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8 Lessons You Can Learn From A Job Interview Rejection

8 Lessons You Can Learn From A Job Interview Rejection

I had an interesting conversation with a man who called to reject my employment the other day. After the initial “we’ve decided to go in another direction for this position,” he and I managed to have a refreshingly honest discussion. I respected the company’s decision not to hire me, and I understood that they felt somebody else was better suited for the job. And as frustrating as it is to know that I did everything in my power to get this job (including a second-round interview during which I was in rare form), there was one thing he said during this exchange that made it bittersweet.

The man told me that I was his choice for the position, but that he and his superior agreed that the other candidate would stay at the company longer. They liked me and knew I would benefit their business, but they felt like I would use the position as a stepping stone and find another job within a year or so.

Of course, there are some obvious factors that may have contributed to my recent job interview rejection. Sure, my résumé could always use tweaking, and maybe I should’ve worn my blue tie instead of that green one. Oh, and I knew I should’ve spent an extra few minutes perfecting my hair and shining my shoes. But these aren’t the reasons I didn’t get the position.

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I have been on many interviews for jobs and internships, and I have found that I learn a valuable lesson from each one. The interview mentioned above taught me something about myself, which is the first of various lessons you can learn from a job interview rejection.

1. Always be yourself.

For a while, I entered interviews acting like the person I thought the company wanted me to be. Most employers and interviewers are smart enough to figure out whether or not you are actually a good fit for the job, and if you’re even really interested. You have nothing to lose by simply being genuine.

2. Be confident.

Confidence is attractive to employers. For a company to believe in your abilities, you need to believe in yourself. They want a worker who trusts his/her gut and makes difficult decisions without looking back. There is a reason the company called you in for an interview. Sometimes, you need to approach a job interview like a tryout for an athletics team and put the competition to shame. Remember that this is a competition of sorts, so don’t sell yourself short.

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3. Be humble.

You never want to be too self-assured, though. There is a major difference between being a team player and thinking you are the entire team. Nobody likes a showoff, and very few companies view arrogance as a desirable quality. Show that you believe in yourself, but remember that modesty shows maturity.

4. Being able to identify your weaknesses is a strength.

A popular question interviewers ask is: “what is your biggest weakness?” Now, while this might be more difficult to answer than a question about your strengths, it is just as important (if not more important). Part of modesty is acknowledging that you have weaknesses, as well as the patience and determination to turn those weaknesses into your greatest strengths. If you know the areas in which you excel and the areas in which you can improve, then you will be a much more valuable asset to any team.

5. Ask more questions.

Don’t be afraid to take the offensive. Become the interviewer for a portion of the meeting. This shows that you have interest in the company and the position, and it gives you a chance to steer the conversation in the direction you want it to go. Sometimes, on the ride home from an interview, we will remember questions we wanted to ask the potential employer. Well, ask them in a follow-up email or phone call. This demonstrates your passion and perseverance.

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6. There is always room for improvement.

Let’s not kid ourselves; we can always get better. Find out what companies are looking for in an employee. Be sure to get feedback from the interviewer after the interview, or even after the rejection. If you’ve already been rejected, what do you have to lose by asking? This is when some of the most genuine dialogues occur, including my aforementioned experience.

7. Be more than just a piece of paper.

Changing a few words around is not going to be the determining factor in a job interview. Yes, your résumé is important, and so is your cover letter. But no company is going to hire a piece of paper. The personality, the skills, and the work ethic of the person behind the résumé is the key to winning the position.

8. Sometimes, rejection is a blessing in disguise.

Adversity makes future success taste even sweeter. Sure, it is a nice feeling to have the world in the palm of your hand right out of college, but the process of reaching out and grabbing it is what truly matters. And that is something we must never forget: it’s a process. So, let’s worry about the things we can control and learn to put less weight on the things we can’t. All we can do is continue to get better and hope that our progress doesn’t go unnoticed.

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While getting turned down is certainly not the best feeling in the world, there are definitely some lessons you can learn from a job interview rejection. Hopefully, we can use these lessons that I have learned personally to keep improving. And I’m willing to bet that every time one of us shakes hands and sits down with a potential employer, we will take away something valuable from the experience, regardless of the outcome.

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Last Updated on June 18, 2019

5 Types of Leadership Styles (And Which Is Best for You)

5 Types of Leadership Styles (And Which Is Best for You)

It takes great leadership skills to build great teams.

The best leaders have distinctive leadership styles and are not afraid to make the difficult decisions. They course-correct when mistakes happen, manage the egos of team members and set performance standards that are constantly being met and improved upon.

With a population of more than 327 million, there are literally scores of leadership styles in the world today. In this article, I will talk about the most common leadership styles and how you can determine which works best for you.

5 Types of Leadership Styles

I will focus on 5 common styles that I’ve encountered in my career: democratic, autocratic, transformational, transactional and laissez-faire leadership.

The Democratic Style

The democratic style seeks collaboration and consensus. Team members are a part of decision-making processes and communication flows up, down and across the organizational chart.

The democratic style is collaborative. Author and motivational speaker Simon Sinek is an example of a leader who appears to have a democratic leadership style.

    The Autocratic Style

    The autocratic style, on the other hand, centers the preferences, comfort and direction of the organization’s leader. In many instances, the leader makes decisions without soliciting agreement or input from their team.

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    The autocratic style is not appropriate in all situations at all times, but it can be especially useful in certain careers, such as military service, and in certain instances, such as times of crisis. Steve Jobs was said to have had an autocratic leadership style.

