Overreacting to a failed interview can prevent you from making progress in your job search. If you take emotion out of the equation, you can calmly ask the hiring manager for honest feedback about your weaknesses. While recruiters value self-starters, they're also reluctant to cause conflict with rejected candidates who feel misjudged. Handle rejections gracefully to maintain a positive image with hiring managers and keep the door open for future opportunities.
Replay the Interview in Your Mind
Self-evaluation is the first hurdle after a bad interview, as it challenges you to look at your behavior, speech and appearance from the perspective of a potential employer. Your laser focus during an interview may reduce your perception of warning signs, such as a bored or unimpressed hiring manager. Did you prepare detailed answers to common behavioral questions? Did you wear attire suitable for the company culture and maintain a professional demeanor? Did you ask thoughtful questions at the end of the interview? Reviewing the session can help you identify areas where you went wrong so you're less likely to get emotional when you hear criticism from recruiters.
Accept the Loss, and Move Forward
Getting useful interview feedback can be difficult because hiring managers don't want to argue with angry candidates about why they didn't get the job. Whether hiring from within or outside the company, a recruiter's well-intentioned honesty can open the door to HR battles or discrimination claims. With this in mind, prepare yourself for vague or evasive answers, and don't push for more if hiring managers are clearly uncomfortable with providing details.
Put the hiring manager at ease by making it clear that you accept the rejection and only want tips for self-improvement. An example statement is, "I understand that you're moving forward with another candidate, and I appreciate you making time to speak with me again. However, I am still deeply interested in your company and would value feedback about my interview. What advice would you give me to be more successful in the future?"
This example is reassuring because it removes blame from the hiring manager while expressing humility and gratitude, qualities most employers admire in potential candidates. Asking for advice also lets recruiters focus on what you can do going forward, instead of pushing her into dangerous territory by prompting her to list your flaws.
Be Receptive and Proactive
Thank recruiters for interview feedback, whether you agree or not, as the employer may have other job openings, or a top candidate may not work out for the position. Let the hiring manager know you plan to work on your weaknesses and want to be considered for future positions. If the rejection was behavioral and unrelated to your qualifications, practice interviewing with a career coach or a friend. Videotape the sessions, and pay close attention to comments and body language that make you appear lazy, negative or uninterested.
Job interviews don't always go well, but you can take reparative steps to show the hiring manager you can bounce back and improve. Avoid the initial urge to internalize a job rejection, and instead turn an outwardly discouraging interview experience into an opportunity to network and build deeper relationships in the industry.
Photo courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net