A few years ago, I applied for a job and got rejected. I felt ashamed, and I didn’t know what to do. In my experience back then, I ran out of options, emotionally and financially.

The first major failure in my life was incredibly painful, and to be honest, I wasn’t prepared for it. I knew it would be hard, but somehow, I always believed that I would manage. “As long as I work hard and do my best, I will eventually get there.” Despite the hard work, I noticed that it wasn’t enough and that made failure discouraging. After some reflection, it started to feel like a wake-up call to experience a tough reality.

Over the years, I learned that I encounter failures all over. Many of the plans did not work out as expected, which made me realize that failure is quite common (although it doesn’t feel like it;). One thing I tried to avoid was to blame myself for everything going wrong. Instead, I accepted it, and I investigated where it had gone wrong. Once I learned where it had gone wrong, it would prevent me from making the same mistakes again and continuing with my life. If I do not learn, I will likely make the same mistake again.

It may sound strange that back then, I struggled to find a job. I got some nice degrees, the economy was doing well, and there seemed to be plenty of opportunities. Luckily, multiple organizations invited me for the first round of interviews, and at what seemed my dream job, I made it to the last round! Unfortunately, I got rejected! It hurt, and I got frustrated. Although I had another last round interview scheduled elsewhere, I doubted myself and even considered putting the whole job search on hold.

After a few days, something happened within me, and it made me reflect on why I didn’t get the job. Before the interviews, I was convinced that I had to do my best, be sincere, and show that I had taken the extra mile to drive the organization’s success. I was convinced that this attitude would get me hired. I was wrong! The company was not interested in the sincere candidate with the drive to do his best. Instead, they wanted the candidate who possessed the necessary years of experience (note: in a similar role). In other words: I was naïve and even a bit arrogant, assuming that I exactly represented what the company was looking for. It should not have been about me needing the job but about the needs of the organization!

From that time on, I thoroughly prepared my interviews and meetings by researching what companies were exactly looking for. This got rewarded by a generous offer at a great company. And even back then, there was one interview with two members of the board that may have benefitted from better preparation. The previous ones went so well that I made a mistake thinking I was already accepted; thus, the interview with the board of directors was a formality. Luckily, the directors showed sufficient professionalism and trust that I was offered the job in the end! I am still grateful for the opportunity that boosted my career.

Did you do badly in a job interview? Find out exactly what had gone wrong instead of accepting that it will all turn out well in the end and do not make the same mistake again. Are you upset because you didn’t get the job? Evaluate your habits. Have you done sufficient research? Have you reached out to contacts who work in the company and have asked for advice?

Take responsibility and look after what has gone wrong. Failure happens to all of us, and every time we make a mistake, we can learn from it. I wish you much success in your next attempt.

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