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What to Do When You Don’t Get the Job

Episode overview

It’s easy to know what to do when you land a job, but what about when you don’t?

Pete is joined once again by HR consultant, Ricky Baez, on today’s episode of the Finding Career Zen podcast to discuss job rejection. Despite how well you prepare for the news, you will undoubtedly be disappointed and upset when it happens. Ricky explains that how you handle the situation often determines what happens next. He shares three tips to help you can make the most of your experience.

Tune in now and start taking every failure as an opportunity to learn!

Connect with Pete and Ricky on LinkedIn!

24 minutes

View transcript

Steps to take when you don’t get the job

  • Thank the recruiter for their time and the opportunity. When you receive the call that you didn’t get the job, a decision has already been made. You may be feeling hurt in the moment, but bite your tongue and say it anyways. It will serve you better long term. 
  • Ask for feedback. Don’t get upset or rebut it, but acknowledge what the interviewer saw and how you came across. Doing this will not only raise your awareness for the next interview but also send the message that you want to improve.
  • Continue to communicate with your recruiter. These individuals are valuable and tangible assets. Slowly begin to build that relationship, so you’ll be at the top of their mind when a new position opens up.

Additional resources

About Pete Newsome

Pete Newsome headshot

Pete Newsome is the President and founder of zengig, which he created after spending two decades in staffing and recruiting. He’s also the founder of 4 Corner Resources, the nationally acclaimed and award-winning staffing and recruiting firm he started out of a home office in 2005. Pete’s primary mission back then was the same as it is today: to do business in a personal way; with a commitment to zengig becoming the most comprehensive source of expert advice, tools, and resources for career growth and happiness. When he’s not in the office or spending time with his family of six, you can find Pete sharing his career knowledge and expertise through public speaking, writing, and as the host of the Finding Career Zen & Hire Calling podcasts.


Pete Newsome 00:00
You’re listening to the Finding Career Zen Podcast. I’m Pete Newsome. I’m with Ricky Baez today on a beautiful Friday morning Ricky how are you?

Ricky Baez 00:08
Yes, it is beautiful that sun finally came out not like 20 minutes ago.

Pete Newsome 00:11
You have your radio voice go on this morning.

Ricky Baez 00:14
I do because I think we’ve done this a lot today.

Pete Newsome 00:20
We know anyone listening is not supposed to know we’ve had two false starts this morning. I will say that they’re completely my fault.

Ricky Baez 00:28
It happens we’re human beings, Pete.

Pete Newsome 00:31
It happens and what a perfect segue into our theme today that not everything works out as you would like for it to and that is true in podcast recording as is true in the job search process so boy it’s almost like it that faith was on our side with us.

Ricky Baez 00:50
It flowed like you know what, let’s show them exactly what this is all about. Yeah, Pete, we always talk about how we help people, helping people in finding that job, how to how engage recruiters are engaged with organizations.

Ricky Baez 01:06
And for the longest time, I think people focused on little segments of the entire process where you and I are taking a look at the entire picture and kind of being the GPS of the candidate.

Ricky Baez 01:17
So we talked about how to interview and how to prep for the interview. What do you do after the interview if you got the job, but what happens if you don’t get the job?

Pete Newsome 01:27
Yeah, and it’s something that is a major part of, what people do experience on both sides, the interviewer and the interviewee. But rarely doesn’t a manager hire, and interview only one candidate for a role.

Pete Newsome 01:43
What happens but in my experience is that most of the time more than one candidate is interviewed. That means there’s going to be someone losing out on that job.

Pete Newsome 01:54
And the decision not going in their favor most of the time. So how you handle that is a reality that most people have to face I’ve had to face it, have you?

Ricky Baez 02:04
Oh, definitely, definitely. I here’s so I’m about to tell you what, what A hiring authority feels like when they make an offer. Because of what I do, I always call the person who got the offer, who we want to offer to make sure we accept that before we call the other two flight finalists.

Ricky Baez 02:20
So once they accept I call the two finalists, and when they’re really nice, like really, really cordial and nice. I feel bad that I didn’t offer them the job. Right now that’s my emotion, right?

Ricky Baez 02:33
Because I’m like, oh, man, I can’t believe I’m hurting this person’s feelings, but I feel bad about it. And that’s what I tell people, how you treat the relationship with the recruiter after you don’t get the job. You’re supposed to make the recruiter feel bad.

