Man in despair
Man in despair

Being told that you have not been successful for an interview can be very disappointing; even if you didn't really want the position it can still be upsetting to know that you were not chosen. There are times when you may have felt that the job had your name on it, you studied hard in preparation for the interview, you built a wonderful bond with your employers and your answers could not have been better only to find out that someone else will be starting in the role.

On hearing the unfortunate news there are two things you need to do (1) ensure you remain professional when speaking to the employer (2) regain the confidence to carry on. 

Remaining professional

On finding out that you did not get the job thank the interviewer for their time and let them know that should any suitable positions come up for you in the future that you would very much like to hear from them. As a result of this positive approach you may be offered a position in future.

Asking for feedback

If the interviewer phoned to tell you the results of the interview it is acceptable to ask for immediate feedback.  Here are some ways to phrase the question:

o    “Can you please provide me with some quick feedback”

o     “Is there anything I could do better at interview next time?”
If you have received a letter or email advising you that you have been unsuccessful you might consider calling your interviewer or sending an email asking for some feedback.

Whether asking for feedback over the phone or in writing you need to be mindful that the employer may either be too busy or reluctant to provide constructive criticism. It is best not to send more than one email asking for feedback or to ask more than two questions on the phone unless the employer seems very keen to talk.

Accepting feedback

At the time the employer contacts you to explain that you were unsuccessful they have made an absolute decision. This means that you will not be able to change the decision. It is therefore unwise to tell the employer that they may have made the wrong decision or to continue to talk about your strengths.

Listen to each piece of information that the employer has told you and consider whether you will make any changes to your skill set or interview approach before applying for further positions.

Regaining confidence

Everyone can feel disheartened by the interview process whether they are new to the world of work or experienced. It is beneficial to realise how you are feeling and accept the feeling as being normal, then use the feeling to boost your future.

1.Avoid comparing yourself to others; remind yourself of your strengths.

2. Re-evaluate your interview approach

3. Re-evaluate whether you are applying for the correct positions

4. Do something that makes you feel happy - this could be something active, having a coffee with a friend, reading a book or watching a film for escapism.

5. Picture yourself in your new position as a successful professional

6. Apply for more positions. Ideally you need to have several applications on the go so that you can always be optimistic about more possible futures. Set yourself goals for writing applications, networking and following up previous applications.


If you need help with any of this I can suggest .... Coaching

Man raising glasses

Here are 5 questions you should never ask the interviewer...

    What do you hate about your job?

Yowl! This question could make the interviewer feel very uncomfortable in front of their colleagues. He/she may also feel that the interview is not the best time to criticise the company or their position.

    Can I have your [the managers'] job?

This is a high risk question as interviewers will react to it in different ways, some people may like to see ambition while others would feel the question is inappropriate.

Once you are in the company you can discuss your professional development with your manager. At this point you can start developing the skills to take on a (higher) managerial position.

If you want to find out about progression within the company you can ask questions about the professional development policy indicate that you are keen to progress within the company.

    How much holiday will I have?

This question makes it clear that you are more interested in your time away from the job than in the job itself.

Once you have been offered the position you can discuss hours of work. You can negotiate to take some time off if you already have a holiday booked.

    How much will you pay me?

It is safer to discuss the conditions of the role after you have been offered the position. The questions you ask the employer need to demonstrate your interest in the position rather than the remuneration.

    Do you have a family?

An interviewer should not be asking you personal questions and nor should you be asking. Keeping all your questions professional is a better strategy.

    What does your company do?

At an interview you will be expected to have researched the company, role, competitors, current affairs etc. Asking something this basic will ensure you are rejected.

So what can I ask at the end of the interview?

When the employer asks of you have any questions it's your chance to clarify anything that is still unclear or ask further questions about something that hasn’t been fully explained.

Always make use of this opportunity to ask questions, it shows that you are interested in the company and in the role, asking 1-3 questions is sufficient - don’t bombard them with questions at the first interview stage.

Here are some safe topics that you can ask about:

  • Professional development
  • Career progression
  • Key Performance Indicators for the job
  • The culture or management style of the company
  • How the company differs from competitors 
  • The reason the position is vacant
  • Clients
  • Company growth, mergers, acquisitions etc

Here are some good questions to ask (only ask these questions if you haven't already already been provided with the answers in the job description or interview discussion) :

•    What are the main responsibilities of the role?
•    Can you describe a typical day for me?
•    What size team would I be joining?
•    What sort of computer systems/software would I be using?
•    Are there any special projects planned for the future that you can tell me about?
•    Are there any policies or procedures I need to be aware of?
•    How will you measure my performance?

A good question at the end of the interview can leave the employer with a good feeling about you.

