The worst rejection I ever had went something along the lines of this: “Sorry, I’m so sorry, you were really, really good but you’re unsuccessful today”, and the whole conversation lasted under one and a half minutes. After an enlightening job-hunting chat with a new colleague, I found that I wasn’t the only one that had been given that very same, very vague, very apologetic, no. How is one supposed to respond, apart from wallow that you are one step further back from being employed? I don’t know about you, but in most situations, I appreciate closure, feedback and constructive criticism. And in this situation, I really wanted something more. A message like that leaves me frustrated and confused… thank you for telling me that I didn’t get the job, even though I was really, really good. Guess I had to be really, really, really good? Cue my bed, chocolate and Netflix, remedies for the #worstdayever.
But the best rejection I ever had left me feeling positive, empowered and special, #bestdayever! I know, who would have thought rejection could feel so good? The phone called lasted about 15 minutes, and after the initial pleasantries, I was told I didn’t get the job. There was no mucking about. However, in the following minutes, my could-have-been-but-never-will-be employer explained to me what they liked about me, why I didn’t get the job, who did, and offered me some priceless feedback and general loveliness in (what would typically be) an unlovely time. All because I asked for a little feedback about my interview.
1. What they liked about me: My positivity, energy, and presence at the interview. My willingness to learn and eagerness to get my foot in the door. My curiosity, and my interest for the job on offer, and the industry.
This was honestly so uplifting to hear, as it was exactly what I wanted to portray. A lot of smiling and the #fakeituntilyoumakeit philosophy can go a long way when you’re (more than a little) nervous.
2. Why I didn’t get the job and who did: I ticked the boxes for passion, background and personality. The person that was successful ticked more boxes in specific industry experience, and skills. They had worked in a similar role before. While they would have been happy to train me, it made more sense, and was a better use of resources to invest in someone that would be ready to go. I was the runner up to the role.
Missing out because of inexperience sucks, but since it wasn’t a specific graduate or entry role, I expected it and accepted it. For me, it was a bonus that they even considered me!
3. The priceless feedback and advice. I interview well, and am an approachable, open person. Although young, I come across mature and grounded. Don’t apologise for lack of experience, you’re a graduate and new to the workforce so it’s not your fault. Speak slightly slower. Brush up on Excel so you can confidently say you can use it.
Can’t I just brush up my lying skills…? And noted on slowing down, when-I-am-nervous-or-excited-or-both-I-run-my-words-together-and-ramble-on-and-on.
4. General loveliness. I hope that someone opens that door just enough for you to get your foot in, because I know you will go far and get what you want. I’m just sorry that today, it can’t be us.
My response was simply a very heartfelt thank you, for their time, feedback and transparency.
I didn’t get the job, but I was more than ok with it. As I hung up the phone, I didn’t feel deflated like I had all those other times. Instead, I felt ready to send in more applications, and ready to rock more interviews because I knew I was doing some things right. Just by serving up a rejection with a little apology, and a lot of honesty, I was given confidence and motivation from the employer, in a situation that would normally bring the opposite.
So a word for employers: if you can spare a minute, please take the time to offer some feedback, even if it’s just one point. It can make a heck of a difference. A word for job hunters: ask for some feedback because you have nothing to lose, and something to gain. That’s if you want it, of course.
As a job hunter, do you want and like hearing feedback, like I do? Or would you prefer to hang up, delete the email, and move on as quickly as possible?