Runner up, again! Reeling from Interview Rejection

Ever felt frustrated with your job search?  An Executive in transition provides a great perspective on how to recover from interview rejection and keep going. Here’s her story:

I thought the third time was a charm - guess again!  Here’s my advice on how to get back on your feet after an interview rejection and keep moving forward.

After participating in three executive searches and being the runner up three times, I was deflated, exhausted and tired of psychometric testing.  From being told I had the ‘wrong leadership style’, ‘didn’t have enough tech experience’, to only being brought forward because I’m a female executive, I was needing some time to step back and rethink my job search process.  

I was left wondering what else I could bring to the table as a differentiator to position me as the ‘right’ candidate.  What should I be more of or less of to land the job?  But honestly after some self reflection I couldn’t think of anything I would want to change.  I am my own brand with a strong reputation - I didn’t need to conform to be more ‘x’ or ‘y’.  I needed to continue to be true to myself, my values and know that a great opportunity is around the corner.

So, after 3 rounds am I frustrated? Heck ya! But I also know it’s not me.  It just wasn't the right role, culture or fit.  The short-term pinch hurts, but staying committed to myself and what I bring to the table will pay - it always has. So, lean in and trust the process. It can - and does take time.

When faced with rejection you have the option to view this as three strikes and you’re out, or three ‘not quite rights’ and be confident that another great opportunity is out there for you.  I continue to choose the latter and encourage you to do the same.

Ferriss’ philosophy is “failure isn’t failure if you can gain new skills and develop relationships”. This is such a great way to think about life and what we do.  So, interview failure can be reframed: your interview skills are becoming refined, your understanding of the market is deepening, and your network is expanding.

Some more suggestions on how to invest your time while job searching:

  1.  Expand your network.  Weekly get out of your home office and connect.  It’s critical that you stay in the loop, remain relevant and connected with your professional colleagues.  Hint:   Consider talking with your vendors.  They are your ‘silent salespersons’ as they know one day you will be doing business with them again.  Also, they know what’s happening in the market.
  2. Job searches take time.  Use your time wisely by also keeping your skills fresh.  Take a course, sign up for a webinar or attend a conference.  These can also provide great networking opportunities.
  3.  Look for where you can give back.  Step into a volunteer leadership role as a Board or committee member within your professional association or a charity of choice.
  4.  Consider contracting or consulting your services.  These gigs can open the door to permanent opportunities.
  5.  Offer to share your expertise through volunteering to speak to a class at a university or college.
  6.  Stay open to what shows up.  Your career might take you in a completely new but very exciting and energizing direction.  It’s sometimes worth exploring every option.
  7.  Lastly, take breaks.  You’ve left a job that probably had you run off your feet and you need a solid break before launching into your next opportunity.  Be sure to take the time to refresh and reset.

If you are thinking you’re alone in your job search struggles, a CIO colleague shared: ‘If I had a ribbon for every time I was a runner up, I could paste a wall.’   It’s key that you adopt the basketball great, Michael Jordan’s attitude that you have to play a lot of shots to find the one that is the sweet spot.

You will land the right role but realize that patience is a virtue. So use your time wisely while on sabbatical.  Be ok with being frustrated - for a minute – knowing that everything you’re going through will lead you to the right role.

Author: Joanne Loberg of JL Careers Inc. is a Certified Executive Coach and Internationally Certified Career Management Professional.  She has a reputation as a highly sought after Career Consultant and she has been referred to as "an absolute expert at navigating the complex territory of career advancement.” Joanne provides leadership coaching as well as career transition coaching, career planning workshops, and job search services (resumes, LinkedIn profiles, cover letters, interview practice) for Professionals and Executives. Copyright 2017 JL Careers Inc. All rights reserved.

Going on Interviews and Not Landing Offers?

Let's connect for a complimentary Interview Audit to determine what you need to do to start acing the interview and landing great job offers. I can be reached at

I look forward to hearing from you!

Joanne Loberg
Certified Executive Coach & Internationally Certified Career Management Professional
JL Careers Inc


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JL Careers provides Career and Leadership Coaching, Career Development Workshops, and Career Transition Services which support organizational succession planning, leadership development and employee engagement strategies.