How To Deal With Rejection After The Final Interview?

And the Winner is?

Even movie stars don’t always get to finish first. Michelle McCarthy and Jessica Chastain wanted to win an Oscar this year but Octavia Spencer won instead. Were they excited when they were nominated? Absolutely. Were they disappointed or upset when they lost? I’m sure they were. Did losing that one award result in them changing careers? Of Course not.

Being invited to the final stage of an interview process is exciting. Making it to the final interview is like being nominated for an award. You feel proud that you made it this far. You let yourself imagine starting your new life in this great job. Unfortunately just like the Oscars there’s usually one winner for a job and losing totally sucks.

Runner Up

When it’s down to a few candidates the competition is fierce and the candidates are strong. Whatever happens, being runner up is an awful feeling.

You don’t get a silver medal or a fancy trophy. You just get a phone call saying they chose someone else who was a little stronger and a better match for the role and company.

What are you supposed to do now? Cry, yell, throw something, or give up? I would never have thought I’d write these words but we can actually learn something from movie stars in this case.

When Michelle McCarthy lost she didn’t cry or seem upset, at least she didn’t on television. She put on a fake smile, clapped, and showed her support for Octavia. They key point here is that you should stay calm and maintain your professionalism.

So why are nominated actors and actress’ on their best behaviour? It’s because the award show is broadcast to millions of viewers. More importantly they don’t want to appear unprofessional and ungrateful. It’s an honour to be nominated for an Oscar.

It Really is An Honour

People forget that it really is an honour to make it to the final round of interviews. If you made it this far you probably beat 50 other candidates. Think about this, there are only about 2 or 3 people in the same position as you. That is, speaking directly to VP’s/Directors/hiring managers who will continue to have vacant roles in the future. Even when you’re not a suitable candidate for this particular role, if you impress them they will think of you for another role or a when a role opens in the future.

So stay cool, maintain your professionalism, and keep in contact with companies you really want to work with. Especially if you’ve made it to the final interview stage at one of them.

It’s Hard To Choose

It’s actually really difficult for employers to decide on one successful candidate. From my experience most employers would also love to hire the runner up but can’t for various reasons, mostly financial. I’ve noticed that if the runner up continues to show enthusiasm to work at the company they end up getting offered a role within 6 months. Most of the time the runner up is not available because another company has already snatched them up!

Prepare Yourself to Lose

Not everyone can win and you’re usually going up against the best in the industry. It’s not the end of the world when you don’t get the position. Life will go on and it usually all works out anyway. Of course it’s easy to say this now. You won’t feel that way at the time.

Go in with confidence when you get invited to the final stage of an interview process. You need to believe in yourself and give everything you’ve got. When the interview process is over (you’ve sent your thank you letter right?!) prepare yourself for the worst. Being confident during the interview is key but take a some time to really think about how you did. Think about whether you really are perfect for the job or if the job is even perfect for you.

Most people think they did great during the interview but we all know that’s not true. You are the only one who knows the truth. You are the only one who know’s how well you really answered each question. What the body language was like from the interviewers and what kind of feedback you got along the way.

Most interviewers will be honest and tell you that you don’t have the exact experience they are looking for. Maybe you don’t have experience in one of the industries the role requires but everyone knows you can learn and pick things up during the first few months.

Dream Job or Just the Perfect Job Right Now

Often people tell me the job they didn’t get was their dream job. It’s interesting to note that I rarely hear that before hand. I never hear from friends that they saw their dream posting and that they’re confident they’ll get the job. In reality they applied to a dozen jobs. Only after they get invited to interviews do the jobs turn into their dream job.

Too many people get overwhelmed by the invitation to an interview. They can’t even think straight. They’re only thinking one thing, leaving their current job.

The Grass Is Always Greener

Most people decide to search for another job when they are not happy with their current situation. There’s no need to look for work when you’re happy with your current employment situation. People just get too excited about the interview that they forget to even look in depth at the job and the company. The excitement of the interview overwhelms them and they forget to figure out if this is actually a good move or not.

