Consult Recruitment NZ > Career  > How to Handle (Job) Rejection Like a Legend

How to Handle (Job) Rejection Like a Legend

It is a fact of life.  Not everyone will want to hire you.  There will be someone more experienced, more qualified, more shiny or more of a ‘fit’ than you.  It’s also a fact of life that some people handle rejection better than others (in fact, recruiters, especially when they are starting out have more than their fair share of rejection, so we’ve got a bit of experience here!).

So, based on my recruitment experience and observing how excellent and struggling consultants, plus loads of candidates manage rejection, here are my 5 top tips to help you move forward:


When you get the call that the company has gone with another person, it is easy to want to fight their decision.  After all, you know just how awesome, motivated and perfect you are for the role – obviously the company has got it wrong!  Too often, we react to the negative news instead of remaining cool and collected. Unfortunately, when this happens – we leave people with the wrong impression.  When the news is not great – give yourself some breathing space. It’s okay to be disappointed, and it is totally fine to verbalise that, but just don’t take the extra step of arguing the decision – you’ll get nowhere.


There has obviously been a reason for the company going with someone else.  Once you’ve cooled off from point one above (have another phone call the next day if that helps) – gaining the knowledge as to the reasons why they went with someone else will be hugely beneficial to you.  

It could be they went with an internal candidate, it could be that your testing wasn’t great, it could be there are changes in the organisation which has slightly changed the role, it could be that you just plain missed out to a better qualified candidate – whatever it is – you need to know.

It could also be that you answered some questions poorly or didn’t come across in the best light – so make sure you have that conversation with your recruiter, so you can get better for next time. A good recruiter should work hard with the employer to give you some honest but constructive feedback, make sure you ask for it.

Understanding the reason for you not getting the role helps you to not only process the fact, but to get better in the future.


Just because they have offered the role to another candidate – it doesn’t mean that it ends there.  Make sure you reiterate to the recruiter – that if anything changes that you would love a call to reignite the process.  

Also, not everyone can smash every interview process 100% of the time. A good recruiter will still want to keep in touch with you for other roles they may get, especially if you can be objective and demonstrate you have taken feedback onboard.


Failing in an interview process, may feel like you have wasted your time, but you haven’t. You might have gained some good intel on why you didn’t get the role.  This is great insight for how you can get better – so formulate a plan around this. We still often see people miss out on roles because they haven’t performed well in the interview, or they haven’t researched who they are going to meet, or don’t have good examples to bring up.  Make sure that if you miss out today – you learn from it so that you are better tomorrow.


More often than not – missing out on a role is not about you.  It is just that the organisation has moved in a direction that they think is more suited to them.  It doesn’t mean you are a bad person, bad at your job or that you aren’t awesome – it just means that it wasn’t your time.  Us oldies in recruitment often talk about this – we’ve seen so many weird situations happen and it always works out okay in the end.

After all, when you’re in your rocking chair when you are 90 reflecting back on your life – it is pretty unlikely that you will still be annoyed at missing out on ‘that’ role!

About the author

Angela Cameron - CA, CPA

Executive Director

A chartered accountant by qualification, she is a recruitment leader by nature.

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