Balancing an Endless Rope of Interviews
Rejection is part of the game but persistence and a positive attitude set you apart from other candidates
Thirty-six. That’s the number of jobs I applied to before landing my first job out of college. Not three. Not six. Thirty-six.
Eleven. That’s the number of interviews I had in the first few months after college before receiving a job offer. In many of those interviews, I thought — I nailed it. I thought, in a few days, they’ll offer me the job. I thought, finally the process is over.
If I had been playing baseball, I would have had a .090 batting average, a whopping 1-for-11. That’s a full .110 points behind Mario Mendoza’s famous “Mendoza Line” — .200 — which, as it turns out, is not particularly good. In fact, he is the bad professional baseball player that other bad players are compared to.
To put it bluntly, rejection or “failure” sucks, but it’s part of the game. How you handle it and learn from it is what can set you apart from other candidates. As with most things in life, a combination of persistence and a positive attitude will serve you well.
Chances are, you too have had interviews that you thought went well, and you walked out the door thinking that the job was yours, only to later be notified (or not) that there were many strong candidates but…
Here are three truths that will help you learn from your strikeouts (sorry, had to tie up the baseball metaphor with a bad cliché).
1. You are not Professor X.
Unfortunately, you are not the fictional superhero and X-men character Professor X who can read and control minds. Other than being prepared, being yourself, and making sure to follow up post-interview - which are all hardly heroic - there’s not much you can do to impact the hiring manager’s decision.
However, if you adopt an outcome-independent philosophy, and don’t allow rejection to negatively affect your efforts, you will find that interview “failures” are actually learning experiences. To an extent, interviewing is a skill. The more you have, the better you will be at them.
Since you can’t be a superhero, be an optimist. It beats the alternative.
2. You are also not Eeyore.
Okay, you’ve been rejected a dozen times and counting. So what? Leave the dwelling up to Eeyore, who fictionally does enough of it for all of us. Once you’ve followed up with whoever interviewed you, you’re on to the next opportunity with Winnie-the-Pooh gusto. You’ll find the honey, I promise. You probably won’t even get stuck in a rabbit hole.
3. Your interviewer’s favorite dessert is banana cream pie.
It probably isn’t (does anyone like banana cream pie?), but the point is, remembering specific details about the interviewer and mentioning them in your follow-up email is a great way to remind him or her of who you are and that you took an interest in not only the position and company but in that person as well.
Maintain a spreadsheet to keep track of your job applications and interviews. Keep timely information like date interviewed, date followed up, contact name and email address, and specific details from the interview, like — you guessed it — you and your interviewer’s shared interest for banana cream pies.
No matter if bad baseball players, comic strip superheroes, or children’s book characters resonate with you, please join in on celebrating stick-to-it-iveness and positivity. They are qualities that will only help you get the job you’re looking for, and with a little luck, sooner than I did.
Monster Wants to Know: How many interviews did you go through before getting your first job? What tips would you give to first-time interviewers? Share with us in the comment section.