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How to Respond to a Refusal After Interview

by Ellie Williams

As tempting as it is to ignore an employment rejection, especially if you’re embarrassed or angry, you’ll gain more by following up with the employer. If you handle it with tact, you’ll impress him with your willingness to face difficult situations and conversations. You may even open up the door for future employment with the company.

Who to Contact

Normally when you follow up after an interview, you send a thank-you letter to everyone with whom you interacted. When responding to a rejection, however, only contact the decision-makers in the hiring process. This typically includes either the hiring manager or human resources representative, and sometimes both. Take your cue from the rejection and reply only to those people who signed the letter or called to give you the bad news.

Show Appreciation

Email, call or send the employer a letter within 24 hours. Not only is this common courtesy, it also demonstrates your professionalism and your interest in the job. Begin your follow-up by thanking the employer for considering you and taking the time to meet with you. No matter how hurt or disappointed you are, never blame the employer or downplay the effort he took getting to know you. Congratulate him on finding a strong candidate and wish both him and the new employee success. Keep it positive by telling the employer you enjoyed speaking with him, touring the facility or meeting other members of the team.

Ask for Feedback

Many employers will share their reasons for choosing another candidate if you explain the information will help you refine your job search and interviewing techniques. Ask the employer what qualifications attracted him to the other applicant. This will help you determine any weaknesses that may be costing you job opportunities so you can strengthen your skills or learn new ones. You can also ask what you can do to be a stronger candidate for openings at the company in the future.

Leave the Door Open

Instead of viewing a rejection as a dead end, approach it as a networking opportunity. Tell the employer how much you enjoyed talking with him and ask if he’d like to get to get together for coffee sometime to discuss the latest developments in your industry. If there’s a networking event or industry conference coming up, suggest meeting up there. He may introduce you to other key players in your industry and if you can establish a relationship with him, he could even become a mentor. Also, tell the employer you’d like to be considered for future openings and ask if you can follow up with him periodically.

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