You applied for a job you really wanted and were thrilled to get a timely response for the initial phone screening. This lead to several promising in-person interviews with the hiring manager and people you’d be working with. All the interviews went well and you felt confident after each one.

At the final interview, you learned that you were one of the top candidates and you’d know by the end of the week of the hiring team’s final decision. Each day you waited and hoped to get the good news…that they’d chosen you!

However, you were dismayed when the answer came in the most impersonal way: a four-sentence email, telling you that another candidate had been hired. Your heart ached with disappointment, frustration and resentment.

“What went wrong?” you ask yourself, over and over again. “I was so sure I nailed it…what could I have done differently?” You replay the interviews in your head to detect what mistakes you might have made; and you agonize over what you “should-a, could-a, would-a” done, if only you could rewind time.

Even though this is a natural response to rejection, you won’t move forward by continuing to spin your wheels like this. Here’s what you can do instead, to reach closure, realize your own truths and move onto other opportunities.

  • Send a thank you note to the hiring management team: “Thank you for the opportunity to interview for this position. I enjoyed meeting all of you and wish your new hire success in this position. Please keep me in mind for other opportunities in [XYZ] company that fit my skill set. Thanks again.” This strategy shows maturity and professionalism-and keeps you on their radar in case their first-choice candidate declines the job. You could be next in line!
  • Praise yourself for being a top candidate: You’ve obviously marketed yourself well on paper and in person, since your resume and cover letter caught the attention of the hiring management team; if you hadn’t first connected well on the phone, you wouldn’t have been invited for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd interviews.
  • Self-evaluate your performance on paper: Instead of repeatedly playing out “what if” scenarios in your head, write them down; brainstorm about what you felt went right and what you could have done differently; note any patterns that may surface, which indicate potential areas for improvement in future interviews.
  • Reassess if the job was truly ideal; you might see that it wasn’t, after all: This happened to one of my clients working on the admin team in a CPA firm. She interviewed for an office management job at another branch. When she didn’t get that job, she felt let down, but realized that if she had, she’d be putting in 80-hour workweeks during tax season and commuting home late at night. She soon promoted to a position in the tax department, which was a better fit for her lifesyle and career goals.

While rejection never feels good, it’s part of the job search experience. When you’re ready, continue your search and choose opportunities that are most ideal for you. According to the world’s most successful salespeople, the more “no’s” you get, the closer you are to hearing, “Yes, you’re hired!”

© Joellyn Wittenstein Schwerdlin, The Career Success Coach 2013 All Rights Reserved