It comes with the territory that if one is invited to a job interview, rejection is always a possibility and rejection is not a pleasant emotion to encounter. That said, it doesn’t have to be a crushing experience.
I am reminded of my experiences with unsuccessful interviews. There was one in particular that I felt I met all the requirements of the position and may have even a bit overqualified. The interview went great, I thought the chemistry was there and I was quite confident that I did well. That was until I didn’t get the job. I was really crushed. It was a real blow to my confidence and made me question whether I was really as good as I thought I was.
After some reflection I realized that I really did not know why I did not get the job. In my experience when I would be the hiring manager during a recruitment process. I have learned that there could be a number of reasons why a candidate is not chosen. Some of them have nothing to do with the competence of the said candidate. I had no reason to internalise a rejection that might have nothing to do with me. I at least did not have enough information to know either way.
Some of the possible reasons for an unsuccessful interview are the following:
· The job has been advertised to legitimise an appointment of a candidate that has already been selected. The company recruitment policy might prohibit the appointment of a candidate without an interview process.
· There might have been a candidate that is a better fit for the company culture or the management style of the hiring manager
· Unfair bias on the candidates because of race, gender, sexual orientation, etc.
One of the reasons why we may internalize rejection from unsuccessful interviews is the media bias to only reporting on the success and brilliance of Highly successful people and rarely on their failures. Social media has also added to this condition where the trend is to only share stories or experiences of success and never of failures. This might lead to the assumption that those who are successful are perfect and have never experienced any failure.
The book Mistakes I made at work by Jessica Bacal narrates stories of failure and mistakes by very successful women like Cheryl Streyd bestselling author of Wild and Carol Dweck bestselling author of Mindset – The new psychology of success, among others. The book is important because it demonstrates that successful people also make mistakes and experience failure. Mistakes or failures do not have to define us and we, therefore, do not need to internalise them.
Psychology tells us that the subconscious mind, as a means of creating meaning, often codes certain experiences with certain emotions, in order to direct us to pursue or avoid similar experiences in the future. Often this association happens during childhood when we were not old enough to decipher the appropriate meaning of an experience. An incidence of rejection in adulthood, like an unsuccessful interview, may trigger an unresolved childhood wound of rejection. Resulting in a reaction that is out of proportion to the experience.
The ‘Good girl syndrome’, the condition where girls are raised or conditioned to please; may results in the fear of making mistakes and an unrealistic need to be perfect. This may result in the avoidance of situations that present the risk of criticism or rejection. If we allow ourselves to associate interviews with rejection, we might find ourselves avoiding the risk of failure and staying in unfulfilling positions or only applying for positions that we are overqualified for and will therefore pay us less than our skills are worth.
If you have landed that interview and for some reason, it doesn’t go well, don’t allow one or a couple of interviews to serve as a measure of your competence. Don’t let your unresolved feelings of rejection hold you back from getting the job you deserve. Take a break, shake it off, and get back in there, your dream job may be on the other side of failure.