Getting over a bad interview without internalizing the rejection

Photo by Sora Shimazaki on

Have you ever been rejected for a position that you know you qualify for, prepared and presented yourself very well in the interview? It is even worse where you never hear from the company and you either see the job re-advertised or hear that someone has been hired? Are you one of those people that think ‘aargh I’m fabulous and if they don’t recognize it then it’s their loss’? Or are you like the rest of us mere mortals who feel all those buried feelings of rejection, not good enough, not fitting in get triggered and throw us hopefully into a just ‘mini’ short term depression?

I’ve had one of those interviews where I had the required experience and qualifications for the job. I actually had more qualifications than the job required and had worked both in the level that the job was pitched on and on a level higher. I knew I could do that job with my eyes closed. The job required the technical skills, the ability to build and create relationship and create structure. Qualities that I know I am good at. I also believe that I am a decent communicator and am not worried about being unable to communicate those well and strongly in the interview.

I did not get the job, to make matters worse I heard on the grapevine that another black woman was appointed for the job. That should have made me feel better but it actually made me feel worse because clearly race was not an issue. If race was not an issue then it meant that I was either not good enough for the role or had failed to convince them that I was, which would still be a failure on my part. I started thinking that maybe I had forgotten how to interview and will struggle getting another job.

But wait a minute……. Is this true? Can I know it for a fact that I am the reason that I did not get the interview?

When I was done feeling sorry for myself and started doing the inner work on this situation. I realized that I had internalized the whole thing as a rejection and had not considered other possibilities. What if they already had someone in mind for the job? What if they thought I was over qualified for the position? What if they thought I wouldn’t fit their company culture? What if the hiring manager just took a disliking to me for whatever reason? All of these possibilities have nothing to do with my competence and skills yet I had focused on internalizing it. I had decided that this was a measure of my worth, competence and ability to move forward.

If you ever find yourself in a similar situation of course analyze whether you were the best fit for the post. You could also ask for feedback from the interviewer to understand where you could have gone wrong.  I would suggest though that before you decide that failing an interview is a measure of your competence and worth, consider other possibilities. I once coached a client who reflected that growing up anything that happened to her was somehow her fault. If someone beat her up then how she provoked them, she realized that that’s how she reacts to everything that happens to her by finding a reason why she could be at fault.  Re-affirm yourself and focus on improving and developing your skills and looking for other opportunities. Sometimes the failure has nothing to do with you.

Author: Busisiwe Hlatswayo

Published by Hlatswayobusisiwe

MBA (Henley), Career Coach and Founder Black Women in the workplace

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