Confident woman at interview

Everyone gets nervous before an interview. Nerves can be an advantage as the adrenaline you feel can help you to perform better, however you don't want to be so nervous that you can't answer the questions, or become so self conscious that you prevent your own success. With a bit of practice and some useful techniques you can overcome nerves and start demonstrating confidence.  

Employers are attracted to people who are confident and understand their strengths and ability. Let’s start by exploring how the words you use in the interview demonstrate confidence.

Step 1: Using the right words

It is important to appear confident in an interview without seeming too modest or too arrogant. This can be a difficult balance.
You are being too modest if you are:

•         Not talking about your strengths.
•         Denying your strengths ‘oh, it was nothing’

e.g. “Oh, it was nothing. All the students thought it was easy. The others students completed their projects too.”
You would be considered arrogant if you,

•         imply that you are the only one with these skills
•         say that you are the best
•         don’t give credit for other people’s input
•         consider yourself perfect
•         think you have nothing to learn

e.g. "The only reason the team succeeded was because of my input. My interpersonal skills and organisational ability changed this from being a disaster into a success."

 To show an appropriate level of confidence,

•         acknowledge your strengths using the correct language.
•         acknowledge other’s input into your projects.
•         explain what you still need to learn.

“I thoroughly enjoyed the Project Management Course. It gave me the opportunity to put my learning into practice. I designed a knowledge-based system for a book store. I was pleased to receive a high distinction for the project. My tutor’s business knowledge had inspired me and I enjoyed working on a ‘real’ problem.”

Step 2: Displaying the right body language

A confident interviewee will provide a firm handshake, smile and have the confidence to have eye contact for most of the interview.
If you haven’t had much experience in the world of work it is good to practise your introduction so that you feel confident on the day.

When you are in the interview room you need to ensure that you don’t have any repetitive movements that may distract the interviewer and indicate that you are nervous. After eliminating nervous behaviours change your concentration from your own body to the people interviewing your; listening carefully to the questions they ask and watch their body language. You may be able to tell from their glances and body language whether they need more or less information in your answer, or whether you need to show more enthusiasm.  

Step 3: Calming your body and mind

To excel at interview you need to ensure you are at your physical and mental best. 

Meditation is beneficial even if you only do a few minutes per day in the days/weeks leading up to the interview. The benefit comes from the calming effect and the increased clarify of thought. You should notice the positive effect whilst you are meditating and when you have practiced for a while you will notice it improving your quality of mind in every aspect of your day – including at interview. If you are unfamiliar with meditation you can still use this technique; ensure there are no interruptions and become aware of your breath – be aware of the movement of your chest and stomach as you breathe, feel the sensation of air entering and leaving your nose.You will do much better at interview if your body is given the chance to perform by being healthy and refreshed. To achieve this you will have to concentrate on eating healthy food and getting exercise in the run up to the interview. If you can’t avoid comfort eating then ensure the snacks you choose will boost your energy rather than consuming high sugar foods that are counter-productive.

Doing something relaxing the day/evening before can take your mind off the interview and ensure you feel refreshed; this could be reading, having a bath, playing with your family, going for a walk on the beach or a stroll in a National Park.

The night before the interview it is best to go to bed early. It is possible to perform well in an interview if you haven’t slept at all, however most people have improved thought processes if they have had a good night sleep.

Immediately before the interview you can become calmer by concentrating on your breathing. Be aware whether you are breathing fast or slow, deep or shallow. To control your breathing (which will decrease your anxiety) breathe out slowly. Then take a slow breath in and become aware of your lungs expanding. Each time you breathe out let your shoulders sink down.   

Step 4: Ensuring you are fully prepared

Make sure that you have prepared so much that you know there is nothing else you can do to improve your chances of success. Living Career provides booklets with exercises you can do to predict interview questions, prepare answers, understand your interviewers and feel ready.

Ensure you know the route you will take to the interview, where to park and how to enter the building. If you have time you may wish to travel there in advance. Alternatively you can research the directions online.  

You may feel more confident when you have several applications in the pipeline; you can relax a bit when you know that more opportunities for job offers are possible.

Step 5: Boosting your chances through your imagination

Use the creative power of imagination to improve your chances of success. The power of the imagination has been proven to have an impact on actual performance and this is why it's so important to picture your success.

Imagine your perfect interview. It's a perfect performance. You look great. You are full of energy and confidence. The answers flow naturally. The interviewers' expressions clearly demonstrate that they are impressed with you.Take this one step further - write down the most likely interview questions and practice answering these whilst you are imagining your ideal interview.

Once you can really imagine oozing confidence at interview you are in a position to recreate this success at the actual interview.

I hope this has provided some practical techniques to improve your interview performance. Do contact me if you would like to practise real interview questions with me. I can provide you with detailed feedback on the confidence shown through your body language and answers to questions.