A failed interview does not equal a failed career says Julie Perrine
The application process was a breeze. The initial interview went well. You began to picture yourself working for this company. Maybe you even started mentally decorating your new office. Now all that’s left is to wait for the phone to ring or the email to ding, heralding the arrival of an official job offer.
Except the news wasn’t exactly what you expected, or worse yet, no news came at all.
You didn’t get the job.
You’re not alone. Every administrative professional has been there at some point in his or her career. What matters now is where you go from here, and how you can recognize (and learn from) your experience before your next job interview!
After the Rejection Email
When the bad news comes, it’s normal to have a range of feelings – everything from sadness to confusion to anger. Take a moment (or even a day) to process these feelings before replying back. The key is to wait until you get your tone right so you don’t make things worse.
Once you’ve composed yourself, then you can compose the email. Keep it simple and respectful. “Thank you for taking time to interview me for this position. Please keep my resume on file, and keep me in mind for future opportunities with your company.”
I always encourage people to reach out to recruiters or company personnel on LinkedIn, as well as follow the company pages on your social media platforms. Maintain an “ambient awareness” of what kind of job openings they post, the personalities of the executives and higher-ups, and the general culture of the organization. These steps will allow you to increase your knowledge base and be the first to know about future opportunities.
If the Rejection Never Comes (But Neither Does a Job Offer)
All too often, the company will maintain radio silence after an interview. This can create a ton of anxiety and internal conflict. On one hand, they haven’t said no, so you cling to hope. On the other hand, it’s been a long time, and that hope is fading with each silent hour.
Don’t sit idly by waiting for a call that probably won’t come. Keep seeking other job opportunities. Step up your admin game by working on your professional portfolio. Register for a class or volunteer for an event that you can add to your resume.
I’m often asked if it’s appropriate to connect with a recruiter or interviewer on social media sites like LinkedIn after the interview but before a decision has been made. My advice? Hold off for a bit. If you haven’t reached out well before the interview, I’d say wait until either a decision has been reached or an ample amount of time has passed. You don’t want to look like you’re desperately clutching at an in!
On the other hand, if you haven’t connected with the interviewer online prior to the interview, then let them know as your interview wraps up that you’d like to connect with them on LinkedIn if appropriate. Be sure to follow through and initiate the connection invitation as soon as you can. Don’t take it personally if it’s not accepted right away, though. They might not want to give you the wrong impression either. And it’s likely they will wait until a firm hiring decision has been made.
What Went Wrong?
The biggest question many ask after a failed interview is “Where did I go wrong?” Sometimes, the answer is as simple as “You didn’t.” A more qualified candidate could have surfaced. The company may have decided to promote from their own workforce or relocate an employee from a different area.
Most of the time, however, there’s…something. Something you didn’t have that another candidate did. Something you could have done that you didn’t. Something you shouldn’t have done, but you did.
A great question to ask at the end of every interview is: “Is there anything – from an experience and/or skills perspective – that you don’t see in me that’s necessary for the person who will ultimately get this position?” Their answer can provide insight to their ultimate decision, and maybe even tell you what you need to do to be successful in future interviews.
If you didn’t have the foresight to ask that question in the interview, you’re completely within your rights to (respectfully) reach out to your interviewer after they’ve turned you down for the job. Send an email asking for feedback about the interview, and what ultimately made them decide you weren’t the right person. Some will respond; others won’t. Even if you do get a response, it’s likely to be a bit sugarcoated – most people don’t like cutting others down!
The only thing you can rely on is yourself – your own memories and honest appraisals of what you did (or didn’t) do. Perhaps consider the following:
The next logical question is “Now what do I do?” The solution: keep trying! A failed interview does not equal a failed career; in fact, learning from your mistakes will make you a better candidate in the future!
My three keys to interview success are: practice, practice, practice! Recruit your friends, family members, or colleagues to stage mock interviews, and video your responses to their questions. Repeat this process over and over again until you finally get it right.
I have some personal experience with this tactic. In the midst of the 2008 economic downturn, my friend decided he wanted to leave his job. Mutual friends said he was crazy – with the economy in shambles, why leave now? My friend persisted, and eventually asked me to do a mock interview with him.
He did well on nearly every question, except one: “Why are you leaving your current position?” The words were all correct, but he just couldn’t keep the grumbling tone out of his voice when he answered.
I kept springing the question on him out of nowhere, time and time again. The bitterness persisted, so we continued to practice. And as soon as he was able to answer that question out loud – smoothly, coherently, and with a professional tone – his next interview was successful! Practice truly does make perfect!
Very few interviewers score the job every time they interview. However, a missed opportunity is simply a learning experience. Do an honest self-assessment using some of the tips shared here. Enlist the coaching and mentoring of experienced colleagues who can help you better prepare for more successful interview outcomes. And ultimately you will land the job you’ve been preparing for!