Dream Job Blog

You didn’t get the offer, now what?

A pensive woman in an office, reflecting on career advice

It’s a horrible feeling when you find out you didn’t get the offer. It just plain sucks. You put in all this hard work, got excited and believed it was the perfect job for you. You may have even walked away from the interview feeling confident that the offer was at hand.

And then you received the call or email letting you know they decided to go with someone else. At that moment, it was beyond disappointing. It’s physically, mentally and emotionally overwhelming. 

This is all perfectly normal. It’s understandable if your initial reaction is to give up and convince yourself you’re fine where you’re at or go into a spiral of negative thoughts. I get it — been there, more than once. 

Have you heard of loss aversion? It’s based on cognitive psychology and decision theory. It refers to people’s preference to avoid losses over acquiring the equivalent gains. Meaning if you lose $100 it’ll feel way worse than if you win $100. 

So a loss no matter what it is, feels crappy. And the bigger the loss, the harder it is to overcome.

Rather than wallow in our misery, there are healthier ways to deal with the rejection and missed opportunity. In a previous article, I’ve listed steps and resources for how to overcome disappointment that you might find helpful. 

This article will focus on understanding the reasons you may not have gotten the job and how to use this information to land an even better opportunity for you!

Possible reasons

Before we dig in, let’s make one thing very clear, there shouldn’t be any blame. This isn’t something you deserve. It just wasn’t the right opportunity at this time. 

It’s natural to start to critique your performance, but there are an infinite number of reasons why you didn’t get the offer. Here are a few of them:

Reason 1: there was another candidate who had more direct experience, was an expert in that space or worked with the hiring manager before. Or it was an internal candidate, which is almost impossible to beat.

Reason 2: they don’t know exactly what they’re looking for. Sometimes hiring managers don’t know what they want or need until they meet with people. They may need to go back to the drawing board and change the job description and requirements. 

Reason 3: they had to put the req on hold because they lost the headcount or needed to secure more budget to bring in a more senior person.

Reason 4: sometimes it’s more intangible like chemistry. Sometimes people don’t feel good about one another and/or they’re hard to read or worse, they’re unfriendly. 

Reason 5: maybe you were the most qualified, but not the best cultural fit. And if that’s the case, it’s good they passed. You can’t thrive in a culture where you feel uncomfortable and can’t be your authentic self, which is essential for doing your best work. 

Reason 6: it might be that you weren’t able to articulate clear and concise answers or were overly eager, nervous or negative. That made them feel uneasy or unsure about you.

Reason 7: it may not be the right role for you. Sometimes it’s a stretch or in an area that you’re not that familiar with or interested in. Or maybe it’s too low or high level for you.

Reason 8: you didn’t want the job. Even if you showed up with enthusiasm, it affects how you carry yourself, your energy and your confidence — people pick up on that. 

If this is the case, it’s important to ask yourself if you really want this before you pursue other opportunities and accept invites to interviews. I know it’s hard to say no, but you’ll save valuable time and energy that can be spent on ideal opportunities.

Deciphering feedback

Even though the rejection stings, if the recruiter offers to chat with you, always accept. And if they don’t, ask for a few minutes.  

I know it might be the last thing you want to do, but it can be revealing. Once in a while our clients will get a recruiter who gives a lot of feedback, which is super helpful. They’re usually more open on the phone than email.

For example, one of our clients got feedback that they seemed really great at building programs and processes from the ground up, but wasn’t sure about their experience and passion for scaling growth. Coming from a big tech company, she overly focused on her hands-on work knowing that it was important to this hypergrowth unicorn company. 

We spent more time prepping stories that balanced building and scaling and guess what — she got an amazing offer at the next company she interviewed at!

Sometimes you’ll learn the reason why they went with someone else. Other times you’ll get feedback on what you did well, which you should accept as genuine feedback. 

They may also share that you are a great cultural fit and encourage you to stay in touch and keep your eye out for future jobs. This means you’ve made a positive impression and may have a better chance in the near future or later down the line. 

Lastly, they may or may not share exactly why you didn’t get the job. Or worse, and this what I consider to be a cardinal sin, they may point to something that’s easy, but not true. 

For example, a product manager with an engineering background was told he wasn’t technical enough. He in fact, was very technical in the exact area they were hiring for. I later got intel that there wasn’t good chemistry between him and a couple of interviewers. But that’s much harder to convey.

Recruiters are human. They’re happy to share the compliments, but some are less willing to share the constructive feedback.

Apply insights

This is a great time to be self-reflective without judgment and practice self-compassion and kindness.

Writing these answers can be very helpful and surface some valuable insights. 

  • What can you learn from this experience? Be curious. 
  • Could you have practiced more? If so, what could you do differently next time? 
  • If you stumbled through some questions, how can you improve your answers?

And to make things fair, write down what you did well and celebrate those wins. 

Regardless of the feedback or reasons why you didn’t get the job, don’t dwell on them — and please don’t fill in the blanks. If you make up reasons why, you might focus on things that aren’t going to make a material difference and prolong your search. 

The best thing you can do is to give yourself some time and space to grieve your loss. Accept that the decision was out of your control. Practice compassion and kindness to yourself. 

And practice gratitude. Find as many things as possible that you are grateful for. It might be for being one of a few people chosen to interview, meeting great leaders, honing your interview skills and learning more about yourself. 

One of my favorite authors, Gabby Bernstein says: “Obstacles are detours in the right direction.” 

I believe this with 100% certainty: this obstacle is pointing you in the direction of the best job for you!

Are you interested in interview tactics and strategies to land a job where you’ll feel fulfilled, realize your potential and get the compensation you deserve?

If so, then watch our video and book a session with one of our job strategists. We’re excited to talk about your career goals!

Comments Off on You didn’t get the offer, now what?


Add a comment

Your fulfillment is within reach.

Now is the time to invest in your future self, change your career trajectory and find the job you love.

let's do this

Schedule a session with one of our Dream Job Strategists to gain clarity on your next strategic career move.