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What to Do When You Don’t Get the Job

Posted on Thursday, August 23, 2018
when you don\'t get the job

You submitted your application.

You got called by a recruiter.

You passed the first phone screen interview.

Then you were called in for an in-person interview.

You thought it went well!

…But then you received the dreaded email a few days (or, most likely, weeks) later:

Thank you for taking the time to interview for XYZ Position. While we were impressed with your qualifications, we have ultimately decided to go with another candidate at this time.


So, you didn’t get the job. Now what?


1) Allow yourself time to be disappointed, but don’t get stuck or give up.

You know that popular proverb? When the going gets tough, the tough get going.  In our society, we’re taught to be positive – to keep going, to keep our eyes on the prize. And that’s a good thing, of course. Positivity goes a long way.

But if you feel disappointed or upset and ignore your feelings, these feelings could simmer and boil over into resentment. Are you feeling disappointed or upset because you didn’t get the job? That’s not surprising! Admit it – and accept your feelings. It’s normal to feel like that. And it’s okay.

But don’t get stuck or give up. Let’s be honest; job searching isn’t fun. In fact, it can sometimes be quite disheartening – especially if you keep getting rejection after rejection.

Unfortunately, if you get stuck or give up altogether, a job most likely will not magically fall into your lap. You need to keep going. Hold onto some grit.

Know you will get a job eventually; it just might take some time.


2) Try not to take it too personally.

If you get rejected for a job, it can be easy to blame it all on yourself and think you did something wrong in the interview. Do you find yourself racking through your mind and trying to remember everything that you said or did that may have affected your job prospects?

This has some merits, but don’t get too bogged down. A lot of the time, it has nothing to do with you.

Maybe you were too late to the game and the interviewer already had someone in mind before they interviewed you. Maybe they decided not to hire anyone for the position after all. Maybe someone was promoted internally.

Maybe it was a simple matter of someone knowing someone else; networking is a huge factor in job searching. Or maybe someone else had a few more years of experience than you.  

Try not to take it too personally. You may have done really well, but there may have been factors you couldn’t prevent that affected your chance of getting the job.


3) Reflect on your job interview and identify ways to improve next time.

The fact is, though, no one is perfect, and it’s possible that you may have flubbed a part of your interview. Everyone makes mistakes.

Maybe you weren’t as prepared for your interview as you could have been. Maybe you forgot to bring copies of your resume. Maybe you were stumped by a hard question. Maybe you said the wrong thing

Continuously racking your brain to figure out what you did wrong can do more harm than good. But at the same time, not reflecting on your interview at all won’t help you move forward.

So, instead, find the happy medium: reflect on what happened. Some people keep a work journal where they keep track of their interviews – what they said, what they didn’t say, what they can do better next time.

If that’s not your jam, try talking to a mentor, career coach, a trusted friend, or a member of our team and getting their feedback.

What’s important is to identify potential opportunities for improvement the next time you have an interview. You could practice more, for example. Do a few mock interviews. Go to one of OhioMeansJobs Lucas County’s free interview seminars (did we mention they’re free?). Find examples of common interview questions and write or type out your answers.

View this as a learning opportunity and use it to your advantage.


4) If possible, send a follow-up email to the employer and ask for feedback.

If you have the recruiter or hiring manager’s email address, one proactive thing you can do is respond in a timely manner and politely ask for feedback. You might be a bit surprised to find out that this is something that job seekers do. It is – and it can be very valuable in your job search.

As Kat Boogard at the Muse explains in her article about this topic, asking for feedback after you don’t get the job can provide a few benefits. First, you’ll get insights into improving your job search that you may not get elsewhere. Second, you could learn something about yourself that you didn’t know before. And third, you’ll show the interviewer that you’re honestly seeking to improve and grow in your career.

This last benefit could potentially help you the most. If you impress the interviewer, they’ll most likely remember you. This could work in your favor if you apply for another job at this company sometime in the future. In fact, they may even recommend you for a different job in the future. (But don’t hold out for this. Odds are, you’ll just get an email reply.)

Now, you’re probably thinking: This sounds like a great idea and all, but what do I actually say in a follow-up email? Good question!

Boogard gives this helpful example in her article:

Hello [interviewer name],

Thank you for the update. I enjoyed meeting with you and the other members of your team, and I really appreciated the opportunity to learn more about [company name].

If possible, I’d love some feedback about my interview skills and overall qualifications. I’m always looking for ways I can improve, and I would really value your insight as I continue my job search.

Thanks again for your time, [interviewer name].

Best wishes,
[Your name]


5) Get back on the saddle again.

It’s time to get yourself back in gear and continue your job search. It may be tough. It may be time-consuming. You might get rejected again.

But a job opportunity is out there. Apply what you learned, aim to do better next time, and keep pushing forward to success!