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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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Published on March 20, 2019

How to Write a Powerful Mission Statement for Your Business

How to Write a Powerful Mission Statement for Your Business

Have you ever felt lost in the minutia of your job?

As a business owner, I can relate to getting bogged down in the day to day operations of my business. Things like inventory, payroll, scheduling, purchasing and employee management take up the bulk of my day.

While these things are important and need to get done, focusing too much on the details can make you lose sight of the big picture. This is why having a good mission statement comes in handy.

What is a Mission Statement?

Put simply, a mission statement is an internal document that provides a clear purpose for the organization. It provides a common reference point for everyone in the organization to start from.

In other words, after reading your company’s mission statement, managers and employees should be able to answer the question “What are company’s main objectives?” For example, Southwest Airlines mission statement reads:[1]

“Southwest Airlines is dedication to the highest quality of Customer Service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and Company Spirit. We are committed to provide our Employees a stable work environment with equal opportunity for learning and personal growth.”

In this single statement, Southwest conveys the company’s goals of providing the highest level of customer service as well as providing a good working environment for their employees.

Mission Statement VS. Vision Statement

While the mission and vision statements are related, there are subtle but distinct differences the you should be aware of.

First of all, a mission statement is designed primarily as an internal company document. It provides clarity and direction for managers and employees.

While there’s nothing wrong with sharing your company’s mission statement with the outside world, its intended audience is within the company.

While a mission statement provides a general framework for the organization, the vision statement is usually a more inspirational statement designed to motivate employees and inspire customers. Going back to Southwest Airlines, their vision statement reads:[2]

“To become the world’s most loved, most flown, and most profitable airline.”

This statement inspires good feeling from the customer while motivating the employees to achieve that vision.

What Does a Good Mission Statement Look Like?

When coming up with a mission statement, it’s important to take your time and do it right. Too often, people (especially entrepreneurs) just write down the first thing that comes to mind and they end up with worthless or (worse yet) a generic mission statement that is utterly useless.

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Remember, a mission statement should provide a common framework for everyone in your organization.

When writing a mission statement, you should always try to incorporate the following;

  • What we do?
  • How we do it?
  • Whom do we do it for?
  • What value are we bringing?

Now, you can see how tempting it is to just come up with something generic that ticks off those four boxes. Something like “We provide the best widgets available online for the consumer.”

After all, that did check off all the boxes:

What we do? Provide widgets.

How we do it? Online.

Who do we do it for? The consumer.

What value we bring? The best widgets.

The problem with this mission statement is that it could apply to any number of companies producing the same widget. There is nothing to distinguish your company or its widgets from any of your competitors widgets.

Compare that mission statement to this one:

“We provide the highest quality widgets directly to the consumer at an affordable price backed up with a 100% satisfaction guarantee. If our clients aren’t 100% satisfied, we’ll make it right.”

What’s the difference?

Both mission statements answer all the same questions of what, how, whom and value. But in the second statement, they are differentiating their company from all other competitors by answering the question “what makes us unique”.

Another way to read that is, “Why you should buy from us.” In this example, it’s because our widgets are of the highest quality and we stand behind them 100%.

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You might have noticed the statement didn’t say that we sell widgets at the lowest possible price. That’s because we are emphasizing quality and satisfaction over price.

A different company’s mission statement may emphasize selling widgets at the lowest possible price with little to no mention of a guarantee.

Hallmarks of a Good Mission Statement

1. Keep It Brief

Your mission statement should be no longer than three sentences. This is not your company’s magnum opus.

You should be able to distill the what, how, who and why questions into a succinct message.

2. Have a Purpose

A company’s missions statement should include the reason it even exists.

Make clear exactly what the company does with statements like “We strive to provide our customers with …….”

3. Include a “How”

Take this as an opportunity to differentiate your company from its competitors.

How do you provide a product or service that’s different or better than how your competitor provides it?

4. Talk About the Value You Bring to the Table

This is where you can really set yourself apart from the competition. This is the “why” customers should buy from you.

Do you offer the lowest prices? Fastest delivery? Exceptional customer service? Whatever it is that sets you apart and gives your particular products, services or company an advantage talk about it in the mission statement.

5. Make Sure It’s Plausible

It’s okay to shoot for the stars just to settle for the moon, but not in a mission statement.