Ricky Baez 02:49
That’s how good of a job you’re supposed to do.

Ricky Baez 02:52
Afterward, make him feel bad, not in a bad way. Right. But you know, make him feel make that conversation so memorable that when it happened when another position comes up again, they’ll know to remember you and just go out to you instead of you applying over again.

Pete Newsome 03:07
And that’s such an important thing to acknowledge in it’s hard at the moment if especially if it’s a job that you wanted, you’re disappointed you have some people get angry.

Pete Newsome 03:19
That happens too. But I could tell story after story after story of candidates who weren’t initially selected for a role but ended up having a different opportunity come their way as a result of that interview.

Pete Newsome 03:36
Maybe a different job within the same organization may be the same job if the initial candidate doesn’t work out, or the role expands and there are more people that can be hired.

Pete Newsome 03:47
I mean there I mean being in staffing I have dozens and dozens of stories about that so just because at the moment it didn’t go your way you didn’t get the answer that you wanted and hoped for.

Pete Newsome 04:00
How you act from that moment forward can often dictate whether something good comes your way or doors closed forever and it’s a round world in being in staffing it like anyone who’s in staffing knows it is a round world and you kind of think ahead a little bit depending on who you ask.

Ricky Baez 04:26
So that’s another episode. Yeah. So it’s, it’s how you said it best how you treat that relationship app or afterward will open or shut doors for you.

Ricky Baez 04:37
So this is why I’ve got three tips here P that is that are going to help people as soon as you’re done interviewing and you send your thank you know we talked about what’s better, whether it’s an email or whether there is a personal buy in a handwritten note, but when they call you to let you know you did not get the job.

Ricky Baez 04:56
Let me tell you this, you’re not wrong. Long in feeling hurt, all those feelings are valid. You just can’t act on them. Right? So you are a human being, you are going to get disappointed, you just can’t act on them. So when they call you to let you know, please understand a decision has already been made.

Ricky Baez 05:18
So whatever urge you have to try to convince them otherwise, and how to answer something different or give more information that time has passed and not waste any time on that.

Ricky Baez 05:27
Thank them for the opportunity. That’s the first one to thank them for the opportunity. Acknowledge how much time it took to put this together. Uh, you know, just thank you for the time being really cold. Your weather? What do you think about that?

Pete Newsome 05:41
Yeah, I think that’s good, really good advice. And it’s, it’s when you’re disappointed. And even, you know, there’s a, it’s, at times, I think, a candidate who’s interviewing sees the company is making the decision. And yes, there’s a company, but there are individuals behind those decisions.

Pete Newsome 06:01
And they’re not easy. I mean, this is a very general statement I’m going to make but if I, there are almost two categories of interviews that happen when the ruin, someone’s not selected, it’s because there was a better candidate for whatever criteria is being applied either skill set, experience, interpersonal skills, those criteria vary greatly from job to job and situation to situation.

Pete Newsome 06:28
But there’s a better candidate, and when that happens, there’s emotion involved with the interviewers as well, or who will say, Oh, gosh, I really like this person, I mean, is being in recruiting, we get those calls where the manager wishes a, they didn’t have to deliver that news.

Pete Newsome 06:47
And that’s real, those feelings are real. So even though you’re disappointed, you know that that happens a lot. Now, the other quick part is when the candidate is just not a good fit for the role at all.

Pete Newsome 07:01
Maybe the personality wasn’t a good fit, and there’s no there was no emotional connection made. That does happen a lot, too. Usually, both sides know when that happens.

Pete Newsome 07:11
And the candidate senses it through the interview process. But the hard ones, and the ones we’re really talking about now, I think are the ones where, you know, there, there really is a disappointment on the, on the manager side as well, who’s doing the interviewing, and I know the kid doesn’t care about it at the moment, to your point, look past the moment, thank them for their time.

Pete Newsome 07:34
And even if you don’t want to, you should and that’s a reality of life at times where, you know, I don’t want to do this. I don’t feel like doing this. I’m angry. I’m upset. Yes, you, rightfully so. But you know, bite your tongue and say it anyway, because it will serve you better long term.

Ricky Baez 07:58
That’s right. No, you’re right. It definitely will again, it’s one of those just those human traits that you have to control, your logic has to take over because it’s going to be a gut punch. Right? So

Pete Newsome 08:11
no, I mean, I think the same thing applies to MS is just a little bit of a side note, but when you’re terminated if you were terminated as well, that’s when there are feelings of anger and frustration and disappointment and there’s a desire at times to lash out at at the former employer what is now becoming your former employer.