    While the democratic style seeks consensus, the autocratic style is less interested in consensus and more interested in adherence to orders. The latter advises what needs to be done and expects close adherence to orders.

      The Transformational Style

      Transformational leaders drive change. They are either brought into organizations to turn things around, restore profitability or improve the culture.

      Alternatively, transformational leaders may have a vision for what customers, stakeholders or constituents may need in the future and work to achieve those goals. They are change agents who are focused on the future.

      Examples of transformational leader are Oprah and Robert C. Smith, the billionaire hedge fund manager who has offered to pay off the student loan debt of the entire 2019 graduating class of Morehouse College.

        The Transactional Style

        Transactional leaders further the immediate agenda. They are concerned about accomplishing a task and doing what they’ve said they’d do. They are less interested in changing the status quo and more focused on ensuring that people do the specific task they have been hired to do.

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        The transactional leadership style is centered on short-term planning. This style can stifle creativity and keep employees stuck in their present roles.

        The Laissez-Faire Style

        The fifth common leadership style is laissez-faire, where team members are invited to help lead the organization.

        In companies with a laissez-faire leadership style, the management structure tends to be flat, meaning it lacks hierarchy. With laissez-faire leadership, team members might wonder who the final decision maker is or can complain about a lack of leadership, which can translate to lack of direction.

        Which Leadership Style do You Practice?

        You can learn a lot about your leadership style by observing your family of origin and your formative working experiences.

        Whether you realize it, from the time you were born up until the time you went to school, you were receiving information on how to lead yourself and others. From the way your parents and siblings interacted with one another, to unspoken and spoken communication norms, you were a sponge for learning what constitutes leadership.

        The same is true of our formative work experiences. When I started my communications career, I worked for a faith-based organization and then a labor union. The style of communication varied from one organization to the other. The leadership required to be successful in each organization was also miles apart. At Lutheran social services, we used language such as “supporting people in need.” At the labor union, we used language such as “supporting the leadership of workers” as they fought for what they needed.

        Many in the media were more than happy to accept my pitch calls when I worked for the faith-based organization, but the same was not true when I worked for a labor union. The quest for media attention that was fair and balanced became more difficult and my approach and style changed from being light-hearted to being more direct with the labor union.

        I didn’t realize the impact those experiences had on how I thought about my leadership until much later in my career.

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        In my early experience, it was not uncommon for team members to have direct, brash and tough conversations with one another as a matter of course. It was the norm, not the exception. I learned to challenge people, boldly state my desires and preferences, and give tough feedback, but I didn’t account for the actions of others fit for me, as a black woman. I didn’t account for gender biases and racial biases.

        What worked well for my white male bosses, did not work well for me as an African American woman. People experienced my directness as being rude and insensitive. While I needed to be more forceful in advancing the organization’s agenda when I worked for labor, that style did not bode well for faith-based social justice organizations who wanted to use the love of Christ to challenge injustice.

        Whereas I received feedback that I needed to develop more gravitas in the workplace when I worked for labor, when I worked for other organizations after the labor union, I was often told to dial it back. This taught me two important lessons about leadership:

        1. Context Matters

        Your leadership style must adjust to each workplace you are employed. The challenges and norms of an organization will shape your leadership style significantly.

        2. Not All Leadership Styles Are Appropriate for the Teams You’re Leading

        When I worked on political campaigns, we worked nonstop. We started at dawn and worked late into the evening. I couldn’t expect that level of round-the-clock work for people at the average nonprofit. Not only couldn’t I expect it, it was actually unhealthy. My habit of consistently waking up at 4 am to work was profoundly unhealthy for me and harmful for the teams I was leading.

        As life coach and spiritual healer Iyanla Vanzant has said,

        “We learn a lot from what is seen, sensed and shared.”

        The message I was sending to my team was ‘I will value you if you work the way that I work, and if you respond to my 4 am, 5 am and 6 am emails.’ I was essentially telling my employees that I expect you to follow my process and practice.

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        As I advanced in my career and began managing more people, I questioned everything I thought I knew about leadership. It was tough. What worked for me in one professional setting did not work in other settings. What worked at one phase of my life didn’t necessarily serve me at later stages.

        When I began managing millennials, I learned that while committed to the work, they had active interests and passions outside of the office. They were not willing to abandon their lives and happiness for the work, regardless of how fulfilling it might have been.

        The Way Forward

        To be an effective leader, you must know yourself incredibly well. You must be self-reflective and also receptive to feedback.

        As fellow Lifehack contributor Mike Bundrant wrote in the article 10 Essential Leadership Qualities That Make a Great Leader:

        “Those who lead must understand human nature, and they start by fully understanding themselves…They know their strengths, and are equally aware of their weaknesses and thus understand the need for team work and the sharing of responsibility.”

        The way to determine your leadership style is to get to know yourself and to be mindful of the feedback you receive from others. Think about the leadership lessons that were seen, sensed and shared in your family of origin. Then think about what feels right for you. Where do you gravitate and what do you tend to avoid in the context of leadership styles?

        If you are really stuck, think about using a personality assessment to shed light on your work patterns and preferences.

        Finally, the path for determining your leadership style is to think about not only what you need, or what your company values, but also what your team needs. They will give you cues on what works for them and you need to respond accordingly.

        Leadership requires flexibility and attentiveness. Contrary to unrealistic notions of leadership, being a leader is less about being served and more about being of service.

        More About Leadership

        Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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