bias come in to play and not seriously considering the diversity of the team. It’s the trap of choosing candidates who are like you rather than what they bring to the table.
Next time ask them to kindly expand on what they mean. Don’t help them with an answer, just simply ask if they could be more specific as to what made them think you wouldn’t be a good fit for the team or what did the successful candidate have that was the advantage?
“We felt that you probably ‘waffled’ too much in your answers so it was hard to get a clear picture of your experience”.
You might say, “Yes, I worry about doing this, especially when nervous. Can you tell me which answer in particular I did this with so I can prepare a better response next time I am interviewed?”. It’s worth asking as it may be only certain questions that you drifted off on so it will definitely help you to know which ones. (Chances are the question they asked you, will be asked again by someone else in the future).
“You didn’t answer our questions effectively enough”.
It is very tempting to say, “I understand, thank you”, but what you should be asking is which questions and was it all of them? Can they give you some advice as to how the successful candidate answered to help you in the future? Specifics matter and make sure you write it down.
“You did a great interview, we just had to make a decision on two very strong candidates”.
Whatever. You may have done a great interview, and maybe you didn’t. This is just an employer’s way of saying you weren’t the best. Try and get a better answer – “That’s great to hear but obviously the successful candidate just had the edge on the day. Are you able to tell me what specific factor swayed your decision?”
These are just some examples – of course, many employers following the law and skilled in recruitment will give you the constructive feedback you need. But people are still people and the chances of hearing some of these vague responses during times of your career are high. And this type of feedback will not help you at all for your next interview. If you keep getting to interview stage and not succeeding, there is a strong chance you need to improve a part of your interview skills but I promise you, none of the answers above in themselves will tell you which part and you will therefore continue to make the same mistakes over and over again. Repeat mistakes at interview = repeat rejection.
Remain 100% positive your next interview is successful, but if you do happen to hear a no, take the constructive approach and get a better answer. You never know, you may end up interviewing there again.
Keep going – the job that is meant for you is around the corner.