Handling rejection

A few weeks back, we had a candidate interview onsite with a client. It didn’t end well. Some quotations from a mail we received the following day, errors left intact:

I was exposed to a couple of rank amateurs with an agenda.

If you wanted a code monkey, you should have advertised that fact and not waste my time.

I am not amused by seeing dogs running around in a business setting. It’s unprofessional and quite infantile. Indeed, the  the idom “The Country is going to the dogs” has become more than a metaphor.

I am part of that generation that witnessed the success of one of the greatest engineering projects of all time, the landing of a man on the moon. What we have now, with the current generation of poorly educated engineers and an army of unethical cretins, is scandalous.


Rejection? Rejection is hard.

Here are some better ways of handling it.

  • Do ask for feedback, and listen to what you’re told. If you’ve built a good relationship with the recruiter, always feel free to ask for feedback. She may not be able to provide it – she might not know what happened, or can’t talk about it, or can’t find a way to communicate it clearly – but it’s always ok to ask, and you might learn something useful for future interviews. It also paints you as someone who cares.
  • Don’t argue with the feedback. Arguing with a recruiter about the feedback from an interview or resume review is like arguing with your boss about a performance review: you might be objectively right, but this is a reality v. perception game where perception wins. You’re never going to look better by just trying to convince the recruiter that she or the hiring manager is wrong. Do point out errors of fact, especially for things that might not be obvious to a less-technical person (“you say I don’t have experience with MVC: I’ve worked with Symfony for two years, and it’s an MVC framework” is a perfectly fine point, for example); especially in the early process, that might be useful, and is the only way you might have a decision be reconsidered.
  • Do ask for other options. If you’re working with a third-party recruiter who does work with a number of companies, always ask if he has another option for you, or (with a larger firm) if someone else there might. Sounds silly, but we might just forget about the other jobs in the portfolio, and that forces us to take a step back.
  • Leave with credibility. This is really the key point. Every conversation you have in the job search is about increasing your credibility. Handling this situation with maturity and an interest in understanding only improves your chances for next time.

Lastly, in order to improve our long-tail SEO ranking, I’m repeating “army of unethical cretins” here. “army of unethical cretins.”