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Learning from interview failure
28 July 2015
When it comes to interviewing, it helps to remember this well-known phrase – you win some, you lose some.
No one is so perfect that they are going to ace every single interview, and every single employer they sit in front of is going to love them.
The most important thing to do if you happen to miss out on a particular job is to treat it as a learning experience.
Sure, it’s disappointing when you get the phone call saying you’re not going to get the job you really wanted, but chances are that the interview that snares you your ideal job is right around the corner.
If you don’t get the job, it’s incredibly important that you don’t throw your toys out of the pram and take it personally. As the well-worn cliché goes, “it’s not personal, it’s business”. There could be any number of reasons why the employer didn’t feel you were right for that particular role.
The smart thing to do is ask questions and find out why you weren’t right. Most employers or HR people will be more than happy to go through the reasons with you. So don’t view an unsuccessful interview as a knockback – treat it as a learning experience. Who knows…you might find something out about yourself that you didn’t know, which could become a huge asset in the interviews you have in the future.
Find out exactly what the interviewer thought your strengths and weaknesses were, and find a way to maximise the strengths and work on the weaknesses for your next interview.
In many instances, the interviewer might have been very impressed with you as a person and as a potential employee, but not for that particular job at that particular time. They might want to wait until a more suitable role becomes available, or they might know someone else for whom you would be perfect.
Always look for the upside – if you are the right type of person who has prepared well and interviewed confidently, there almost always is one.
Above all – and this is crucial – no matter how tempting it is to say “Oh yeah, well it’s your loss, pal! You wouldn’t know a great employee if he punched you in the nose…which I’m tempted to do right now!” … don’t.
You need to always keep your networks open. The world is a much smaller place than we often think it is, and industries are smaller again. The person who you tee off on might just be best friends with the next person you interview for. And that next person might think that you are the best candidate they have ever seen, until they mention your name in passing over a Friday night beer to their best friend.
And that job you had in the bag, is gone.
So always take a ‘no’ graciously and thank them for their time.
The world is a much smaller place than we often think it is, and industries are smaller again. The person who you tee off on might just be best friends with the next person you interview for.
The fact is that most of us spend more time at work than almost anything else – being with our families, enjoying leisure time, even sleeping – so it is important that we enjoy what we do for work, where we do it and with whom we do it.
In some respects, a job is a lot like a relationship. You may be madly in love with someone but no matter how hard you try, they are just not interested in you. The reality is that you were probably not meant to be with one another in the first place, but the one who was made for you will soon appear – when the time is right.
So there is no point trying to convince an employer (or yourself, for that matter) that you are right for the job if you are not.
Think calmly and rationally and you will be sure to make the right decision. Remember to think long term because the choices you make today will stand you in good stead for the future.
And if an interview doesn’t go quite the way you’d hoped:
- Learn from the interview process
- Ask for feedback
- Keep your networks open
And remember – it’s not the end of the world, it’s the start of something big.
Follow these tips to ensure that negative interview feedback spurs you on to conquering your next one:
- Treat it as a learning experience
- Ask for feedback – you might learn something about yourself that will become a key asset
- Learn what they thought your strengths and weakness are
- Take a “no” graciously. The world is a small place
- Remember, it’s not the end of the world, it’s the start of something better