Keep Your Motivation When Being Rejected At A Job Interview

2017 July 14
5 min read

Let’s go down the ‘job search lane’ once again.

As Mr. Frost beautifully puts it into words, for many of us out there, this will remain a road not taken.

Those fortunate enough to have planned their career will walk a clear and smooth professional path, having those opportunities arise by themselves. But for the rest of us mortals, the job search will turn out to be a journey often accompanied by hardship and rejection.

Numerous times I had my eyes set on what I thought to be my ideal job, only to be informed that in the end, they have preferred another candidate. One time I had even been introduced to the team and sat at what was supposed to be my future desk.

You can imagine the profound disappointment I went through when that negative feedback e-mail arrived. I would like to share with you two valuable insights on how to keep yourself running this race.

Before anything else, I wish to remind you that a career plan is a game changer on how you can finish the job competition though!

OK, let’s do this. I am familiar with rejection, having tried (unsuccessfully!) to change my job for almost 5 years. Even today when I am driving around the city, I point out tens of office buildings where I went to job interviews.

The scenario was simple: they all liked me and thought I had potential, BUT - insert generic rejection reasons here, I was in a closed loop of searching, applying, being interviewed and then turned down for jobs that were seemingly a good match for my profile.

And let me tell you, those were the hardest ones to let go of! At one point I even stopped the search, I was exhausted and demotivated. I was blaming myself and saw the situation as a failure. This was a key point to me.

Until then I was fortunate enough not to have had experienced serious failure. I did not know how to handle the prospect of not accomplishing what I had set out for myself.

I won’t get into the psychological side of the matter, but the bottom line for me was that I had to go through (and not take the easy way out) a period of serious setbacks.

Besides lacking the discipline and internal motivation to keep searching for a new job, I was also facing the worst: staying at a job that I passionately hated.

In between these two extremes, I did what was very counterintuitive: stopped and let the feeling of losing sink in. Seriously, who around you will encourage you with “just stop and taste the bitterness of losing”?

Nowadays you get by with posting something inspiring and cheerful on social media, so at least the made up life will be OK. Failure is not something to be lingered on or talked about, man up and get back in the saddle they say.

But you know what I have discovered by doing the exact opposite? That I was not failing at all, I was only having a hard time. And I was poorly prepared for hard times. More so, the biggest lie I told myself was that it was never ending and that I will NEVER get a new job.

Besides death and taxes, as one says, nothing is certain.

You might define failure differently than I was, but I can say with certainty that not being able to find a new job is not a failure.

As I am writing this I am remembering one book that has helped me understand that hardship comes with its rewards, especially if you choose to see it as a transition.

I chose to admit to myself that I wasn’t the perfect candidate, and revised my job choices, I had to fight harder and to rely on something more than my ability to talk my way out of job interviews. Yes, I was that arrogant.

My motivation changed completely. I understood that my goal was not to receive a job offer but to plan and chase after the offer that will bring along a workplace where I will thrive and grow. I learned this over 3 months or so, while I allowed myself to accept that I will not have my way if I did not change my approach.

To sum it up: when you are continuously rejected at job interviews stop, admit that you have lost some battles, but a transition to the new one.

This leads me to the second lesson I’ve learned. There are some things you can’t control, focus on those you can. The transition I was talking about can also be seen as a training or self-discipline process.

This is also a firm conviction I’ve gained through the years of job searching. I am not able to change the way HR people or hiring managers assess my competencies.

That is entirely depended on their mindset and requirements. The only thing I can control is myself. I am highly competitive, so this time I had to compete to my then self, who I already saw as awesome and accomplished.

It was a daily battle to not push the send button and review my resume in accordance with the job requirements. I knew I could do it all, but I was the only one, so I started to gather evidence for those unbelievers out there.

I started to get involved in projects at work that pushed my limits and built my resilience. Yes, you might say that this happened because I was young and immature.

I won’t disagree, but I’ve met managers that go through the same struggle. It takes humbleness to admit that you have to change yourself first. This is the only controllable resource you have. Don’t throw the towel just yet. Focus on what you know you are great at and search for the job that will help you get even better. 

Control yourself, the real failure is giving up altogether and not trying hard enough. Take all the time you need in the process.

As I am reading this, I realize that maybe this will not be useful to everyone. I can only hope you’ll take this as a heartfelt advice, the experience is the best teacher in the end. Also, if you’re like me, you’ll probably need some good music as a soundtrack for this job searching battle.

Disclaimer: only listen to this if it’s not too dark and it doesn’t set the wrong mood for you.

Best of luck and remember to be kind to yourself once in awhile!