Pete Newsome 08:31
But even then just know and I know we’ve talked about this a lot there, it’s a part of business it’s a necessary part it’s the bad part of the business but just like death is a part of life it happens to companies when they’re not having financial success when they need to downsize, they will have to make hard decisions.

Pete Newsome 08:53
But again, in my experience as a recruiter often in the middle of these decisions, right we’re not making it but sometimes we’re often having to communicate it I can tell you that no one’s happy when either side goes in and a lot of times even worse the managers who are having to make these decisions they may be getting that call next.

Pete Newsome 09:15
And so you know just remember at the moment that there is a tomorrow and us and it’s hard to do but that’s why we’re talking about it because we do want that on everyone’s mind if they’re faced with that disappointing news.

Ricky Baez 09:32
Yeah, and that should be another episode of what to do when you get set in voluntary separate. How do you handle that?

Ricky Baez 09:38
So you just gave me a great idea for another episode for zengig, but yeah, it’s, it’s you’ve got to be able to cultivate that relationship going forward.

Ricky Baez 09:48
And this is how you started. So you thank them for the opportunity. That’s the first one. The second one is gonna take a lot for somebody to take this in.

Ricky Baez 09:57
Ask for feedback. Absolutely. Ask for feedback. And do not get upset with the feedback they give you do not rebut it, just take the feedback and understand what they saw.

Ricky Baez 10:11
Because remember, just because you put out this communication, it doesn’t mean that’s what they saw. Right? You want to acknowledge what they saw and how you came across it.

Ricky Baez 10:20
That way you are aware of the next one. So if you ask for feedback, that’s going to send the message like, man, okay, this person wants to improve the scene, all the right things, again, you try to make him feel better about the decisions he made. I say that jokingly, but you know, it’s, it does work.

Pete Newsome 10:38
If you have to continue to draw on my experiences in recruiting, we will. When we present a candidate for consideration, we assume, we don’t assume but based on them, that’s the wrong way to phrase it all, we expect that that candidate will be interviewed.

Pete Newsome 10:58
Based on all the communication we had up until that point of our understanding of the hiring need, and our assessment of the candidate who was presenting, that doesn’t happen 100% of the time, sometimes candidates are declined.

Pete Newsome 11:13
In that stage, we insist on feedback in order to present another candidate because we’ve invested as recruiters we’ve invested time and effort in understanding the role qualifying it on the front end, working with a candidate and for us to present a candidate, we’ve asked a lot of them to get to that point.

Pete Newsome 11:33
And so there’s a lot of time invested on both sides. So if we’re not able to get solid, in thorough feedback, we’re not willing to continue to work on the role, because we clearly thought that the candidate we initially presented was the right fit.

Pete Newsome 11:51
And if we’re being told that they’re not, then there’s a breakdown in the communication, something’s wrong. And there’s no reason for us to continue down the path that we were already on.

Pete Newsome 12:00
So feedback is a huge thing in the world of, staffing, hiring, and interviewing. And so you have that opportunity to ask for it and absorb it again, not at the moment, necessarily, it may lack meaning, and you may not be able to appreciate the feedback, but get it anyway.

Pete Newsome 12:22
Because you it’s gonna be really hard to go back after the fact and obtain it. Now, I’m gonna go even further. And since you brought it up and say, to ask for feedback in the interview initially.

Pete Newsome 12:37
So in a way, I recommend phrasing that as saying, Have I shared everything that I can to lead you to believe that I’m the right candidate for this job?

Pete Newsome 12:47
And if not, please let me know. I’m a fan of putting people on the spot while you can.

Pete Newsome 12:53
Because addressing it after the fact is different. In having the opportunity to address it in the moment or another way to phrase it, is there any reason? Do you have any doubt that I’m the right candidate for the job? If so, why?

Pete Newsome 13:09
Right. Now, what’s your take on that? I mean, that puts people on the spot in that but I think candidates have that, you know, every interview should have an opportunity to for the candidates to ask questions.

Pete Newsome 13:23
And I’m, I’m just a big believer that you need to strike while the iron is hot.

Ricky Baez 13:30
So okay, we did not talk about this before the show. So this is a surprise for me. Should you ask, you know what, here’s why.

