Resenting Rejections? – How to turn negative feedback into a positive outcome
Sam Wilson, July 28, 2014
We’ve all been there when the dreaded email drops into our inbox:
‘Thank you for your attendance to your recent interview. We regret to inform you that, after careful consideration, we will not be taking your application any further on this occasion.’
But the important thing to remember is that we have all been there. Many of us have also experienced the infuriating lack of response, despite going to great efforts to attend the interview. A rejection always hurts, but it is when this email makes a regular appearance in your inbox that it becomes difficult to not take it personally. It is important that we respond to rejection in the correct way, especially when it comes to job hunting.
As hard as it may be, responding to emails such as the above is essential in order to gain some useful feedback. For example:
‘Thank you very much for coming back to me. Naturally I am disappointed, but to help me with my future interviews, please could you give me some feedback on what I did well and what I could have done better in our meeting?’
The positive comments will cushion the blow and make you realise that the interview wasn’t all bad. The negative feedback will inform you of what you need to improve for next time. The more specific your feedback is, the more you will learn from it.
Combat vague feedback:
‘We regret to inform you that...
'you lacked experience’
• If you feel this is a justified reason for you not getting the job, you must think about how you can gain some more relevant experience before your next interview. This will help you to avoid a recurrence of the same feedback.
• If you feel you have had plenty of experience, it may be that the way you articulated your experiences wasn’t quite effective.
• If you are 100% sure you did explain your experiences well, then it may have been the easy way out for the interviewer. In this case try not to take it to heart.
‘we met a more suitable candidate’
• Unfortunately, jobs are so competitive these days therefore there will often be people out there who are more qualified or have more experience than you.
• Try not to let it worry you too much, just keep updating your relevant experiences and be sure to promote these in your interviews. On the next interview occasion, you could be the more experienced candidate for the role, or the most relevant in other ways.
‘your skills are not suited to the role’
•If you were going for a job that is different from anything you have done before, then this comment may be justified. If you really want a chance in a career you lack experience in, then you must find a way to spin the experience you have had to make it relevant; demonstrate transferable skills.
•If you feel your skills are suited to the job then this is either poor feedback, or the skills you do possess didn’t get translated in the interview. Use examples of times you have proven certain skills to make your suitability to the role more obvious.
How to embrace constructive criticism:
Fight back. Not literally, as replying to your interviewer with anger-fuelled insults certainly will not help your career development! Instead look at it as a change of mindset; realise that negative feedback is a gift rather than a burden. The reality behind it is, how can you change for the better without knowing what needs to be changed? Employers’ feedback will help you to think constructively about your performance. If provided in the correct manner, it will motivate you to improve your skills/performance, bringing you one step closer to that ‘yes’ you’re dying to hear. So if you refuse to let negative feedback get you down and choose to utilise it instead, then the reason you were turned down for one job could become the reason you’re hired for the next.
To achieve a positive outcome, remember:
• You are not alone - jobs are becoming ever more competitive, so it’s not always about you. It’s sometimes simply the sheer number of high quality candidates.
• Learn from the experience - the more interviews you have, the more experience you’ll gain. You will also develop a vital skill in the process of rejection: resilience.
• Network - use the connection you make in an interview to help build your network. Connect to them on LinkedIn if possible.
• Embrace new opportunities - don’t let the rejections get in the way of your next interview. Just as you tweaked your CV and covering letter for each application, you need to prepare and treat each interview differently from the previous one.