The job application process can be cruel and challenging. You spend hours scouring the internet for a job perfectly suited to you and your skills, you construct an award-winning CV, you endure a painstaking wait and, finally, you’re called in for an interview. Then, for one reason or another, everything goes wrong. You stumble over your words; you draw a blank when they ask you an important question; you make a joke that goes down like a lead balloon. Quite frankly, you’d more than welcome the ground opening up and swallowing you whole.
At this stage, you’re probably seeking some career advice on how to recover and recuperate. First of all, remember that everyone has had a terrible interview; you are not alone. Second of all, the whole incident was probably not as horrible as you imagine. Regardless of how traumatised you may be, your interviewers have witnessed worse. They do this for a living and they have seen the worst of the worst in all their splendour. To make yourself feel better, research interview horror stories that will make your experiences seem like a roaring success.
Once you recover from your interview nightmare, follow the steps below to build you up, restore your confidence and help get yourself back on the right career path.
1. Try to turn this knockback into a positive
Looking for the silver lining might be difficult at the moment. After all, the incident is so fresh in your mind, but in time, you’ll realise that getting knocked back for this job opportunity was probably the right call. Remember: they turned you down for a reason. It might be because you were not right for the job, or it may have been because the job was not right for you.
Lots of factors are taken into account when deliberating over who to hire. An increasingly important factor is that of cultural fit. If your personality and attitude would have clashed with the ethos and values of the organisation, you would have been miserable. Equally, you would have been perpetually stressed out if you were hired without the required skills and strengths necessary to perform the role well. Rather than beating yourself up, consider this a blessing in disguise.
Be sure to forgive yourself and realise that this experience will help you improve your game in the future. You will emerge from this incident stronger, tougher and more determined than before.
2. Get feedback on your performance
You might be feeling awkward or sensitive following a rejection, but take this opportunity to gain some feedback on your performance. This will increase the likelihood of you getting hired in the future. You need to know whether you were rejected on grounds of insufficient skill, if your interview technique was flawed, or if you simply don’t have enough experience. Turning your bad interview into a learning experience means that you at least salvage something positive from your time.
Remember to thank your interviewer for the opportunity. This will leave them with a good impression and, if you choose to reapply in the future, they’ll look back on you favourably.
3. Give your CV a makeover
Now is the perfect time to readdress your resume. Did you misrepresent yourself in any way? You may have heard that everyone lies or stretches the truth on their CV, but this is a bad move in the long run. If you claim to have certain skills you don’t really possess, your interviewer will see right through this and you ultimately end up wasting your time and theirs.
Do your research and learn how to write a CV that is eye-catching, powerful and highlights your greatest strengths. There are a number of online resources to guide your research, but remember that the best approach is to be honest and keep your CV professional and concise. During this time, it is also advisable to learn how to write a cover letter. This will help you get your foot in the door and gives your personality a chance to shine.
4. Reassess your career plan
If you didn’t have the skills necessary to adequately perform the job at hand, perhaps it’s time to go back to the drawing board. If you are particularly passionate about this particular career path, you need to find ways and means of building your skills. You are going to be going up against some pretty tough competition whenever you’re called in for an interview, so at the very least, you want to be able to prove that you have the essential skills they’re seeking. This might involve a course or apprenticeship, but you can also develop certain skills while volunteering.
It might be that you’re pursuing this career path simply because it is something you’ve been working towards for a long time. Ask yourself if it’s truly your passion anymore. If not, consider a career transition. Your research might uncover a career that is infinitely better suited to your interests and strengths.
5. Brush up on your interview technique
If your interview went poorly, it may have been a result of your nerves. It might also be because you didn’t prepare as much as you could have. Before your next interview, go online and research the company, its products and services, its culture and its ethos. Try to find people who have been interviewed by this company in the past and learn all you can about their interview process. This will help build your confidence and it will also increase the likelihood of you succeeding.
While you’re researching, remember to take advantage of the various websites with detailed interview tips and tricks. There are resources available to help you appear more confident, to think consciously about the way you speak and even body language hacks that will help get you hired. You can never do enough research and you can never be too prepared.
Above all else, remember that no matter how terrible your interview appeared to be, years from now, you will have difficulty even remembering the details. Never see a knock-back as a failure. You will ultimately find a job that’s perfect for you; keep coming back to this thought and reassure yourself that if you keep trying, you’ll get what you’re looking for.