We have watched thousands of candidates go through the interview process and sometimes, after many rounds of interviews, we hear, “We are going to pass on Sue or John.” As hard as it is to share this outcome with candidates, we know it is even harder for them to hear – especially if things had been going well at each round of interviews and they were very invested.
Unfortunately, I think most of us, at one time or another, have had the experience of being rejected by a place we thought was right for us. I know this is a painful experience and we are filled with disappointment. Having watched this process up close for 20 years, here is what I advise: Do not to take it personally! I know it feels VERY personal: a bunch of people who met you said, “NO, you are not right.” But honestly, these decisions often come down to some random factors that you had little to no control over. Maybe someone didn’t like your green tie or the fact that you went to a rival school – or maybe the Hiring Partner had their own referred candidate. In most cases, the decision is very well thought out, but sometime it’s just not.
Do you remember when you were applying to college and you, or some of your friends, got into a great school, but were rejected or wait-listed by a lower ranked school? I was visiting colleges with my 16 year old daughter last week and am encouraging her to consider a wide range of colleges – because I remember being rejected by Brandeis, but accepted by Barnard(?!?!)
Although it is difficult when we are rejected, I would encourage you to be the professional you are: send thank you notes to people you met during the interview process with whom you really connected. They were probably your champions in the course of the decision-making process and there is a high likelihood that you will run in to them again at an LMA meeting, NALP conference or on a future interview at another firm. Do your best to shake it off and not carry the disappoint with you into your future interviews – interviewers can always sense if you are upset or feeling negative about past experiences. If you need to, write it out in a letter that you’ll NEVER send, to help “re-set” yourself.
I know this is all common sense, but doing the right thing and behaving in a way you feel good about (even when you feel like hiding from anyone who might have been responsible for that “NO”), is going to payoff in the long run.