How To Survive The Interview Process

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shutterstock_192509111 Business people waiting for job interview. Five candidates competing for one position

Helen Woodley

Helen Woodley is a primary trained SENDCo currently working in a large KS1-4 Pupil Referral Unit in the North East of England. She spent 3 years studying Theology in Durham; Helen has worked in a wide variety of special school settings, including all age schools....
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How can you bounce back from an unsuccessful interview?

Job interviews and everything they entail can be stressful events. But how can we learn from them and turn negatives into positives?

I had always applied for jobs and been successful. But when I began to get the dreaded call saying, “I’m sorry….” my confidence began to waver.

This post is about dealing with the post-interview aftermath when it doesn’t go your way.

8 Tips For The Aftermath of a Job Rejection

My tips are suggestions based upon my own experiences job hunting.

1. The Call

Calling to tell someone they were not successful is a difficult thing to do. Remember that the person calling you will probably feel as nervous and unsettled calling you as you are waiting to get the call.

Stay calm and be polite; don’t let your emotions get in the way of thanking them and asking for any feedback.

You may feel emotional after the call and that is totally fine. Cry or rant as you need but also take some time out for yourself if possible even if that is half an hour in the bath with a book.

2. The Feedback

Some feedback will be very constructive and help you hone your skills, some feedback will feel utterly useless as if the person you are talking to hadn’t met you before.

Hear what they have to say, ask questions if needed, but accept that you need to go away and reflect.

3. The Reflection

Take some time to think about your gut feelings about the day and compare and contrast that to the feedback you had.

If, like me, you had several rejection interviews in succession it can be hard to focus on what you can take away. This is especially frustrating if you feel that the advice you have had is contradictory. See the positives and don’t just focus on the parts to improve.

4. The Acceptance

Interviews are meant to be an open field but we all know that both personality and internal candidates can be a huge factor.

With personality, it is about accepting that you may not have got on with those you had to work closely with. You can have the right experience and vision yet still have a head who is worried if they can face sharing an office with you.

Regarding internal candidates, remember that their interview day is equally if not more, of an emotional roller coaster as your own.

Good schools will minimise the situation and create as level a field as possible. This did not happen in one interview I had for a Deputy Head position, where there were only two of us, myself (an external candidate) and the current Assistant Headteacher; the data task very frustratingly used the school’s own data rather than an anonymous set from somewhere else.

5. The Self Belief

Ok, so your personality didn’t fit or you messed up on the teaching task. Move on. Focus on what you did well, what your strengths are and what you have to offer.

Job interviews are like dating: you have to find the one that fits and you need to hold on to the fact that you will find it.

6. The Next Application

I know that application forms are a pain to fill out but get back on with looking for jobs. If you are in a quiet time of year then focus on getting your personal statement looking as sharp as possible. Ask colleagues you trust to look at it and read around ideas for how to make yours stand out.

7. The Making Best of What You Have

Whilst you are waiting to find your next challenge, focus on your current job. Don’t let your teaching slip but instead use a rejection as a way to invigorate what you do. Remember: anything you are currently doing is fantastic evidence for your next role!

8. The Understanding

Interviews take it out of you. They are week’s worth of thinking, planning and preparing. When you are unsuccessful then it feels like a waste of time. It wasn’t a waste as you will have learnt something about yourself that you didn’t know before. For example I learnt that I needn’t fear data as I had found the task easy.

Keep at it and know that you are far from alone. One day soon I hope to write the next blog in this series: How To Celebrate That Acceptance Call.


If you are looking for ideas about how to even get called to an interview then there is a great blog post by Lynn how right here on Teacher Toolkit.

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