Don’t Overlearn The Lesson From A Failed Interview


One common mistake job seekers make is trying to learn too much from too little information.  For example, if you apply for one job and are not selected for an interview, you think maybe your resume needs work.  If you take one interview and do not get selected, you think you need to change your interview approach.  Big mistake.

Because most job seekers have so few interview experiences, they try to treat each one like an important experiment.  It feels personal (to you) so naturally you want lots of feedback from the situation.  You ask the hiring manager, or HR, or the search firm what you should do differently next time.  It seems like a fair request after all the time and energy you invested, right?

Except there is often strikingly little to learn from a failed interview.

When you have 10 failed interviews, hey, then maybe you have some data to learn from … except most interviewers (and many search firms) will not really give you candid feedback.  So why can’t you get honest feedback?  Because most candidates do not take it very well.  Some kind hearted interviewers will try to offer it (early in their career), but often they will just give up.  I did.  I thought I was going above and beyond –  giving great service to the candidate.  But finally I realized that giving candid feedback – at the moment of rejecting someone –  was just pouring salt in the wound.   (“You didn’t get your dream job, and it’s because you talk too much.”)  So ummm, yeah, don’t expect too many people to give you honest feedback.

But on the rare occasions when you get “honest feedback”  you need to be careful not to overlearn from it.  When you don’t get a job, it’s rarely because of your interview technique.  Most often it is just an employer saying “you just don’t fit our mental picture of who we want in the job” and despite your perfect interview technique, there is not a thing you can do about that.

So don’t overlearn from interview rejection, just move on.    Trust me on this point, being in action moving toward the next opportunity will do you far more good than ruminating on the last one.