There’s a big difference between a single, quick interview and a long, intensive interview process. At the end of the long process, you may have met with several managers. You have information about the company from the interview team, and you may even have an idea about how many people you’re competing with and their backgrounds. You’ve invested a lot after several interviews: time, energy and perhaps even a sample of your work or a plan for what your first sixty days will look like. If you don’t get selected, it’s bound to be a letdown. It’s easy to start second guessing yourself.
You have my permission to stop beating yourself up. There are many reasons you might not get the offer: an internal candidate may have the inside track, or the job may have been redefined in some way during the process that made you a weaker match. Or, you were a great match, but someone else was even greater. Or, when you discussed salary, they decided they couldn’t afford you. If you got a callback, you were a strong candidate; the rest was probably out of your control.
Rather than spend time on that, here’s an action plan that may help you get your next job.
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Take time to warmly thank the interviewing team for their time and for giving you an opportunity. Swallow your disappointment and tell the interviewer how much you enjoyed learning about the company and how you hope that if a future position comes up, you might be considered. Ask if you can stay in touch; send an invitation to connect on LinkedIn.
Here’s why: recent studies show that 46 percent of new hires fail within the first 18 months. Most of those (40 percent) will leave voluntarily within the first six months. Some candidates have been known to accept and offer and then get the offer for their real dream job, quitting before they start. If you were a strong second choice, you may have another shot at the job if you stay open and stay in touch.
If you’re using LinkedIn to its full potential, you’ve been following the company. That means that you’ll be able to see who got the job as soon as he or she updates the employment information on his or her profile. You have a couple of opportunities here. You can take a look at the final selected candidate’s profile and look at her previous job. You may find clues to why she was a stronger choice: years of experience, or education or a credential you don’t have (yet – that’s a hint.) Don’t forget – there may be an opening at her previous company. It’s worth some research time.
Marc Miller, author of Repurpose Your Career: A Practical Guide for Baby Boomers, even suggests that you reach out to the candidate who was hired. You may add a new and valuable asset to your network, and he may be willing to refer you to other opportunities once he gets to know you.
It is possible to move forward in your career plan by looking in the rear view mirror, as long as you work on other strategies as well.