Every now and then recruiters have to deliver the news no one wants to hear and break hearts.
Sometimes we’ll find a job which fits a candidate like a glove, then wham- you receive the disappointing phone call that no one wants to receive that they haven’t made the cut.
Pre-interview nerves can be one culprit, the enigmatic reason of ‘chemistry’ or fitting in with the company’s ‘values’ or ‘vision’ another. As recruiters, we do all we can to avoid this. We get to know our candidates and have known the clients we recruit for, for years. A typical candidate applying for a role through us will be pre-vetted for skills ( a simple scan of your CV), spoken to on the phone by a consultant, then given an online test and a phone interview with the client before going to a face-to-face interview. However, all the preamble does not guarantee success. The truth is that sometimes it goes wrong at the last hurdle and it’s no one’s fault.
So, you didn’t get the role. Don’t let a bad interview dampen your spirits or deaden your energy. Read our best advice for getting over an interview setback, remember why you want to leave the role you are currently in and take on the recruitment process like a pro. There are plenty more opportunities out there, believe us we’re recruiters!
Get the necessities out the way and break the news to your: other half/mum/friend/sibling. The sooner you do this, the sooner you can focus on moving on. It’s tempting here to believe that ‘forgetting about it’ is the best line of action, but if there is a lesson to be learnt it’s best to take the opportunity to face it head on. This is where ‘counterfactual thinking’ comes in, an analytical thought practice recently championed in the Harvard Business Review.
1. Think of something you could have done or said which may have led to a better outcome.
Challenge yourself to conceive of an upward counterfactual, a path that might have led to a better outcome, such as a second interview.
2. Think of an alternative to the first step which may have also led to a better outcome.
Don’t get fixated on ‘one thing’ you could have done, or a ‘quick fix’ mentality. In reality, there are a million different factors affecting a situation. Thinking of a second reason can help you stay grounded and challenge yourself more holistically and honestly.
3. Picture the same path leading to a different outcome.
This may sound clichéd, but sometimes it’s not you, it’s them. Maintain a healthy respect for outside forces which are out of your hands. Be honest with yourself, and put yourself in their shoes. Could they have been swayed to accept you?
4. Imagine a worse outcome.
This ‘downward counterfactual’ helps to look on the bright side of life. Not getting the role may feel like the worst case scenario, but did you leave things in a good place? Would they consider you for an alternative role in the future? Have you learnt anything which you can take with you for future interviews?
Practising these thought experiments can help to stretch your mind to incorporate new possible tactics for the future. The Harvard Business Review further backs this up through Neuroimaging research which suggests that since “counterfactual thinking happens in the same part of the brain as planning, it might serve as a sort of interface between emotional thinking and goal setting”.
Challenging yourself to use counterfactual thinking and formulate detailed alternative scenarios is one way to bridge that gap and ensure you do better the next time around.