Tell me if this sounds familiar… After applying for a job, you are thrilled when you are invited to a phone interview with a recruiter. You prepare and you think, “That went well!” The company agrees and you are invited for a formal interview with the team. You do your research, try to anticipate the questions they may ask, and check out the several faces you can expect to see on screen.

That interview goes well too, and hooray! You make it to the final round! You feel prepared. During the interview, you meet some new people, everyone smiles, and afterwards you’re feeling positive.

And then you wait. And, overall, you’re optimistic. Until you get the message (if they don’t ghost you), that they selected someone else, a “more qualified candidate,” or a “better fit.”

UGH. Anger. Dread. Disappointment. Worse, you’ve got to keep up this crazy dance of job hunting. You’re not done yet. UGH.

What matters next is the meaning you give this situation. And, there’s only one thing you can be sure of: The job was not a good fit for you. Period.

How do I know? Because they didn’t choose you. That means one of several things:

  1. You were not the best candidate.
  2. You were the best candidate, but in that moment, they couldn’t see it.
  3. There was an internal candidate.
  4. There was disagreement about the selection, and the person with the most influence preferred another candidate for reasons having nothing to do with your qualifications or the interview.

So, what does it mean when you don’t get the offer? It means you just dodged a bullet. You don’t want a role in which you were not the best candidate. You don’t want a role where the folks you work with can’t see your value. You don’t want a role where you’re working with an internal candidate who thought they should have gotten the job. And you certainly don’t want a role in an environment where someone uses their influence to hire someone who isn’t objectively the best choice for the job.

If you’re smart you didn’t stop your search while this was all playing out (don’t ever stop your search until you have an offer in hand!). There’s only one thing you can do now: Take notes on what you learned and consider if there is anything that you might do better, or differently next time. That’s the only thing you have control over.

Job hunting is a game of persistence.
The ones who win are the ones who keep going.

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