Job Interview Failure–What Happened?
Maybe you’ve never failed to ace an interview and win the job you were after; if so, I salute you. Most of us mere mortals have had that unhappy experience–maybe more than once in our working lives. If you’re one of us, you’re all too familiar with the incredulous “what the heck happened?” reaction you experienced when you learned that you hadn’t landed the job after all.
So what the heck did happen? Did you blow it in some way that you could have prevented? Were you sabotaged by external forces over which you had little to no control? Why, when you thought the interview went fantastically, did you get rejected for the position you thought was going to be yours?
Job Interview Failure Causes
You’ve probably heard before at least some of what I’m going to say here, but I think it bears repeating. We tend to forget things over time or they get buried by other experiences. Here are just a few of the possible causes of job interview failure:
- You applied for jobs where you didn’t quite meet all the “must have” qualifications. This isn’t automatically the kiss of death, but it does mean you’re fighting an uphill battle. The company obviously liked your resume enough to bring you in for an interview, so you must have had something going for you, but in the end, it wasn’t enough.
- You thought you could skimp on the interview preparation stage and essentially wing-it because you’re a quick thinker and good at improvising. Bad choice! Poor preparation has a way of showing through and tripping you up when you least expect it. The improvised answer you thought was brilliant might have struck the interviewer as a little less so.
- You didn’t have a plan for interview follow-up starting at the end of the actual interview itself and continuing for a reasonable period (with reasonable frequency) thereafter. Follow-up and follow-through are critical on the job, but they’re just as critical in helping you land the job to begin with.
Job Interview Failure–Corrective Action
I recently read an article by Jenny Beswick called “How to Cope with a Job Interview Rejection: Learning from Mistakes.” It’s a pretty basic article, and much of the information is available from multiple sources. However, I thought her list of steps you can take after a rejection was worth sharing briefly:
- Attack it head-on. Maybe you can turn a “no” into a “yes” by taking a direct but non-desperate approach.
- Develop your plan. Interviewers often decline to offer feedback about how you did, but if you don’t ask, you definitely won’t get. So ask.
- Practice your pitch. Take what you’ve learned and work out how to do it better next time.
- Don’t blame yourself. Hard as it might be to accept, sometimes you were up against obstacles that you didn’t–and couldn’t–have known about beforehand.
- Don’t make it personal. Don’t take the rejection out on other people (including the interviewer), who probably didn’t engineer your rejection out of malice. Don’t burn any bridges you don’t have to.
My best advice: Bemoaning a job interview failure accomplishes nothing worthwhile. Refocus your actions. Plan for interviews as thoughtfully and thoroughly as you would for something as major, say, as buying your first house. Get help with the preparation and the follow-up/follow-through if you need it. Without ignoring warning signs or bad news, stay as positive as you can, so you can move forward as soon as you spot other opportunities.