Be Humble

It’s nice to feel wanted and that’s how you feel when you get invited to an interview. You feel special. You’re proud of your resume, your work experience, and you secretly like that feeling of knowing not everyone will get invited.

It feels good to be wanted by another company. People forget they aren’t actually perfect for the role or have the greatest interview skills.

All I can suggest is that it’s important to stay humble at the final stages. Sometimes recruiters will knowingly bring in a terrible candidate to make another candidate look better. Just remember that you’re not the only one who is being interviewed. You are not the only person that the interviewers seemed to like.

Candidates also forget to use this opportunity to network. Yes you want to win but there is a good chance you won’t so what’s your plan B? Are you going to storm off and act like a child because you didn’t get the job? I sincerely hope not although I’ve seen it enough times to know some of you will do this.

Be sure to take the names and connect with the top dogs who make the decisions throughout the whole interview process. If you play your cards right these are the folks who will remember you and recommend you for another role. You never know, they might introduce you to another company and open more doors for you than you ever dreamed. I’ve seen this happen too.

At the End of the Day

Losing doesn’t feel good but it’s not the end of the world. You tried your best and gave it your all but it’s just not meant to be. If you continue to go through life with the same drive and enthusiasm that you brought to those interviews then I’m sure you will land your real dream job soon.

Be honest with yourself and always, ALWAYS apply and interview with other companies. Don’t stop your job search just because you had one good interview.

9 thoughts on “How To Deal With Rejection After The Final Interview?

  1. September 26, 2012 at 5:18 pm

    Hey Dorothy – which of your blogs do I copy to a young patternista who is in Paris to find ‘the dream job’ being faced with “need minimum 10 years pattern experience” ?

    1. September 28, 2012 at 7:57 am

      Hi Lois,
      How exciting for her! I would suggest the post titled ‘How to Deal with Gaps In Your Resume’. What I think is relevant is the section on the Survival Job. She is going to have to earn money so she will have to find something else and perhaps volunteer at the company that won’t hire her. She needs to show them how talented she is and how serious she is about working there. Following your dream is sometimes an uphill battle. It’s not going to be easy and she just needs to show people that she will do anything to work and do what she loves. Hope that helps and say hi to Richard for me.

  2. George
    September 28, 2012 at 2:21 pm

    Hi Dorothy

    It’s nice to have you back again! I’m sure your time with the Olympics was awesome.

    It’s been a year in my current job, and I’m already fed up! My boss is a psycho-micro manager who can’t make straightforward decisions…all the work I do ends up in a rigorous clearance process that ultimately gets completely changed. I’m good with the changing part, but it’s not like we sit down to go through the changes so I can get a feel for the process/logic…it just gets changed! And my direct manager, who reports to the head boss is also at a loss even after almost three years working for the head boss…it’s a mess! There’s no logic or proper communication. I don’t even have a clear idea of what our bigger objectives are in order to make sense of the work I’m doing. The head boss makes all the decisions, even at the most minor level so that he/she is always completely control…it’s insane!

    The team has grown and doubled in size in just a month…we don’t have set roles or job descriptions (wasn’t made aware of this until after I accepted the offer and started working). It’s just so tedious at this point and driving me insane. To top it all off, office politics are at a high – everyone is on one big ego trip. There’s no room for growth or development!

    This is within one department of a larger company..I’d like to move to a different department with different managers who work differently to the management I’m under now…

    Any advice? What do you think of the situation? Am I right to feel fed up? I just want out! What do you think is the best step?

    1. September 28, 2012 at 2:41 pm

      Hi George,
      It sounds like you had enough. Are you sure staying in the company and just moving different departments is the answer? Do you know for sure that other departments have a different or better management structure and culture? If I were you I would stick around but start applying and networking outside your company. How would your current manager feel if you told them that you were interested in applying or transferring to another department? For an internal move you usually do need to notify your current manager. In any case, I would try to stay professional and go above and beyond. You need to figure out what your role/responsibility is so you know how to sell yourself to another company. I would take a few weeks and focus on your work and what you bring to the company. Let other things slide of your back and only worry about your future and what role you actually want to do. I know you’re fed up and just want out but if you interview right now with that attitude you will look desperate and unprepared. Take a few weeks/months to really find the positive in your work so you can leave without burning any bridges. Hope that helps and good luck.

