Interviewing for a job is a nerve-racking process. Of course it is: You’re basically walking into a room and asking someone to judge you. That’s never a pleasant experience.
And if the interviewer judges you not to be a good fit and you are rejected, the company doesn’t owe you an explanation. Often, it will offer you no additional information about why you weren’t picked.
That leaves your brain to wonder what happened: I spent so many hours preparing. Where did I go wrong? Did the hiring manager not like me? Did I fail a test? Were they looking for someone with more experience or a better education?
The reality is it’s entirely possible you weren’t selected for reasons that had little to do with you. For example, the hiring manager may have already had an internal candidate pre-selected. Or the job could have been put on hold and nobody was hired. Rarely will the company tell you if such things occur.
What often gets lost in the post-rejection agony is an equally important question: What did you think about the company? Did you feel that you were a good fit with the hiring manager? Were you excited about the job? Did you want to work for the company?
Think of interviewing a little more like dating and a little less like taking a test. Sure, you’re not looking for someone to marry, but you are looking for people with whom you’ll spend a considerable amount of time. You may even see your coworkers more than you see your spouse!
You would never go on a first date hoping the person would marry you at the end, so why do so many of us often approach job interviews this way?
The best job is always one where there’s a mutual match. The company likes you, and you like the company. So, rather than spend all of your time worrying about whether the company likes you, shift your focus to whether you like the company. Decide if you really want to spend more than eight hours a day with these folks.
If you do get rejected, don’t assume it’s the end of the line. The company probably doesn’t dislike you. Maybe the timing wasn’t right, or perhaps the interviewer felt you would be a better fit for a different role.
Because you are now on the company’s radar, it’s more likely that someone will reach out again when a new opportunity opens up. Keep your eyes open for other jobs that may be a better fit. If you’re called back in for a different position, make sure to determine whether or not the company is a good fit for you before proceeding.
A version of this article originally appeared in the Memphis Daily News.
Angela Copeland is a career coach and CEO at her firm, Copeland Coaching.