Those words usually stab the heart with all the subtlety of a dagger. I remember getting them well, especially after an unusually long and hope-filled interview process with one insurance company I had applied with. They were hiring a business continuity planner. I had the qualifications and experience, but barely—so although I applied for the job, I didn’t expect any response.
Imagine my surprise, then, when I was called for a phone interview. I barely remember it, except that I ended up interviewing while driving on the freeway. Not something I would recommend to jobseekers, I’ll just say that. But it was successful enough to get me a string of three in-person interviews, one with each of the different departments I would be working with. Each interview was charged with positive energy. I just knew this job was mine.
Then I waited. They said they’d have a decision in a week, but it ended up being 3. Finally, they called me at 4:59 in the evening, and they gave me that dismal line that dashed all my hopes: “Sorry, we decided to go with someone else.”
A few days ago a jobseeker of mine went through an identical letdown. I felt it with her, as I had helped her with the application and cover letter, and we had prepared for just about every interview question we could think of. Where did we go wrong?
That, however, is not the question to ask; rather, ask: “what did I learn?”
So here are my 3 positive takeaways:
- You GOT to the interview stage! This is no small feat. In many cases you have already beat out dozens of other candidates to get that all-important face time. And one thing this does mean: even if you didn’t get the job, you WERE qualified. Employers wouldn’t take the time to interview if you weren’t. Moreover, you know your resume is doing something right – it did its job. It can do it again.
- You expanded your network. Hopefully you got the contact information of the interviewer to send a thank-you note afterward. Now use it to grow your network. Let them know you harbor no ill feelings, and would like to stay in touch in case something else comes along.
- If nothing else, you got real-time interview practice. You never walk into an interview with the job already in hand, so you don’t lose anything; you only stand to gain—a job, a new contact, some interview experience.
I’ll provide a little tool I use to turn every interview into a learning experience in my next blog.