  3. George
    October 11, 2012 at 1:21 pm

    Hi Dorothy

    Thanks for the advice – I really value your opinion and your blog!

    I do want to ask another question though which pertains to my earlier comment on this post about my current job situation.

    I’ve been working on a major project for my team since joining over a year ago. Nine months into the project, a new manager joined the team and had been assigned to oversee the project which I continued to play a major role in, until its completion. After the completion of the project – which was a nightmare btw – our department head strolls in a few days later with a present for the manager (who only joined three months ago and hasn’t spent that much time on this project), thanking the new manager for all their work on this project. I didn’t get anything except for a “oh well done to you too btw”.

    In the same week as the above incident, we received a new joiner on our team, who falls under the same manager as mine and works in the same division of my team.

    There is an event coming up, and it’s been in the works since before the new colleague joined. Our manager had told us (myself and the new colleague) earlier in the week that we were free to take part in the event and after following up with him about what our roles would be on the day of, he tells me that actually, there’s no need for me to show up because now the new person would be there and there’s more than enough people to handle the event.

    I think this reinforces the poor management style that I’ve been facing for some time now. I’ve diligently worked throughout this past year and have showed enthusiasm for the job at hand and that I think outside the box and add value. In fact, I’ve had this feedback from my manager and our department head.. I do feel now that I’m not being valued enough in return and that has been highlighted by the above incidents that I just described, in addition to my earlier comment on this blog post which describes the chaotic work environment I’m in.

    What are your thoughts on this?

    1. October 11, 2012 at 1:45 pm

      Hi George,
      It sounds like they value new members of the team over you. I would take the hint and start applying to other companies especially if your direct manager agrees with you about the management style and how unorganized and unclear things have become. If you continue to stay there you will just become more and more bitter. Get your resume ready and start networking. Good Luck!

  4. Andrew
    March 23, 2016 at 6:51 am

    I’m getting fed up with rejections and I am getting either “we see you have great potential and will go far in the company” or “we are impressed with your skill set and will be a great fit in the company” and get rejected. I wished employers just told me I didn’t get the job and end it like that without the sugar-coated BS they spew out.

    Another one that really grinds my gears is when they say they are looking for someone with a little more experience after they say in the interview they would train me and any skill gaps isn’t an issue. I hate my time being wasted in researching companies, travelling and attending to interviews if experience was the thing they were looking for as my CV indicates my experience.

  5. akashdeep
    August 4, 2016 at 8:58 am

    Hey what if only one candidate, reaches the last round. And then they say your interview was good but we cant take you.
    Although i liked your idea of staying in touch with the top managers who interviewed.

  6. SSM
    July 18, 2017 at 3:53 pm

    I am going through a similar experience. I interviewed with one of the smaller banks in Toronto and made it to the third round. I did the HR screening for an hour after which I was called in for an in person interview with the hiring manager and the talent acquisition manager. That interview went about 15 minutes over the scheduled slot. Third interview was with the hiring manager’s team which consisted of 2 other Product Managers and her line supervisor who is the Business Director. I met with the team first and one of the two Product Managers kept doubting the experience stated on my resume and kept questioning as if I’ve fudged what’s written on my resume. The other one was polite and asked relevant questions. Director came in after an hour with the team and stayed for 20 minutes. Conversation with the Director was fluid and insightful. We parted on a great note.

    A week later I am waiting to hear back from them but I have a terrible feeling that one guy on the team might have screwed my impression on the other member of the team, rendering my efforts fruitless. It’s a very sad situation how unprofessional people are allowed to interview the candidates and worse – their input is given credence.