So You Didn't Get the Job. So, What?

  • Schonali
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  • 19 Nov 2018


I walked out of my 15th interview where they had told me I was overqualified for the position.

The 14 interviews before that had rejected me for – being under qualified, not the right cultural fit, not enough experience in that role, not enough experience working with their type of clientele, too much experience, new to the country, too diverse a resume...

The length and variety of the list was a joke.

I got on the subway with a cup of coffee and a newspaper from the free kiosk, only to find that there were no seats left and only enough standing room between a large man with debilitating body odour and a liberally hair-sprayed woman vociferously chewing gum.


I was spat out the door at my station by the ebbing mob of humanity coming off their lunch hour, running back to air-conditioned desk-jobs with fluid office hours and unlimited coffee from dazzling cappuccino machines in sparkling cafeterias that served twelve world cuisines and a global array of pastries and desserts. My petrol station coffee had spilt down my shirt.

I clocked in to my contract summer job – bartending at a patio bar for the Big 4 banks around it – and changed pearly-beige interview heels for sensible black shoes in the airless, cramped, crumbling locker room. The apron covered the coffee stain; the pants were pragmatic.

Stepping out the door, I swung in behind the bar, arms ready to lift, legs ready to stand for the next 6 hours, hands simultaneously heaving the keg handle and slicing a mug under its tap to lasso the frothy rush of beer; smile plastered on my face, and the promise of bat-whacked feet that night.

I looked out across the patio at all the “suits” chattering importantly on their phones and smiling elegantly at each other’s workday stories in the glittering summer sun... Was this really my life?


“Hey, girl! Earth calling!”

My mum’s friend from work. From one of the Big 4 banks.

Yes, the irony is teeth-clenchingly clear.

“Why so glum, chum?”

“Oh, nothing. I just got rejected from my 15th job interview, that’s all. I think I need to just get the picture and come to terms with the fact that I will forever pay the consequences of not having got a ‘proper job’ straight after graduation, and trying to ‘explore alternative options’ like THIS ONE, instead. It’s no use applying to jobs that my US college degree prepped me for, because, obviously, my experience is too eclectic for one of them fancy firms. Like yours.”

Pointed glare.

“Wow. Hello, sunshine! Nice to see you too, on my unscheduled-coffee-break-that-I’m-spending-saying-hello-to-you-instead-of-actually-getting-a-coffee.”

Pointed look of ‘quit your BS pity-party’ right back at me.

“Well, what do you expect me to DO, Aunty??? I’m so fed up of being rejected.”

And then... the words that changed my life, and have remained with me since.

Through 3 career restarts, 2 country relocations, 1 lay-off, first year of baby, post-partum depression, judgemental people, unreliable staff... the twists and turns of life.


“This attitude... it makes you feel good, is it?”


“When you talk to yourself like this, DOES. IT. MAKE. YOU. FEEL. GOOD. ABOUT. YOURSELF?”

“Of course it doesn’t. Duh!”

“Then why do you keep doing it?”

That day, she handed me a tiny, well-worn, dog-eared book on interviewing tips, which I took back home and flipped through – flippantly at first, and then hunched over in enthusiasm, after. It told me how there were questions that ALWAYS came up at interviews and what types of answers most recruiters were looking to hear. It taught me that I should practice these answers over and over again, preferably in front of a mirror, for a few days before the interview. It told me how to dress, how to sit, how to shake hands, how to make eye contact, and what topics to stick to in conversation during an interview. It told me to make a recce trip to the office location a day or two before and clock myself to be 15 minutes early, because, if you’re on time, you’re late.

It taught me so many things that I began putting into practice in all my interviews after that.  

But what SHE taught me that day was so much more.

She taught me how I could change my life by changing my ATTITUDE to it.

By changing my attitude, I read that book differently than I would have, had I retained my negative approach to everything that I thought was happening to me. I had to realize that I was MAKING it all happen to me by believing that it was all I was capable of achieving.

YOU are so much more than you think you are, than others will tell you you are, than you are comfortable being.

Change your attitude; change your life.

The world is changing, and every day the newspapers would have us believe that all our careers are doomed with the looming approach and soft-launch infiltration of AI and bots into the working world.

However, here are some of the Top 10 skills in demand by 2020 that have been predicted by the World Economic Forum’s report – The Future of Jobs, according to this article:

  1. Cognitive flexibility
  2. Negotiation skills
  3. Service orientation
  4. Judgment and decision-making
  5. Emotional intelligence
  6. Coordinating with others
  7. People management
  8. Creativity
  9. Critical thinking
  10. Complex problem-solving

All of these skills are ones that YOU, woman on a break and women in general, practice every day. So, worry not – you got this.

And here are some tips for the next time you get a rejection email after an interview:

  • Close your eyes and take a deep breath – in... and out... Tell yourself, “This too shall pass. The rest of today is mine, and tomorrow is a promise filled with good things. When a window closes, it only means a door is opening somewhere, at some time, for me. My time WILL come”;
  • Call a friend who never fails to make you feel good and set up a time to meet over coffee. Spend that time reaffirming everything good about each other;
  • Get back to your computer, open that rejection email, and send a THANK YOU email to the sender. Keep every bridge in life intact and strong. You never know when history will repeat itself and karma will reward you;
  • Go to JobsForHer and browse our jobs in 4000+ companies who want to hire women just like YOU because of everything you bring to the table;
  • Apply to 10 more jobs that day
  • Say thank you to the universe – it is keeping something special in store for you. Your time is coming.

So you didn’t get the job. SO. WHAT.

The job that’s right for you is around the corner. Keep looking, keep applying, keep the faith.

Because YOU are the creator of your fate... when you decide to be.  

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