Rejection, No Problem: 5 Steps to Ace Your Next Interview

This blog post was written by Ele Chakraborty, a CCO ambassador, sharing 5 tips to bounce back from a bad interview or a rejection. Keep an eye out for more of Ele’s blog posts this semester!

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You are sitting in a stiff office chair and your knees are jumping below you with anxiety.  To top it all, your hands begin to sweat uncontrollably, a rather inconvenient result of adrenaline rush.  Facing you is a recruiter for your dream company.  The stakes are high because you have convinced yourself that this company is the only one where you can get the upper hand in industry.  From all the extensive pre-interview research, you feel that you know the company better than your own name.  Additionally, you know that you are the best candidate for the position; you have all the qualities listed within the job description and you know how to explain them.  Then, you hear the words of the first question…

What three words describe you the most and why?

Your brain draws a blank. Your mouth gets dry.  This is going to be a long half hour…

Interviews can be stressful for everyone, even for the most experienced.  The process takes numerous hours of research, resume writing, and interview preparation.  Also, the interview environment can deviate from plan at any moment, such as the example given above about the candidate’s unfortunate memory loss.  However, no matter if you are an elite or beginner, the most stressful element of the interview process is the result; specifically the rejection letter.  In the case of a “bad” interview, the most important thing to remember is that it’s not the end of the world.  There are numerous ways to turn a negative result into a positive one; there is always a way to improve.

Here are five things to keep in mind after a BAD interview.

1. Unique You = Unique Company

When you receive a rejection letter, it’s perfectly normal to feel disappointed or even scream into your pillow.  Whatever you do to cope with the bad news, be sure to NOT rip or delete the letter.  Take about two to three days to cool off, then reflect on your performance.  Most interviews result in rejection not because of poor performance, but of candidate mismatch.  For example, if Robin Hood was recruiting a new member for his band of thieves, he would rather pick the candidate who has experience helping the poor than one who doesn’t.  The same idea applies in the real world.  Recruiters want candidates that have certain qualities pertaining to the company’s mission.  If you don’t have all those qualities, don’t fret.  There are a multitude other companies that need employees just like you.  The challenge is to discover them.

2. Feedback is Free and Helpful

Remember that rejection letter that you saved?  Well, this is where you can turn an unfortunate event into a valuable experience.  The letter usually gives the candidate an opportunity to communicate with the interviewing recruiter.  This is your chance to ask for feedback on how to improve future interviews.  Most importantly, recruiters remember candidates who proactively seek their advice.  Therefore, a simple five-sentence feedback request email will return double the favor: helpful pointers and a potential second chance.  In addition to recruiter feedback, mock interviews and InterviewStream are great options for instant criticism. 

3. Practice, Practice, Practice

Everyone knows the saying, “Practice makes perfect.” Yet, few people know that practice makes perfect candidates.  Congratulations, now you know.  There are numerous ways to practice for an interview, besides attending the actual one.  For instance, Purdue’s Center for Career Opportunities (CCO) provide mock interview and InterviewStream services.  Additionally, the CCO has interview walk-in services for general questions and last minutes pointers.  Other practice outlets include interview preparation books, interview seminars, and Q&A with friends and family.  Whatever your choice, be sure to allow ample time before the actual interview in order to be prepared.

4. Right Time and Place for Dream Destination

Similar to any milestone in your life, there is a time and place for acing the interview and receiving your dream offer.  The key is to be persistent.  When you are given a networking opportunity or company seminar invitation, take it.  You don’t know where the opportunity will lead you; it might even lead you to another interview.  Sometimes the best plan is to have a little faith.  By now, you have done company research, and have practiced and gathered feedback.  The right time and place is near.  You just need to believe it. 

5. Never Say Never

Having a negative attitude about the rejection won’t get you very far in the job search.  Usually, this attitude will translate to your future interviews, destroying your confidence and concentration.  Since recruiters advocate the “glass-half-full” philosophy, a negative attitude can hinder possible connections between interviewer and interviewee.  To guarantee a fresh start, take all the negative thoughts from your rejection and enter the interview room with a clean slate.  This strategy will help you conquer the anxiety and stress of a bad interview trend.  In other words, if you get rejected, just move on.  A job opportunity will come your way in no time.  Too good to be true?  Then ask yourself, “Bieber can say it, why can’t you?” 

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Keeping these five ideas in mind, your bad interview nightmare should end soon.

Good Luck!

Ele

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