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How to cope with rejection

Published: Tuesday 21st April 2015

The word ‘rejection’ strikes like a dagger to the heart in any situation – and a rejection letter for a job – especially after what feels like a successful interview – can really leave you feeling down and overwhelmed when job hunting. Rejection can make you question your abilities and shake your confidence and what’s worse, can actually affect your performance in any future interviews. Instead of being downcast, why not see what you can learn from being knocked back?It’s Not You, It’s Me

An interview rejection letter will very rarely be all about your performance. Whilst it’s difficult not to take rejection personally or see it as a failure, it is important to remember to use the experience to build on key strengths and skills. There may be a candidate who has more direct and relevant experience, or an internal candidate who already understands the business. These things are out of your control. If you prepared fully for your interview and felt you demonstrated all of your core abilities, then in reality, there’s nothing else you can do. 

Ask for feedback after the rejection letter

Male employee, looking down at a table, with both hands on back of his head

If you thought your CV was watertight or you sailed through the interview, you can ask for feedback from the employer or recruiter for future reference. Two of the most common reasons people get turned down with an interview rejection is your interview style or a lack of technical knowledge. The great thing about both of these reasons is that you can do something about them! Interviewing, and interviewing well, is a skill. And like any other skill can be learned and developed. 

If lack of knowledge is cited, it might be worth looking into courses to improve your knowledge in a particular area. Or even as a starting point, just reviewing the structure of your answers to technical questions to make sure you show off all that you know.

Don’t get defensive

Whilst asking for feedback can be invaluable, it’s worth noting that if you don’t agree with the feedback, it’s not a wise move at this stage to be overly defensive. Whist you may not completely agree with the employer’s feedback, try and remain open minded. If you decide to tell the employer that they’re “wrong” by not hiring you – this will more often than not go against you, should you ever to get a job interview with that company again – or any other company that person recruits for in the future. 

applicants getting bored sitting on chairs in queue line tedious waiting for job interview concept, tired exhausted after rejection


Probably the most important thing after a rejection is to just keep on moving. Don’t let the rejection knock your confidence and keep your skills and experience current and relevant. After this initial disappointment, it’s a great time to re-focus on what it is you actually want. Be selective with your job applications. Only go for the ones which interest and excite you and research the company, the team and role as much as possible. Finally, remain optimistic and remember – there is life after rejection. 

For more job hunting hints and interviewing tips visit the Zoek blog or follow us on Twitter. If you are looking for a new job why not download the Zoek App for free. The new app is available on IOS and Android which connects you to your ideal jobs.

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