How To Handle Interview Rejection

After days or weeks of getting ready for your interview, few things are more crushing than learning you haven’t been successful in getting the job. Rejection is difficult to deal with in any part of life, but it can be particularly upsetting when you’re striving for the perfect career.


However, rejection is also a common part of the job searching process. Learning how to respond productively to a lost job opportunity is the way to ensure you don’t keep making the same mistakes the next time you meet with a hiring manager.


Here’s what you can do to correctly handle interview rejections.

Step 1: Ask if the Role Was What You Really Wanted

First, it’s worth asking whether the role was right for you in the first place. When you’re keen to take the next step in your career, you might start applying for just “close enough” roles to what you really want rather than seeking the ideal role.


Perhaps you were attracted to certain aspects of the position but were a little concerned about the company culture. Maybe you were happy about the opportunity to find your first job in an industry you thought you wanted to be in, but the position in question didn’t really give you much scope to showcase your skills.


If you weren’t particularly passionate about the job in the first place, there’s a good chance the hiring manager picked up on that fact. Maybe you rushed through the research stage of preparing for the interview or failed to leave a lasting impression.

Ask yourself whether this role was right for you, and if it wasn’t, consider adjusting your job search accordingly. Applying only for the positions you truly care about will motivate you to showcase the best version of yourself during your next interview.

Step 2: Reconsider Your Qualifications

Even if you liked the idea of the role you were applying for and thought it would be good for your career, you may not have been perfectly positioned for the job. Take another look at the job description and highlight the qualifications the manager was looking for. Do they match your education and experience perfectly?


If not, this could be a sign it wasn’t what you did in the interview that lost you the opportunity. No matter how confident you appear during the interview, most hiring managers will still prioritize candidates with the right qualifications.


If you continue applying for similar roles in the future, the best thing you can do now is start working on adding to your skills. Make a list of all the talents and educational credentials you don’t already have and start seeking them out. Even showing your “would-be” employer you’re tacking steps to learn new skills can improve your chances of getting your next role.

Step 3: Brush up on Your Interview Confidence

If you did have all of the correct qualifications and experience for the role you wanted, the problem could be with your technique. Lack of confidence during an interview is a common reason why around 40% of candidates don’t make it past the first interview stage.


Look back over the conversation you had with the hiring manager. Were you constantly fidgeting, looking down at your resume, or failing to make eye contact? Your body language in an interview can say a lot about you and how confident you feel in your abilities.


Try practicing with a friend or colleague to prepare for your next interview. Make a list of common interview questions similar to the ones you were asked in your last interview, and practice responding to them. Come up with competency-based answers which showcase your abilities and the skills that hiring managers are looking for.

Most importantly, practice demonstrating an air of positive self-esteem. Sit straight, keep your hands still, and make eye contact regularly. A smile can go a long way in an interview too.

Step 4: Look for Ways to Improve Next Time

Outside of increasing your confidence for an interview, you can take several other steps to improve your chances of success going forward. Take the time to go back over the interview in your head and ask yourself where you struggled.


Were there certain questions you didn’t have a good response to? If so, you can practice generating relevant answers. Maybe you misjudged the dress code or arrived late to a video meeting because you were busy setting up your camera.


You may have failed to make the right impression because you didn’t have enough information about the company you applied for. Around 47% of candidates fail their interviews because they haven’t done enough research. Learning as much as possible about the business before you start applying for roles will help you tailor your answers and resume to the company’s needs.

Step 5: Respond to your Interviewer

Finally, a good way to improve your chances of success in upcoming interviews is to respond to your interviewer after they send you the rejection message. Thank the company for their time, and they’ll be more likely to think of you positively if you apply for roles with the same business. What’s more, this is a great chance to ask for feedback.


If you’re not sure exactly what you did wrong during the conversation, request a little bit of detailed information on why they chose someone other than you. This will help you to highlight the areas you need to address before beginning your next job search.

You can even consider talking to your recruiting agency about how the interview went and see if they had any suggestions.

Time to Refresh Your Career Plan?

Sometimes, rejection after an interview is a sign you need to brush up on your interview skills and confidence. Other times, you could be setting yourself up for failure by applying for roles you’re not suited to in the first place. Working with a recruitment agency should ensure you only apply for the roles you’re most likely to be chosen for.

Here at The Black Diamond Agency, we have been helping corporate retailers with their talent acquisition and helping specialty retail talent find their ideal roles for over 7 years. If you want to find out how we can help, email us at Info@TheBlackDiamondAgency.com. We look forward to working with you!


Written by

Lileah Akiode


Lileah Akiode is the Managing Director of The Black Diamond Agency, a recruitment firm dedicated to connecting talented people with rewarding career opportunities. With a strong background in Talent Acquisition across different corporate retailers, Lileah brings a wealth of experience to ensure a seamless and positive candidate experience. In addition to corporate retail, Lileah also experience supporting the Financial Services and IT industries.


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