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How to Learn From a Failed Job Interview

by Beth Winston

Most job seekers will go through many interviews before they finally land a job offer. But all of those failed job interviews aren’t necessarily a waste of your time. If you are proactive you can learn a lot when you don’t get the offer, and apply that learning to your next interview to improve your chances of success.

Emotions

Acknowledge that any rejection, especially one that’s as important as a job, is going to be a blow to your ego. If you are rational about this, you can feel a little down without letting rejection crush your confidence. Allow yourself to feel disappointed, but don’t dwell on it excessively or take it personally. Recognize that there will have been several rejected candidates, all of whom may have actually been good prospects for the job. Just because you weren’t picked doesn’t necessarily mean you weren’t a good fit for the position.

Find Out More

Email the hiring manager, thanking her for the opportunity and ask if you can call to have a conversation about your interview performance. Some hiring managers will be open to this possibility, if you are careful not to waste their time. When you speak, ask her to be frank about why you were not selected and what aspects of your interview performance could be improved. Take good notes during this conversation. At the end, reiterate your interest in the company and emphasize that you would like to be considered for any future openings.

Mental Review

Go over the interview in your mind, and note any points at which you feel things did not go well. Analyze why they took a wrong turn and what you could have done differently, or how you could have answered a question more successfully. If you were asked any questions you really didn’t expect, write them down and formulate good answers that you could use in future interviews. If your performance was excessively nervous, practice interviewing with a friend or a video camera until you feel more at ease. If external issues were the problem, such as being inappropriately dressed or arriving late, make a game plan for next time to correct these.

Successful Candidate

Find out who did get the position. You should usually be able to find this out either on the company’s website or through professional social media sites such as LinkedIn. Review the successful candidate’s bio to find out if she has skills or experience you lack. This can give you clues about what similar positions in your industry may require, and you can work toward improving your resume in these areas.

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