Being overly ambitious will only set you and your employees up for failure, hurt morale and make you lose credibility. You will also scare away potential investors if they think that you are not being realistic in your mission statement.

6. Make It Unique and Distinctive

Imagine if someone who knew nothing about your business walked in and saw how it was operating, then they read your mission statement. Would they be able to recognize that mission statement was attached to that business? If not re-work it.

7. Think Long Term

A mission statement should be narrow enough so that it provides a common framework for the existing business, but open enough to allow for longer term goals. It should be able to grow as the business grows.

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8. Get Feedback

This is very important, especially from managers and employees.

Getting their input can clarify how they currently see the company and their role within the organization. It’s also a good way to get people “on-board,” as studies show that people are more likely to go along with an idea if they feel included in the decision making process beforehand.

9. Review Often and Revise as Necessary

You should review the missions statement often for two reasons.

First, as a reminder of what the essence of the company is. It’s easy to forget when you are in the day to day grind of the business.

And two, to make sure that the mission statement is still relevant. Things change, and not everything can be anticipated at the time a mission statement was written.

For example, if a mission statement was written before the advent of the internet, a company that use to sell things door to door now probably has a website that people order from. You should always update the mission statement to reflect these changes.

The Value of Mission Statements: Why Go Through All of These in the First Place?

It may seem like a lot of work just for a few sentences that describe a company, but the value of a well written mission statement should not be discounted.

First of all, if you are an entrepreneur, crystallizing the what, how, whom and value questions will keep you focused on the core business and its values.

If you are a manager or other employee, knowing the company’s basic tenants will help inform your interactions with both customers and colleagues alike.

Strategic Planning

A relevant mission statement acts as a framework for strategic planning. It provides guidance and parameters for making strategic decisions for the future of the company.

Measuring Performance

By having the company’s mission in a concrete form, it also allows for an objective measurement of how well the organization is meeting its stated goals at any one time.

Management can identify strengths and weaknesses in the organization based on the criteria set forth in the mission statement and make decisions accordingly.

Solidifying the Company’s Goals and Values for Employees

Part of a well run organization is nurturing happy and productive employees.

As humans, we all have an innate need for both purpose and to be part of something larger than ourselves. Providing employees with a clearly defined mission statement helps to define their role in the larger organization. Thus, fulfilling both of these needs.

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Now I’m not saying that a mission statement can overcome low pay and poor working conditions, but with everything else being equal, it can contribute to a happier and more productive workforce.

To Hold Management Accountable

By creating a mission statement, a company is publicly stating its highest values and goals for the world to see. By doing so, you are inviting both the public and your employees to to scrutinize how well the company lives up to its ideals.

So if you state that you only provide the highest quality products, and then offer something less, it’s fair for both the public and the employees to question, and even call for a change in management.

If management doesn’t take the mission statement seriously, no one else will either; and the legitimate authority that management rely’s on will be diminished.

To Serve as an Example

This is the opposite side of the coin from the previous statement. If the highest levels of management are seen taking the mission statement seriously and actively managing within the framework of the statement, that attitude filters down throughout the organization.

After all, a good employee knows what’s important to their boss and will take the steps necessary to curry favor with them.

Finally, use the company’s mission statement as a way to define roles within the company. You can do this by giving each division in the company a copy of the mission statement and challenge the head of each division to create a mission statement for their respective departments.

Their individual mission statements should focus on how each department fits in and ultimately contributes to the success of the company’s overall mission statement. This serves as both a clarifying and a team building exercise for all parts of the organization.

Final Thoughts

Developing a mission statement is too often just an after-thought, especially for entrepreneurs. We tend to prioritize things that we perceive will give us the biggest “bang for our buck.”

Somehow, taking the time and effort to sit down and think seriously about the what, whom, how and value of our business seems like a waste of time. After all, we got in the business to make money and become successful, isn’t that all we need to know?

That mindset will probably get you started okay, but if you find yourself having any success at all, you’ll find that there really is such a thing as growing pains.

By putting in the time and effort to create a mission statement, you are laying the groundwork that will give you a path to follow in your growth. And isn’t building long term success what we are really after?

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Featured photo credit: Fab Lentz via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Southwest Airlines: About Page
[2] Fit Small Business: 10 Vision Statement Examples To Spark Your Imagination

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