Coping with rejection after an interview

By Robert Half on 5th February 2017

When you have built up your hopes and things don’t go in favour it can feel heart-breaking. One small comfort is that everyone experiences rejection at some point in their careers and coping with that rejection is a way of moving on. Many famous household names received rejection at one stage of their careers, from JK Rowling to Bill Gates, and Albert Einstein and even Winston Churchill. These figures all had one thing in common – they all got back on the saddle.

So whether you’re applying for your first professional role, or you’re looking for the next step up the ladder, these are some of the ways of coping with that rejection and staying motivated to continue your job search:

Ask for feedback

You may receive an email from the hiring manager or a phone call from your recruitment consultant to inform you that you won’t moving to the next stage of the interview process, and won’t be receiving that much anticipated job offer. While this can be difficult to hear and you may want to end the conversation quickly, this is a good opportunity to ask for constructive feedback.

When you receive the information, try to split the reasoning into:

  • Your skills and experience – were your examples/achievements strong enough? Did you miss out on an opportunity to highlight a skill that was vital to the role?
  • The other applicants – what did the successful candidate have that you didn’t? How could you match them in the future?
  • Interview style – If you managed to get through to the interview stage, also consider asking about how you went in the interview? You may be able to get some interview tips on how you could improve for your next job interview.

Next time, prepare mentally beforehand

Preparing yourself mentally beforehand can be a way of building up strength should you be unsuccessful. According to Psychology Today, knowing the probability of rejection beforehand can provide a psychological buffer should the worst happen.


Resilient people have a capacity to respond to pressure and tough demands, and rebound strongly from setbacks. Resilience is an active process, and one which can therefore be improved and strengthened. Thinking positively, congratulating your own successes, and being realistic about what can and can’t be achieved will build up toughness and combat the effects of stress. The more resilience you have, the more likely that will naturally manifest itself following failure, and therefore build up your chances of succeeding next time.


You’ve had the feedback from those who mattered and you’re looking for a logical reason why things didn’t turn out. You know things you can rectify and where you may need to develop further, so start putting things into place.

Don’t let rejection get you down. Coping with rejection requires you to stay motivated and strong while building up resilience. Self-improvement and reflection, combined with a healthy dose of optimism, will ensure that the effects of rejection do not linger.

If you are in the process of applying for your next role, visit our career advice articles for best practice CV and cover letter tips

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