Interview Coaching for Times When You Don’t Get the Job
discouraged man

Jim prepared for a job interview for weeks, researched the position and the company, tried to anticipate questions, practiced answers to anticipated questions, and spent way too much money on new clothes.

He prepared for that interview like it was the last interview he was ever going to have. He absolutely needed the job.

Then he found out that he didn’t get it. He was devastated, angry, and resentful over the lengths he had gone to to get the job.

That night, while walking through a crosswalk a car passed a little too close to him. Filled with anger, he kicked the door of the car as it drove by. The driver stopped, but probably saw that Jim was unbalanced. He drove off without a confrontation, but it could have been very ugly.

This was one of lowest moments in Jim’s career.

It’s never easy when you don’t get the job, but we have to learn to cope with career rejection—preferably without kicking the doors of passing cars.

Here are some of the things I told him:

  1. Don’t tell yourself “It was meant to be” or “Things happen the way they are supposed to happen.When something doesn’t go our way, it’s comforting to say that events occur the way they are supposed to. But these platitudes take away the ability to evaluate your performance, your qualifications, and everything that contributed to the outcome of the interview.

If you assume there was nothing you could have done to have gotten the job, and that it was fate, the same logic could extend to your next interview.

So, don’t assume there was nothing you could have done differently. Analyze your performance, review your resume, but…

  1. Don’t analyze too soon. Give yourself some space. While kicking car doors isn’t a normal reaction, being bitter, angry, hurt, or disappointed certainly is. When you view a situation through the lens of these emotions, you are not seeing clearly—and because of that you are either wasting your time or risk reacting to inaccurate conclusions. Either one is a bad idea. So, remember….
  1. Analyze your performance and your qualifications, not the mindset of the company or hiring manager. I have sat in hundreds of interviews in my career as a hiring manager. The idea that there is some objective “best candidate” is false. The best candidate depends on a host of factors, and you, as a candidate, will never know them. Spending any time wondering what the hiring manager was thinking is a waste of time. Instead, focus on yourself, and take what you learn to the next interview. And…
  1. Don’t give up. One week after the car-kicking incident, Jim was called in for another interview. That call turned his career around, and he is very happy doing what he does doing today.

No matter what, don’t quit. If you try and learn something when you fall short, and focus on yourself and not the hiring manager, the economy, or any other external factor, you will find success.

  1. Don’t lose your temper and kick a car door. Self-explanatory.


Beth Kelzer
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