It’s a beautiful day and the sun is shining at a mere 80 degrees. I walk into the final interview for a company I dream of working for. It’s been so many rounds of interviews and I’m already stressed. However, at the end of the day, a part of me feels ready. “They have to hire me, I fit the qualifications perfectly” I say. The other part of me is uncertain but also content. “At least I’ve made it this far, most people haven’t”. With mixed emotions, I head into the interview room, ready for whatever questions are asked of me.
As I walk out of the interview, I feel fairly confident in myself. I’ve made it this far, and after several rounds of interviewing, it’s all up to the interviewers to decide. I wait patiently for a week, and then receive an email from the recruiter. It seems optimistic, as I’m excited to speak on the phone. I set up the call the next day and hear what the recruiter has to say. The recruiter says “The team loved your passion and who you are; however, at this time, they are moving on with another candidate”.
The buffer. Then the truth. The way rejection calls always go.
After the call, I sit in defeat. I ask myself questions: “Am I not good enough? What did I do wrong? How could this happen?”. Some of us relate to this situation in which we are hoping to receive good news, but the unfortunate reality is the opposite of what we wanted.
I then realize that this is just a small obstacle in the road of upcoming opportunities. We all experience rejection throughout our lives; it can be in our careers, personal lives, or a combination of both.
In the past two years, I’ve interviewed at several companies including Google, LinkedIn, Deloitte, PwC, Goldman Sachs, and many more. I made it to the final interviews for most of these but unfortunately wasn’t extended an offer. However, those rejections have helped shape my career to this day for the better, whether it is in regards to motivation or perseverance. Here are 7 points I’ve learned from rejection and how we can use it to better ourselves:
1. Everything happens for a reason: Although you may have been rejected from your dream job, know that more doors of opportunity will come your way. Always look at the bright side and know that everything will eventually fall into place; it’s only a matter of time until you get to where you want to be.
2. Setbacks are setups for comebacks: Setbacks are meant to motivate you to bring you up from failures, not bring you down. By taking one step back, we want to take two steps forward. Think positively and know that better things are ahead as long as you put the work in and learn from past experiences.
3. Don’t retract, react: When we are rejected, there are those who retract, meaning they isolate themselves and think they are not good enough. However, it is how we react to rejection that sets us apart. Rejection should motivate us to land that next dream opportunity, ultimately learning from the past and making the future better. For example, Michael Jordan was rejected and cut by his varsity high school team his sophomore team. Although he was cut, he reacted to this rejection by working as hard as he could to be the best not only at his school but to ultimately dominate the game he loved on a national level. Now, he is arguably the best NBA basketball player to ever play the game.
4. First time doesn’t mean last time: Just because you get rejected doesn’t mean you will not have another opportunity; for many of the most prestigious companies, candidates don’t land the job on their first try. Keep in touch with those you interviewed and connected with during the process, as there may be future opportunities that will soon arise. Always remember to have the 2 P’s: persistence and patience.
5. Learn from feedback and previous mistakes: After interviewing, some companies will give you feedback regarding your interviews and what you did right/wrong. Learn from this feedback by writing down what you could have done better, whether it was a question during the interview or a specific topic. Make a Google Doc with all the interview questions you remember and master answering them as thorough as possible.
6. Always give 100%: I call this the “cost of 99%”. It refers to always giving it your all in everything you do. If you prepare only 99%, the 1% may be the reason why you’ll be rejected. That 1% might also be the reason why you’re not reaching your potential. As the saying says, “99% is hard. 100% is easy”, as it doesn’t matter how slowly you achieve your dreams and ambitions as long as you don’t stop working towards them.
7. Paralysis over analysis: Sometimes, we try to control things we cannot control. When we try to do this, we mess up, whether it is during an interview or another stressful situation. We should try not to limit ourselves and solely focus on things that may go wrong; instead, we should remain optimistic, and in turn, it will help us build confidence going into any situation where rejection but acceptance may be the outcomes.
The next time you’re rejected, remember that it isn’t the end of the world; it’s only the beginning of something new. Sometimes, things aren’t meant to happen right away, and we can’t always get everything we want. We have to be patient, as we thrive not when we’ve done it all but when we still have more to do. Keep striving for greatness despite rejections and setbacks because when it’s all said and done, it’s up to you to get to where you want to be.
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The year was 2020. We met Gary Pierre during our Wonsulting Project 2020, an initiative we launched to help thousands of job-seekers land internships and offers during the pandemic.