By Annette Clayton
Faculty Recruiter, American Public University System
After a long job search, it’s a very rewarding feeling to find out you have been selected for an interview and an equally strong feeling to receive notice after the interview that you were not selected. Though it’s disappointing, there are some positives in this situation and it’s important to handle a rejection appropriately.
1. Don’t: Let your emotions get the best of you and respond negatively after receiving a rejection letter. Venting to a recruiter, interviewer, anyone at the company is a big mistake. Although it is frustrating and sometimes heart-wrenching to hear you were not selected, remember it is a business decision and should not be taken personally.
2. Do: Send a thank you email after the rejection letter. It may sound strange to thank someone for rejecting you, but it’s important. In some cases when an individual gives their company their two weeks’ notice, the company will renegotiate some aspect of the employee’s current job in an effort to get them to stay. Employers know that there is a cost to backfill positions and it may make better business sense to offer a salary increase or other incentive. If this happens and the employee accepts the new terms, the competing employer is left in the cold. With their top pick declining the job offer employers are left scrambling for a second candidate. If you were the second choice, your positive note after the interview will be remembered. If you complain to the interviewer or were rude when you received the regret notice, you have just blown your shot. Ensure that your post-rejection email to the interview panel is short and polite. Thank them for the opportunity to interview and let them know you remain interested in future opportunities.
3. Don’t: Ask why you weren’t selected and what you can do to improve yourself in the future. You will rarely get an answer. You were not selected for a reason and asking for feedback is not going to change the reason. This question often puts the interviewer in an awkward position; they have taken time from their busy schedule to interview you, and you have taken your time to participate in the interview. If they are again spending time and resources notifying the candidates not selected, their obligation to you has ended at this point. Asking for more feedback may come off as pushy or combative.
4. Don’t: Turn into a cyber-stalker. Connecting to an interviewer or recruiter on LinkedIn is okay, as the site is geared towards promoting yourself as a professional, connecting on Facebook is rarely okay. While some may use Facebook professionally most people still use it as their personal social media site. When candidates seek me out on Facebook, I find it invasive and immediately block them. To employers this may make you appear pushy, aggressive, or lacking social skills by not being able to properly maintain professional boundaries.
Remember that every interview is a success even if you’re not selected because it’s good practice and it means that something about your background and experience is sparking people’s interest. Take notes after the interview regarding the questions asked, the number of people on the interview panel, etc. Use the experience to your advantage to help you better prepare for your next interview.
About the Author
Annette Clayton has been a Faculty Recruiter with APUS for five years. Her focus includes hiring online Faculty and Directors for the School of Security and Global Studies and Health Sciences. Annette graduated from Salisbury University in 2005 with a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and received her Professional Recruiter Certification in 2014.