Getting rejected sucks, but it's worse when they can't tell you why
Job rejections are a daily part of job hunting and it sucks. What's worse is not finding out why you're being rejected. The fine margins for rejection are the reasons that hurt the most, but the generic line is the real kicker. Knowing you've more than fulfilled the requirements and the interview went well but still getting a "no thanks".
Many companies do take time to get back to you, but others seem to have a rolodex of random reasons for saying no. Not enough experience, going with an alternative candidate or the evergreen did not fulfil all the requirements. Some of these can be valid reasons, and you need to be reasonably self-critical, but there are definitely reasons you can get rejected that they just won't tell you.
This can be because of embarrassment on their part or because it is something you are unable to change. But more often than not, employers take the easy route and shield away from you why you've not been successful. It should be noted here that, more often than not employers are telling the truth, as is the level of competition, but sometimes they might be just too squirmish to say.
When looking to employ a new member of staff, employers are not just looking for someone that is able to do the job. They are looking for someone they are going to have to spend more time with than their loved ones. The successful applicant will be spending 40 hours plus with this person, so if they for whatever reason they take a dislike to you instantly, your odds are plummeting. This can be a very real, if not slightly rare, occurrence. We've all done it, when someone's mannerisms or demeanour have just rubbed us up the wrong way.
On the other hand, being over friendly, false or sycophantic in interviews is not going to help either. You will be spending as much time with your work colleagues as you will with your nearest and dearest, employers understand this, and they certainly don't want to have to put up with anyone for the majority of the working week. This is even more imperative in smaller companies because of proximity, but don't think because you're joining an international corporation you can just approach it like a turn up, log in and shoot off at 6pm.
And if this the reason you've been rejected, you are not going to hear about it. Telling you that you haven't got the job because they didn't think they'd get on with you is just simply not going to happen. What can you do? Well nothing. Well, nearly nothing - creating a good and moderate impression is not particularly difficult.
It could be very easy to get hung up on this fact and be left thinking "What's wrong with me?", but graduates shouldn't worry too much - it wasn't meant to be. Just learn for next time.
Attitude, what attitude?
Attitude and approach to interviews and jobs is vitally important. It is very easy for employers to cite alternative reasons to say no, such as experience or a better candidate, but if you're attitude stinks you've got no chance.
Once again it is scarcely highlighted as the reason they said no and nor is it easy to measure or spot, at least on your part. But for employers, if you enter the interview room with a sense of swagger and entitlement they will bin your application quicker than you can say milk no sugar. You're not too good for this job, nor any job. However, as much as they might try and hide disdain for your cocksure approach, it is unlikely they'll highlight it as your continued search for employment.
In interviews, graduates should aim to be open, honest and friendly, with an added edge of humility. Each of us is different and some of us thrive on the pressure of interviews, but at least keep it in check. There is a line to toe with this, but it's pretty broad and employers will give you leeway either way for nerves and apprehension. Approaching interviews and applications with confidence in your potential, but also a quiet reserve about your ability is the way to proceed.
This is another area where the water gets very murky, very quickly. Certainly, this is not expressly used as a way to reject candidates, but does happen. Similarly to a clash of personalities, some organisations are set in their ways. At moderately sized businesses, those of around 50 to a couple of hundred employees, it is easy to get set in a way and set in a particular "culture".
What I mean by this is the long standing employees set the tone of a particular department and if the prospective candidate might upset the apple cart it is likely they'll be avoided. Usually this is done subconsciously and they won't be able to see "you in the role" and this might not be totally apparent to them. Which as far as your rejection goes, only makes it worse. What can you do about this?
Sod all really. Employers hold all the cards in this situation. Unless there is any way you can prove a legal grievance on the basis of race, gender, religion, disability, age or other discrimination claims, there is little you as a graduate can do. And this is a road I am not qualified, and so will not, pursue.
Employers really are able to cherry pick the best graduates available. While it is simply not enough to have the required experience and necessary skills, it is also vitally important that graduates appear as likeable people, people that the employer will be prepared to spend 40 hours plus with, week in and week out.
So when you have been rejected by one of the tombola of terms to reject candidates it is always worth thinking was it really the reason they gave or was it in fact my conduct or approach. Any rejection should be analysed for improvement next time. Rejections do suck but there's nothing you can do but improve for next time.
By James Howell