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Negative Interview Feedback: How To Handle It

By Simon on

It is unequivocally unpleasant to be rejected after a long and drawn out interview process, especially with negative feedback. My advice is to try not to take it to heart and concentrate your efforts on finding a role which is a closer match for your personal aspirations. I fully appreciate that it is very easy for me to say because I am immersed in recruitment. But I am a believer in the idea that some things are meant to be!  I’ve seen many candidates take a knock or two during their search for a new role but go onto have successful careers at other companies.

This Might Not Be The Role For You

It is worth remembering that just because you are not right for one role does not mean you won’t be a match made in heaven for the next you go for! Do take on board that you can have an off day – we all have them! Your confidence in any domain can fluctuate at different times. Sometimes we have to make a choice between a conservative approach to an interview or a more risky approach that may pay off and improve your chances. As the old saying goes ‘some you win, some you lose’. This may be the best approach to take to interviews.

The moral of the story is that people will always make assumptions about you. Whether that is an interviewer, colleague, friend or the person sitting opposite you on a train! They may even reach the point of making up random theories about who you are and what you are like! In truth, you’ve probably done exactly the same thing in reverse. At times, we all behave like amateur psychologists trying to work out what other people are like. Therefore, if you take a knock back from an interview – who’s to say the employer hasn’t missed out on the next CEO? Facebook turned down Brian Acton – how much did they pay him for Whatsapp four years down the line?!

Dealing With Negative Feedback

It’s useful to take on board constructive feedback. It will help you with subsequent interviews. An interviewer who takes time to provide you with detailed feedback is always worth listening to, particularly if they are respected within their industry. It is normally these types of people who run respectable businesses. And, more often than not, they retain a consistent level of staff turnover. Furthermore, different people perceive us in different ways. So while some feedback can be very useful, I would not advocate taking everything to heart.

Over the years, I’ve have helped many employers find suitably qualified candidates. But in all honesty, the main criteria for taking someone on is always the same. Namely, whether you seem employable. This may be stating the obvious, but employability is an attribution someone makes about your likelihood to contribute positively to their business, or to help their commercial interests. To be employable and successful at an interview means to be perceived as a positive influence on the company or an attractive business partner. The three key things most employers will look for in someone is that you are competent (can and will do the job), conscientious (you will get stuff done), and likeable (why employ someone difficult!). It’s worth thinking about these positive attributes prior to any interview.

It’s Not All Bad

Do take on board that, for some, interviews can be relatively easy. But for the majority, they can be quite a tense experience. The more you attend, the more practiced you will become. And one will eventually lead to an offer.

It took me 104 applications (hand written in my day) and well over ten interviews to get my first job in an advertising agency. But, unfortunately, I’m no Brian Acton!

Take the positive and constructive feedback on board and the negative feedback with a pinch of salt.