Receiving a rejection after a job interview can be devastating. Whether you had three interviews or ten, you were all in. Otherwise, you wouldn’t have snuck away from your existing job to interview. The process of interviewing for a job is a lot like dating. The longer it goes on, the more you can picture your new future. You begin to layout plans in your mind.
It’s not hard to do this. In fact, it’s natural. In the first interview, you’re expected to share how soon you are able to start working. And, through the process you are often ask to lay out your ninety day plan. You’re asked to design the strategy you might later implement. In order to perform well in a job interview, you must picture yourself in the new role.
Unfortunately, this comes at a high personal cost to many job seekers. Job interviews with one company can often span over multiple months. I’ve personally observed interviews as long as six months. You jump over hoop after hoop. You connect with your new team. The problem is that many companies take more than one candidate through this grueling process. It is not unusual to have at least two, if not three, finalists.
It’s also not uncommon for the company to tell you that you’re definitely getting the job. They do this because they feel optimistic in the moment. They do it to keep you engaged in their months-long interview process.
If the company hires someone, all other candidates are rejected. But, sometimes the company chooses not to hire anyone at all. To be honest, many companies look at interviewing candidates like you might try on shoes at a store. If they aren’t a perfect match, they put them back and go about their day. Rarely does a company truly understand the impact to the individual job seeker.
But, this doesn’t make it hurt any less. It often makes the job seeker question their identity. You may find yourself wondering if you took a wrong turn somewhere. You will very likely grieve the loss of the future you would have had. You feel the pain of being stuck in your current situation.
Know that these are normal emotions. If you weren’t all in on a company, you wouldn’t land the job interviews. And, it’s a real loss. But, it doesn’t make you any less of a professional. It doesn’t mean you should change your career path. If you made it to the final round, realize that you did a great job. And, if the company gives you an excuse about why you weren’t selected, remember that it’s an excuse. It may or may not be accurate.
Whatever you do, keep going. Keep applying. Keep interviewing. Grieve, but keep moving forward. And, don’t give up on your dreams. One company having a disorganized, insensitive interview process is not a reflection on your own career potential.