Ricky Baez 13:42
Now, this is for me, this is my advice for anybody, this is how I would take it that would mess me up. Because if I asked that question, Have I conveyed everything that will make you feel that I’m the best candidate?

Ricky Baez 13:53
If they’re like, Well, we have some more questions, that automatically tells me I was not in the top spot.

Ricky Baez 13:59
That automatically tells me and then I’m gonna have I’m gonna feel like I’m gonna have to keep just giving more examples because now I know that I didn’t do well.

Pete Newsome 14:11
Well, then, but that’s the whole point. Right?

Pete Newsome 14:14
You know, and if bad news early is good news. I’m a big believer in that. It’s a phrase I repeat often, because the sooner you know that the news is potentially bad, the sooner you can do something about it.

Pete Newsome 14:26
And in this case, you could potentially turn out around the scenario let me what if right, there was something that when people interview at times, they’re in this is just natural right there, they get nervous, and they may forget something obvious. I mean, I’ve seen people practically forget their names in an interview.

Pete Newsome 14:50
And that’s, that’s common. And so if we see things missed that are obvious and that people really know well, just because at the moment that you have something in mind, that may be an opportunity to correct it.

Pete Newsome 15:04
You know, in, let’s say, you asked me that question if I’m interviewing you, and they say, well, Ricky, yeah, I mean, if I’m being honest, you didn’t display, you know, XYZ that we think is very important for the role.

Pete Newsome 15:16
Now, it’s going to put the interviewer on the spot, and a lot of people aren’t gonna know what to say. But so be it. I mean, get your take your shot, right, while you can.

Pete Newsome 15:26
But in that scenario, if I say, here’s why, and you and you go, Oh, man, shame on me for not telling you this, I have lots of experience doing XYZ, here’s my, here’s when I’ve done it successfully, whatever that situation is, or, yeah, you’re right.

Pete Newsome 15:44
And if you’re not going to get the job, if you’re the candidate, when you Brother, no sooner than later, when you rather know then and say, yep, I get it, you know that you’re right.

Pete Newsome 15:53
And I, because if it’s after the fact, it’s too late, hey, we’ve already hired someone else. If you say, oh, man, the feedback was that they said I didn’t know XYZ, but I do.

Pete Newsome 16:05
And just It slipped my mind at the time or the question wasn’t presented in a way I knew what they were asking. But if you can correct it in the interview scenario, you may end up on the right side of the equation. Yeah,

Ricky Baez 16:17
I’m changing my tune on that. So okay, so now I know. Awesome. So I don’t know, either. I did well, or I’m going to Applebee’s for the two-for-one. So I could cry my sorrows away afterward. So we’ll see.

Pete Newsome 16:29
Yes, yeah. I mean, it’s you.

Pete Newsome 16:34
I believe strongly in open communication
and in an interview process on both sides, because it’s not, it should never just be about the employer deciding whether the kids could fit the candidate is also assessing the employer and the situation, deciding if it’s a good fit on the other side. So yeah, it’s natural. That candidate should ask questions.

Pete Newsome 16:57
And we highly encourage any candidate that we work with for corner resources or staffing company to go in prepared to ask questions.

Pete Newsome 17:06
And then also take notes during the interview that have questions that you want to ask that, you know, maybe things that you heard that you weren’t expecting, or you’re surprised that comes up along the way. Awesome.

Pete Newsome 17:19
So a bit off-topic, but it’s the week it’s all part of the same, the same thing, which is the more feedback you get, the better, and the sooner you get at the better that’s a part that I wanted, to impart.

Ricky Baez 17:32
So we thank them for the opportunity, and we ask for feedback. Now, normally, this is where it ends, right? So this is where I tell people to go above and beyond, just because you no longer need to communicate with this recruiter, it doesn’t necessarily mean that communication needs to stop, you have an amazing, valuable tangible asset.

Ricky Baez 17:53
And that’s called the recruiter’s email address.

Ricky Baez 17:56
You no longer have to guess on LinkedIn, who is recruited for what and who’s working on getting word region, you continue that relationship with that recruiter if you build a relationship with that recruiter, like, for example, what are their favorite books, because you’re gonna sense that you chitchat, and you get to know them as a person.

Ricky Baez 18:12
And if you find an article that you think would resonate with that recruiter, you have to have talked about it before, sent it to that person asked him to go to a coffee network.

Ricky Baez 18:23
This is the part where you build that relationship when you don’t have to build that relationship according to everybody else.

