When you received the news that you were selected for an interview, you were ecstatic! You made sure your outfit was pressed and you definitely had a handle on the 'strengths and weaknesses' question. The night before the interview, you spoke to a friend about how excited you were for the opportunity. In a monologue fit for a Golden Globe nomination, you painstakingly told the story you had perfected over the last several months. With much vigor, you criticized your workplace, your boss and the environment. Quite naturally, you celebrated your own virtues and ended by saying you were ready for a fresh start. Your friend confidently assured you that you would do great!
As you lay in bed, you fantasized about how sweet it would be to quit. As you fell asleep, the scene of you handing your resignation to your boss came on the screen of your mind and you peacefully drifted off with a smile firmly ensconced on your face.
The next morning, you brimmed with confidence. You arrived at your new company with your tool kit of success. In it, you packed your best business attire, your firm handshake and the secret weapon - your winning smile. To you, the interview went off without a hitch and you left certain that you had done everything right to win the job. For good measure, you even sent a handwritten thank you card.
A few days go by. Then a few more. Finally, you receive an email alerting you that the company decided to go in another direction. You read the email twice in an effort to wrap your mind around this reality. Your shock turns to disbelief. Your disbelief turns to confusion, which eventually settles into a seething, but quiet rage.
After a night of sulking, you eventually accept your lot, and begin performing an autopsy on exactly what happened during that interview. You ask yourself what went wrong. Was it my outfit? Did I stutter? Did my leg shake? Countless questions race through your mind, but the central question still remains -- I bombed the interview, now what?
First things first, DO NOT immediately contact the hiring manager while you are still reeling from the bad news. Rejection in any form is never easy -- whether it comes in the form of a personal rejection to the seventh grade dance or a professional rejection in not getting the job. More than likely, the email or the phone call will not do you any favors. Even if the hiring manager responds to you, you might not be in the right frame of mind to accept her feedback.
This is not to say you should not seek insight on why you weren't selected, or advice on how to improve in the future. On the contrary, you should seek these answers. But, if you truly want helpful advice, you should reach out to the hiring manager 7-10 business days after finding out that you did not get the role. This timeframe is important for several reasons. First, there is the distinct possibility that the person who was selected for the role received a counter offer from his current company, or did not pass the background check. Second, there is the distinct possibility that salary negotiations broke down and the candidate decided not to accept the role. During my years in the talent acquisition field, any number of emergencies, changes of heart or mishaps can happen between the extension of an offer letter and a candidate starting their first day of work. The key is to be persistent and strategic in how you approach getting your information after your rejection. Remember, you are still interviewing! How you handle unpleasant news, and your response to it, can be just what you need to call your friend and give an acceptance speech to that monologue you gave the night before your interview.
The U.S. Army utilizes After Action Reviews or AARs. The purpose of an AAR is to analyze what went right and what went wrong during an operation. Not getting the job is as good a time as any to implement an AAR. During this process, it will be necessary to ask yourself serious questions about your preparedness for the interview. Did you know enough about the industry, company AND personnel?
Interviewees should develop a keen knowledge about the industry in which they are looking to work. If you're applying for a job in real estate but cannot speak to industry performance since 2010, you're probably not that prepared for the interview, the company or the job. Being a professional who is ready to assume the role they aspire to means taking the time to understand not just the company you are applying to, but also the industry you are looking to enter. By understanding the industry, you might learn about the company's competitors and any threats posed to the industry, which may be essential to the interview.
Did you do enough research on the company prior to the interview? If it's a publically traded company, did you read their annual report? If you're in sales, did you look at the sales numbers and reference them in your interview? If you're in accounting, did you look at the financials to see what information you could glean? Did you come up with thoughtful questions to ask the interviewer?
Did you know enough about the personnel? Researching the hiring manager you are going to interview with is vital. The ability to make a connection during the interview goes a long way. A 10-minute LinkedIn search could do wonders. A quick look at their profile could reveal that the person went to the same college as you, your dad, your mom or your best friend. Perhaps they worked at a company where one of your friends previously worked. All of this information could be used to foster, develop, create, and most importantly, leverage relationships.
Taking these extra steps may discourage you from working in the industry or applying for the job, thus saving you and the hiring manager time. Alternatively, it may excite you even more about the opportunity before you, showing the hiring manager that you are serious about your future with the company, and potentially differentiating you from the competition.
Start your job search again. You will get another interview. The implementation of the ideas expressed in this post will increase your chances of success! However, you may be asking yourself why didn't I focus on what exactly to say? And, when to say it? The reason I did not write a post that read more like a script is because I've found that research and preparation are the keys to most success stories. Knowing the industry, the company and perhaps the hiring manager will instill confidence in you, which will come across during your interview. It's ok if you bomb the interview. You can learn a lot from a bad experience. The next time you have an interview, your pre-interview monologue will pale in comparison to the acceptance speech you give your friend once you are offered the job. I Got the Job...Now What? Well, that is for another time...