Career Advice, Interviews

Turned Down For A Job? Decide If It’s Time For ‘Fight or Flight’

We all want to be wanted.  And no matter, how we brush it off, it hurts when someone turns us down. We are confident enough in our own abilities and experiences that we expect that we will be desired for the jobs we interview.  In any situation, especially a job interview, there is an amount of ego that we must sell in order to promote ourselves to others.  So, what should we do if we have gone through the trouble of interviewing multiple times, given our time and energy to a company, and put ourselves out there to be evaluated and assessed, and then….we get dinged?  Within human nature there are the two emotions that can take over…fight or flight.  Should we fight for the job after we have been turned down, or do we just go about our business and move on?  I want to make the case for both to help you go through this experience in the best way.

Fight – You’ve been turned down and you want to go back in and fight for the job:

  • Know for what you are fighting. You think that you are fighting to prove that you should get the job, but you need to know what you are really fighting for?  Was it really you or did something change in the hiring specifications/process?  The only way you are going to know is ask. If you want to get the real story, then you have to get the recruiter to be honest with you as to why you didn’t get the role.  The best question I was ever asked by a candidate who was turned down, “if we could do this all over again, what would you have had me do differently to help me be the candidate to fill the job?”
  • Get personal. Try and get back in front of the decision maker if you can. That is the best.  Once you are there in person, you can express your personal disappointment in not getting the role. But, to make that plea worth anything it cannot in any way feel like you are entitled to the job or that a bad-decision was made.  What you can do is try and think through where the interviews were not as strong as you wanted, or where you did not feel like you connected with a person as strongly as you should have, and share that experience with the recruiter.  Then leave with them a letter that addresses these things, doing your best to better express your experience and accomplishments.  Ask the recruiter to please share your letter with the decision-maker.

  • Use the thank you note to resell yourself. Send your thank-you notes, and, let each of the people who you interviewed with know that you really want the job. You can also see if they would be willing to have you come back in and meet to try and address the concerns they had with you.  Let them also know that you would welcome the feedback as to what you can do to be better.  Make these notes as personalized to the interview you had with them as you can. Reference those things that you talked about that stood out to you.  Maybe you will get someone who will give you a second showing.

Flight – You’ve been turned down and you’re ready to move on but you want to feel good about it:

  • Accept that all things happen for a reason. I have seen too many hiring managers and recruiters force fit a person into a job and when they get there, the fit wasn’t right and no one ends up happy.  Not having everyone really excited about you joining a company can be the difference between your success and failure.  So, accept that not everyone is for every company and be glad that you didn’t end up in a bad job marriage.
  • Write the thank you notes… even though you don’t want to.  You always want to leave people with the best last impression you can. So, suck it up and write the thank you notes.

  • Give a referral. If you want to be known as a class act then call or send an email to the recruiter/hiring manager, not only thanking them, but offering to help them fill the job by providing referrals to those who you know and think would be good for the job.  Not only will you be remembered positively for this, but you may help a friend get a good job and thus, do good twice.

I know all of this is hard when you really need that job, but remember; you are talented and the right things will happen if you stick with it and learn from every interview and every experience.