I Didn’t Get the Job – But I Did Learn These 5 Things

For the last four months, I’ve been unsuccessfully trying to find a new job. The opportunities for me to move to another organization in a related field is pretty limited – as in, I’ve only applied for 3 jobs so far. (It’s not surprising, considering I live in a small, somewhat remote blue-collar city, and I work in a creative field.) I was fortunate enough to land an interview for 2 of them, but sadly I was not offered the position for either.

The first interview was back in mid-February. To be honest, I didn’t really want the job – I just really want out of my current one and it paid really well. I could tell leaving the interview that I wasn’t going be hearing back from them.

The second job, however, was a different story. I grew very attached to it, felt ridiculously confident, and thought I nailed the interview which was two weeks ago. Instead, my ego took a hit as each day passed without getting that phone call offering me the job (or not, for that matter).

Although it’s a rough situation to be in and I’m growing increasingly desperate (as in I’ve applied for jobs at the mall!), it wasn’t a complete waste to get back out there interviewing again, even if it hasn’t yet panned out. I did learn the following 5 things:

1. Job Interviews in the Winter Suck.

How do you dress professionally when you have to wear winter boots, a giant coat, and a hat? And what the heck are you supposed to do with them once you get inside? My last interview (that landed me my current job) was a phone interview – I was literally in my pajamas at home with all my notes and cheat sheets spread out in front of me. If only all job interviews were like that!

2. I Still Feel Like I’m Playing Dress Up.

While on the topic of clothes – is it just me, or does your interview attire make you feel a little kid that raided mom or dad’s closet? Even though I’m almost 30 and have an age-appropriate simple suit, I still feel ridiculous. For my second interview, I purposely chose a different pair of pants and blouse that fit better and was a little more “me” (because I was so fidgety in the first interview), but I still felt silly and uncomfortable.

3. No Amount of Preparation Will Save You If You Don’t Understand the Position.

I wasn’t surprised about not getting offered the first job I interviewed for – because I had no clue what the job was. The position title and qualifications listed made it sound like it was perfect for me, but when I actually started dissecting the numerous items listed under responsibilities, I clearly didn’t stand a chance. Most of the questions I thought they’d ask me, they didn’t, leaving me unprepared for the ones they did ask. I literally sat in my car for 5 minutes after that interview figuratively scratching my head.

4. Rejection – Even if Anticipated – Is Still Rejection.

I knew I wasn’t getting that first job, but it still hurt when I opened my email and saw it in writing. It was so much worse with the second job, because I thought I’d for sure at least be called back for a follow-up interview. They made it clear they wanted someone to start immediately, so within 2 days of not hearing back, I knew it wasn’t happening – but that didn’t stop me from clinging to my phone until 5pm each day – y’know, just in case. Technically, I haven’t been rejected from this position yet – I just haven’t heard anything at all. I called to follow up after a week and the secretary’s tone changed completely once I explained why I was calling. She chose her words very carefully and cautiously, which pretty much gave me my answer. I still left a message though, which has not been returned. Bummer.

5. It Gets Easier.

Job interviews are no fun… in both cases I spent HOURS reading interviewing tips, practicing my answers to the common questions, and learning everything I could about the companies. Although I spent significantly less time preparing for my second interview, my nerves were much calmer and I feel like I presented myself much better. After leaving the first interview, I really started questioning myself – what could I have done better or differently, did I ramble too much, fidget too much, add too many “umms” and not enough eye contact, etc. With the second, however, I felt like I did everything I could to sell myself and convince them that I’m the right person for the job. Here’s hoping third time’s the charm…

What lessons have you learned from job interviews (either successful or unsuccessful)?  Share your wisdom!

Amanda Kay

Amanda Kay, an Employment Specialist and founder of My Life, I Guess, strives to keep the "person" in personal finance by writing about money, mistakes, and making a living. She focuses on what it’s like being in debt, living paycheck to paycheck, and surviving unemployment while also offering advice and support for others in similar situations - including a FREE library of career & job search resources.

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