Properly Deal with Interview Rejection – When 2nd Place can Become the Winner

Jason E. Connors


Living on the front lines of the recruiting and interview process often allows us a more complete view and insight into all that goes on throughout the entire life-cycle of applying for a job to getting the offer.  Something to consider, as you are dealing with the often-frustrating process of searching for a new job in today’s job market.  Many times, the #2 contender for a job becomes the #1 candidate.  But only if you handle yourself, and the interview rejection, the right way throughout the process…even after the process has seemingly ended.


5 things to consider throughout the Interview Process


  1. Feedback Always Comes Slower than Expected, Be Patient: Badgering the hiring manager because you haven’t heard a yes or a no is not a good strategy.  They don’t “owe” you anything.  Just as you are taking the time to meet with them and interview for the position, they are taking their time to meet with you.  You should certainly follow up throughout the process, but in a polite and positive way.  Not in a way that is demanding or offensive in any way.
  2. Delays Happen in The Process, Don’t Take This Personally: It is not strange at all for deadlines to be missed in the interview process.  In fact, it is almost the norm.  If a hiring manager says that they will have times and dates on the next step by Wednesday, count on that happening on Friday.  And often, the delay has absolutely nothing to do with the employer’s lack of interest in you.  And it is not “disrespectful” to you, and it is not because they don’t care about your time.  Most of the time, these delays happen because the company is very busy with day to day issues that they are dealing with internally that have nothing to do with the interview process.  So many times, we hear candidates getting “offended” by these delays, and taking themselves out of the running because they were not “respected”.  STOP DOING THIS.  Relax, and let the process play out.
  3. Your Ended as the #2 Candidate, Do Not Give Up: This is a very typical scenario that we see here at AllSearch.  Two candidates are finalists for a position.  There is a delay, and then finally an offer.  The second-place candidate is annoyed.  They storm off angrily, don’t thank anyone, and they disappear.  Or worse, they make an offensive or short reply when they find out they were second place, and burn a bridge.  Then, they find out that two weeks later, the first-place candidate turned down the offer and the position is wide open again.  The hiring manager or recruiter would have reached back out to the second place candidate with an offer, but because the second-place candidate was rude and offensive when they were not the first pick, the search will start over.
  4. Be Patient, Thank Everyone: For the reason above, you don’t want to burn a bridge if you come in second place in the interview process.  If this was a job you really wanted, and a company you really wanted to work for, be a professional.  Thank everyone you met for the opportunity.  Thank the recruiter for setting you up with the interview.  Reiterate to all parties that you wish them success with the new hire, but that you remain extremely interested in this role, and working for the company.  If anything changes, or if you can provide any other information that would be helpful to them, please let you know.
  5. Your Recruiter is Your Ally, Not Your Enemy: The Recruiter that introduced you to the employer that you are interviewing with wants you to get the job.  They would not have sent your resume to the company if they didn’t.  A skilled professional recruiter will guide you in the process, get you information, and do everything they can to prepare you for success.  The one area that is often outside of their control is getting timely feedback for you.  As a third party to the interview process, the recruiter is typically the very last person that receives feedback.  When the recruiter doesn’t have the information you need, it is not for a lack of effort.  Again, they want you to get that position.  Absolutely follow up with the recruiter, but be patient and professional with them.  You most certainly don’t want to burn any bridges in the process.  You want to stay professional and friendly with the recruiter, as they can continue to be an asset to you on future openings that they represent as well.


Don’t be a cautionary tale here.  If you love the company and position that you are interviewing for, trust the process.  Don’t give up and disappear because you might not have been the first choice.  And never burn any bridges in the process.  Burned bridges have ZERO ability to help you advance in your career.  Trust the process, understand the frustrations, don’t get personally offended by the delays, and thank everyone even when things don’t go your way.  Be the consummate professional…and be the ultimate winner.


Jason Connors, CEO, AllSearch Staffing Group