As you leave the job interview, you get that overwhelming feeling that it didn’t go as well as you expected it would. You get confirmation of this a day or two later with the dreaded rejection letter or email telling you that you were unsuccessful on this occasion.
After you shake your head in disappointment and let out a long sigh of frustration, a thought occurs to you – what would you do if you could do it all again? What if you had a second chance at that job interview – how would you do things differently?
Unfortunately, science isn’t at a stage where it has invented a time machine that will allow you to go back to re-live your interview over again. However, you do have the knowledge and experience of that job interview to help and guide you in the future.
OK, so you missed out on that particular job opportunity, but you will still find yourself in the exact same position again in the future with another job interview, so why not treat this as your chance to do everything over again. This time you will have a chance to do things differently. Even if you are not successful at your next job interview, you should then frame it as a do-over, another chance to do things differently each and every time you attend an interview.
Learn from the past but don’t dwell on it
Your failed job interviews are not necessarily a waste of your time. You can learn a lot from your experience and apply that knowledge to your next interview to improve your chances of success the next time around.
It can be a very emotional process to acknowledge a job interview rejection, especially if it was a job that you really wanted and would have enjoyed doing. It you think rationally about this, you can allow yourself to feel some disappointment, but you should never take it personally.
Remember that there will be several more rejected applicants that will be feeling just as bad as you do right now, and they may have been a good match for that job too! Just because you were not chosen does not mean that you were not a good fit for the role.
Go back and pick up some pointers
Find out more useful information to help you in the future by contacting the hiring manager or interviewer. Be polite and thank them for the opportunity of the job interview and ask if it would be OK to call or email them to discuss your performance during the interview. Many companies are open to this and it also shows them that you are committed in your job search activities. This can paint you in a favourable light and may lead to you being invited in for an interview in the future should another position become available.
If you are offered the chance to discuss your interview performance, ask why you were not selected and find out if there is anything they think you could improve to help you in the future. Remember to take plenty of notes during your conversation so you can refer back to them and address each one systematically.
While you have the chance to make a good impression, re-emphasize that you are very interested in working for the company and that you would like to be considered for any future job opportunities that may become available. You never know – you may be lucky! It is certainly worth trying.
Review you own performance
When you get some quiet time, mentally review your interview in your mind. Try to pinpoint the moment that you felt things were not going particularly well or were not working in your favour. Was it a weak spot in your company knowledge? Were you struggling to answer a question that you didn’t quite understand? Did you feel you lacked sufficient experience in some aspect of the job that they prize more highly than you do?
Many job interviewers like to mix it up with unusual or surprising questions that are outside of what you would expect in a regular interview. Were you asked a question that threw your concentration off? If so, make a note of that question and any other questions that you struggled to answer. Think about how you could have answered these questions differently. Work out some good answers for these types of questions that you can use for future interviews. The chances are that questions such as these may well crop up again, especially if you are interviewing in the same job sector.
Sometimes it can be external issues that caused a problem rather than your actual interview performance. Did you find yourself inappropriately dressed on arrival? Did you arrive late because of heavy traffic or public transport delays? Have a plan in place to combat these things in future.
Make sure you arrive early for your next interview. You could always go for a cup of coffee or practice some breathing exercises in the spare time before your interview slot. Research the company to find out their dress code. You will want to dress to suit the job environment and to make you look like you would fit in well with everyone else in the office or department.
Research the successful candidate
You may be able to discover who was appointed to the job you applied for by looking on the company website or through their LinkedIn social media site. Check out the successful candidate’s bio and see if they have skills, qualifications or experience that you lack. This is a great way to find out the type of skills and work experience that similar companies will be looking for. You can then work on improving your resume to highlight these skills better or work towards gaining more of these skills through further training.
It would be great to get a second chance at a job interview if things didn’t work out well. But by framing each new interview as another chance to be successful, you are realising that the past cannot be changed, but your future can! Don’t waste your next opportunity by repeating past mistakes. Focus on changing your approach to make your next interview a great success!