Ricky Baez 18:30
Then two, or three months down the road, have another similar position comes up or another position comes up, that shares your skill set because you’re going to be at the top of the recruiter’s mind.

Ricky Baez 18:39
Because you’re in their inbox, you build the relationship, you just went to Applebee’s, a crab deposition you did and a half, right? So you build that relationship with them.

Ricky Baez 18:47
So you continue to build it going forward, and then they’re going to be tapping you on the shoulder when a position comes up. Trust me it works.

Pete Newsome 18:56
The one thing I would want to interject there because we see this mistake made is don’t be overly persistent in staying in touch with someone let some time and I would even say that, yeah, let some time pass a minimum of a month, maybe more, probably more.

Pete Newsome 19:19
But I would recommend if you’re going to stay in touch with the recruiter put that out there upfront Hey, can I reach out to you every few months in case something changes? And at least 30 days pass that’s a good point.

Ricky Baez 19:35
Don’t come you know don’t stalk and don’t show up at their house at midnight in the bushes. That’s not going to be good. I mean, you’re gonna get an interview but it’s not going to be with the organization that is good with the local police department.

Pete Newsome 19:46
Just know that nearly everyone who is unless they’ve just been extremely lucky is unique in their skill set or who they are as a candidate or having interviewed very much.

Pete Newsome 20:00
Almost everyone experiences that at some point. You know, I had, I had a two-minute interview once that the person asked me about my experience in something I had no experience with. And as soon as a question was asked that I thought, did you not look at my resume?

Pete Newsome 20:17
A long time ago, did you not look at my resume? And the person hadn’t clearly looked at my resume. And, it was, it was just a very brief interview.

Pete Newsome 20:27
And I was disappointed because it was a, it would have been it, it was a big improvement of the situation that I was in at the time. And I was looking forward to it.

Pete Newsome 20:41
As I told my wife about like, this is two minutes, I was looking forward to it for days, in fact, and then the bubble burst immediately. And in the thought of doubling my income, which I was already spending the money in my head disappeared. It was awful.

Pete Newsome 21:00
And if, you know, those kinds of bad experiences have helped guide me and how we treat candidates because and it’s also easily avoidable, but just know that, you know, those situations are common. The disappointment, as you said, is real, and we’re not here to suggest otherwise.

Pete Newsome 21:23
But we are here to say that you want to live to fight another day. That’s right. And know that that, you know, if it wasn’t a good fit, it’s probably for a better reason better to when I say bad news early is good news.

Pete Newsome 21:36
That’s also an interview process. Or the weather, if the organization has decided it’s not a good fit, believe them.

Ricky Baez 21:46
That’s right, you know.

Pete Newsome 21:47
You don’t wanna you don’t want to go into a bad scenario. So great advice across the board, Ricky and I agree with that.

Pete Newsome 21:55
And from your perspective as HR, my perspective and as is being the middleman so to speak as a professional recruiting firm, we could tell you that how you handle that scenario will often dictate what comes next and maintain those relationships.

Pete Newsome 22:13
Don’t burn them down just because you’re unhappy at the moment.

Ricky Baez 22:17
So many people are doing that these days, and they’re videotaping them on Tik Tok and everything. So you’re 100%, right? Don’t burn relationships, don’t burn bridges.

Ricky Baez 22:25
Take every failure as an opportunity to learn and just make sure you got the nicely paved road going forward. Trust me, it’s going to pay dividends, folks,

Pete Newsome 22:36
even though you disputed that it’s around the world and you suggested it flat.

Ricky Baez 22:43
I’m open to evidence. I’m open to evidence.

Pete Newsome 22:48
Well, what comes around goes how’s that? Or I think some people so so good. Well, look, this is it’s not a fun subject, but it’s an important and necessary subject.

Pete Newsome 23:00
So thank you for listening today. This is a short episode because this is a let’s hope this happens not often to anyone who’s listening but just knows that it’s common and you’re not alone. And if you have any further questions about it, please reach out to us.

Pete Newsome 23:19
We would love to hear from you. And so thank you for listening. That’s as much as I have today.

Ricky Baez 23:27
That’s right folks, thank you very much drive safe and remember please like us, share us look us up on your favorite podcast platform. Give us a like give us a share and let us know what you want to hear coming up. We were rocking shooting it.

Pete Newsome 23:39
Awesome. Ricky thank you so much and deserve and drive safe and have a great rest of your day. Have a good one. Bye!