Image 2023 08 08 T03 44 42

How to deal with being turned down for a job

Search by
Search by blog tags

How to deal with being turned down for a job


For as long as there have been jobs, people have been getting turned down for them. It's been happening for centuries but your confidence can still take a hit when it happens to you - so it's important to stay positive and learn what you can.

Here are six key tips for moving on after missing out, and using the experience to better yourself, your interview skills and your chances of success next time round.

 

----------
 

1. Go to every interview you can

When searching for your next move, it's important to consider potential roles carefully to see which of them you really want - but there's value in pursuing the other opportunities too.

Even if you've got an interview for that dream job, there's no harm in having a backup plan in case it doesn't work out.

Remember too that there's only so much a job description or advert can tell you. The only way you'll really know if an organisation is right for you is by meeting them, so it's worth attending every interview you're offered. The role that seemed perfect on paper might turn out not to be, while your third or fourth choice might jump into first place once you've been there and heard more.

If nothing else, every interview is great practice for the next and will help to narrow down exactly where you do (and don't) want to work.

 

2. Ask for feedback

It's always disappointing to be turned down, but it's important to understand the reasons.

If the interviewer felt you weren't quite the right fit for the role, can they explain why? Or were you 99% ideal but someone else was just that tiny bit more so?

Some employers are more forthcoming than others with feedback, but you have the right to request it (and a good recruitment agency will chase it on your behalf) to see what you can learn.

Ask them to be as specific as possible so you can take their points on board and work on those areas. For example if you needed to give more detailed answers, provide stronger examples, demonstrate broader knowledge of the field, or be clearer about why you wanted the role, these are all things you can work on for the next time.


3. Remember it's nothing personal

Often the reason you weren't offered the job may have little to do with you personally.

It could be as simple as an insufficient budget to match the salary you're looking for, concern that the role won't live up to your expectations, or another candidate may just have had that bit more experience in certain aspects of the role.

If that's the case, are there opportunities where your experience and salary expectations would be a closer match with the job on offer? These are the ones to target if so.

If not, you're on the right track so all you can do is stay positive and keep trying! You might not have landed this particular role, but just getting the interview shows you were in serious consideration, so there's every chance you'll succeed before long.

 

4. Focus on your strong points

Every bit of feedback will help to identify what others see as your strengths and weaknesses, and the better you know these, the more you can accentuate the positives.

You might find that others' perceptions differ from your own, so it's worth thinking about why that might be. If there's a strength or talent that others aren't seeing, how can you make sure that comes across in your next interview?

Most interviewers will ask about weaknesses too, and again self-knowledge is key. Everybody has their flaws (and how much would you trust someone who claims not to?), so being able to identify one or two and explain how you're tackling them shows you have a good degree of self-awareness: and that's another tick for the 'strengths' column. Result!

 

5. Stay positive

Difficult as it may be at first, it's important to stay positive after being turned down for a role, as you'll need to be upbeat and confident for your next interviews.

Once you get to those meetings, don't bring up past rejections and avoid being disparaging about past interviewers or employers. A positive attitude will be more attractive to potential employers than someone who's perfectly qualified on paper but has a negative outlook and little enthusiasm for the work.

 

6. Move on

Most importantly, don't let the rejection get you down. None of the other applicants (bar one) got the job either, so you're far from alone and it's not a value judgment on you as a person.

Approach all interviews with a fresh attitude, and while you may not relish the thought of more interviews, don't let it stop you from applying - they're just as much an opportunity for you to check out the organisation as for them to learn about you. So the more you do, the more you'll know where you really want to be.

Remember, if you weren't 'quite right for the role', there's a very good chance the role wasn't quite right for you either. But the right one IS out there somewhere, and everything you can learn from every interview will help you track it down sooner!

  • Image 2022 11 26 T23 39 23

    Opportunity for all

    Find out how we’re working to deliver more diverse, equitable and inclusive recruitment…

    Find out more

  • Image 2022 11 26 T23 39 23

    Recruiting a charity CEO?

    Our executive recruitment specialists have an exceptional record of successful CEO, chair, trustee and…

    Find out more

  • The Harris Hill Salary Survey 2024

    Charity sector salaries

    Check out the market rate for your charity role in the latest Harris Hill Salary Survey.

    View our latest survey

News and insights

For more careers and recruitment advice: Read the Harris Hill Blog
Blogthumb Marketing 2

2024 Salary Survey: marketing, PR and digital trends

Focusing on one area of expertise gives our specialists a clear view of what's happening in their field across the sector, insights you'll find in the 2024 Harris Hill Salary Survey, together with current rates for around 200 charity and not for profit sector positions.​​You can view the full survey via the link above, but here's what the team had to say about the current market for charity pro...

Read more
Blogthumb Fundraising

2024 Salary Survey: fundraising market trends

The 2024 Harris Hill Salary Survey is out now, and along with current rates for around 200 charity and not for profit positions, we look at trends in the job market by area of expertise and across the sector. You can view or download the survey here to check out the figures, but here’s what we had to say about the market and current trends within fundraising.​​​Market overviewThis year’s figure...

Read more
Blogthumb Final

Thinking of temping? Here’s what to consider…

Temping offers flexibility, variety and a chance to boost your CV - but is it right for you?​ Hear from current Harris Hill temps as freelance writer and guest blogger Nicola Greenbrook explores...Do you ever catch yourself gazing out of the window, dreaming about a work life that breaks away from the conventional nine-to-five? Are you someone with multiple interests and many interconnecting ca...

Read more
Blog Thumb 2

Celebrating UK charity jobs for UK Charity Week 2023!

It's UK Charity Week 2023, so join us for a whirlwind festive tour of some of the best opportunities with charities around the country!​Yes, even though it feels about 30 seconds since you bundled last year’s decorations into an overstuffed box in the loft*, it’s December already, which means it’s time to get them down but more importantly, time for UK Charity Week 2023, celebrating the brillia...

Read more
B Corp Blogthumb Final

Harris Hill is now a Certified B Corporation

We're delighted to share the news that Harris Hill is now B Corp Certified! It makes us part of a global community of businesses meeting high standards of social and environmental impact, accountability and transparency, and leading the transformation of the global economic system. That's a big ambition, but at the simplest level, being certified is recognition that we're here for the right rea...

Read more
Blogthumb 2

Access all areas: how to use the Recite Me toolbar

As part of our diversity and inclusion strategy, the Harris Hill website now features the award-winning Recite Me assistive toolbar, providing a wide range of accessibility and language support tools for a more inclusive online experience. Here’s an overview of the benefits and how to use it.​There’s a lot to look out for when you’re searching for a new job online. In most cases, you'll actual...

Read more
Blogthumb

Meet the 2023 Charity Softball finalists!

​Landing just ahead of the big day and 20th anniversary celebrations, meet the teams playing for glory in the 2023 Charity Softball League!Like any other year, 2003 gave the world some things we’d rather it hadn’t - war in Iraq, the SARS outbreak, the Black Eyed Peas – but over the course of that long hot summer, it also gave us (courtesy of founding father Leo Visconti) something we’re very gl...

Read more