Sometimes, despite the best planning, the best preparation, the best resume proofreading, and the best interview practice in the world, a perfectly qualified candidate can still receive a negative response from an employer….or even worse, no response at all. In fact, this happens all the time. The word "no" is actually a standard part of the job search that all candidates should be prepared for.
It's important to think positive, but when rejection happens, a dignified response can turn a disappointing moment into a valuable experience. The right reaction can also help you strengthen your reputation and your personal brand over the long term. Keep these moves in mind.
Show Gratitude & Accept It Gracefully
Most of the time, a responsible, professional company won't just let the line go silent after the interview stage. If you've gone to the trouble of showing up for an in-person meeting, you deserve the courtesy of a polite and personal response. Chances are, your interviewers will call you on the phone or send a formal message explaining that you weren't chosen for the position, but the reasons by no means represent a negative reflection on your qualifications or your personality. Professional employers will thank you sincerely for your time and the interest you've shown in their company.
Accept these thanks and return them. Thanks and gratitude are always welcome in the professional world. If you have the time and inclination, you can even go the extra mile and respond with a message or phone call in which you share your gratitude and say something nice about the interview, the interviewers, or the company.
If You'd Like An Explanation, Just Ask
It's perfectly reasonable to ask your potential employers why you were turned away. They may not be willing to share specific details, since this can expose them to lawsuits and diplomatic hassles, but you're well within your rights to ask. To encourage a more meaningful response, keep your questions brief, concrete, and specific. Instead of asking "why wasn't I hired?" try the following phrases instead:
"Were there any specific qualifications that I didn't have that might have increased my chances?"
"If I decide to apply to the company again at some point in the future, is there any advice you can give me?"
"Can you tell me how my credentials differed from those of the person you chose in the end?"
No matter what kind of answer you receive, you'll need to read between the lines, since your interviewers will want to avoid a direct response that might mislead you or hurt your feelings. So keep your wording clear and your mind open if you pursue this route.
Know When to Take No for an Answer
After you've shared your gratitude and asked politely for follow-up information, it's time to let go. There's a real, but very slim chance that this dialogue will cause your reviewers to change their minds. So when you've completed your end of a polite, short, and professional exchange, it's time to say goodbye. Use what you've learned to inform the next step of your job search, and keep your eyes focused on the road ahead.
Take Another Look at Your Resume
Every setback is an opportunity in disguise, and every rejection gives you a chance to adjust your strategy as you move forward. Start with your resume. Use the tips and templates on MyPerfectResume to reshape, redirect, and relaunch your search.