How To Respond To A Job Rejection In A Way That Benefits You

Medically reviewed by Nikki Ciletti, M.Ed, LPC
Updated February 20, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team
Ilona Titova/EyeEm
Are you devastated by a job rejection?

Job rejection can be one of the worst experiences to go through in your professional life. Typically, job rejections happen after a lengthy hiring process where you may have sacrificed time and energy to attend interviews, patiently waited for a decision, and spent time imagining yourself in a new role. When you hear the phrase, "Sorry, we have chosen another candidate," it can be difficult not to feel the world crashing down around you. However, there can be beneficial ways to respond to a job rejection. Try to remain professional, ask questions, network, learn from the experience, and seek professional assistance. If you’re having a hard time getting over the rejection, consider speaking with a licensed therapist in person or online.

What you should do when responding to a job rejection

If you have had the unpleasant experience of receiving a job rejection, keep in mind the following list of actions that may benefit you. Not only may they help you overcome the pain of not being selected this time around, but they can also help you better prepare for your next round of interviews.

Remain professional

Responding graciously to a job rejection can be the most important thing to do. Although you may feel hurt on the inside, try not to forget your professionalism. Whether the correspondence occurs over the phone or by email, it can be best to address the hiring manager or human resources representative politely, thanking them for considering you for the position. Consider asking them to keep you in mind for future opportunities and briefly restate how you believe your knowledge and experience would be an asset to their company.

Ask questions

If you have an opportunity to speak directly to the individual who interviewed you, you might ask if they have a few moments to provide feedback for the future. Some interviewers may be comfortable answering straightforward questions, such as, "Can you please elaborate on why another candidate was better suited for the position?" 

You might also ask what you could do differently to improve your chances of being hired by the company. For example, perhaps you needed to gain a specific skill they sought, your education needed updating, or a particular answer in your interview concerned them. Getting information about why you were not selected can help you improve your chances next time.


Consider maintaining contacts within the company. You can do this by asking your interviewer or the hiring manager if you can keep their contact information for future reference. Then, reach out to them a few weeks later and inquire about new opportunities. In addition, try to stay in touch with other people you know in your industry and remain up to date on new developments and work possibilities. 


If you end up establishing a good relationship with someone in the company, you can ask them to keep you informed regarding new opportunities matching your skill set and experience. It can be helpful to look at networking resources online if you need help establishing this type of professional relationship.

Make changes now

Consider these steps for making your next interview result in a hire:

  • Take more time and care when filling out job applications.
  • Consider ways to be better prepared for the next interview. 
  • Update and polish your resume so it accurately reflects your skills and experience. 
  • Learn new skills that are crucial in your industry. 

Learn from the experience

Just because you did not end up with the job does not necessarily mean the experience was a waste of time. For example, consider all the valuable information you learned about the company during the interview. Maybe the interviewer gave you a deeper idea of what they were looking for in a candidate, or perhaps they were interested in an aspect of your background you did not anticipate. All this information can be valuable in a future interview with the same company or its competitor.

Look at the competitors

If you have yet to land a job with the company you have your heart set on, it can be wise to look to their competitors. Often, job descriptions are the same for equal roles between two companies, meaning you are likely already qualified for a similar role elsewhere. In addition, since you have already been through the hiring process with one company, you will probably be more prepared for another round of interviews with their competitor.

Remember that although you did not land the role with your dream company, getting your foot in the door in your industry can be helpful in the long run. Professionals frequently move back and forth between competing companies in the same industry, meaning you may be able to network with individuals who have come from or are moving to the company where you want to work.

Seek professional assistance

It might be time to consult a professional if you seem to meet all the requirements for positions you desire, yet never get hired. Take classes, find a consultant who specializes in how to write a job-winning resume, or speak with someone who can help you fine-tune your interviewing skills.

The problem may be as simple as not selling yourself correctly. Many professionals can be overlooked because their resumes lack essential information, or they come off as too quiet or nervous during interviews. If a mental or emotional obstacle is standing in the way of your interview success, it can be beneficial to reach out to someone who can help you make changes. 

What you shouldn’t do when responding to a job rejection

When it comes to not being selected for a position, it may not always be what you do that matters, but what you do not do that can make a difference.

Do not confront

If you are having a hard time finding out why a company rejected you and they are not willing to provide additional information, do not seek out those answers yourself. It’s generally not wise to ask to speak to your interviewer directly to confront them and try to avoid demanding answers from them. Doing this can be a quick way to disqualify yourself from future interviews with the company.

Don’t fight back

If a hiring manager or interviewer graciously gives you information about why you were not selected, it’s best not to argue with them about their reasoning. For example, if they claim they could not offer you the position because you did not have enough experience with computers, do not try to refute them by suddenly presenting all your PC knowledge.

While they might be wrong, you are typically the one responsible for presenting yourself as the most qualified candidate for the job. It is usually not the interviewer’s fault if you did not effectively communicate your expertise. Instead, try to keep this in mind for your next interview.

Avoid trash-talking the company

Since you have yet to land your dream job, chances are you will be interviewing at other companies until you find your next role. While doing so, it can be best to avoid speaking poorly of a company that rejected you. Not only is it possible the person interviewing you knows someone from the previous company you interviewed with, but you may also come across as unprofessional.

Getty/Vadym Pastukh
Are you devastated by a job rejection?

As a rule of thumb, try to speak positively about your past professional experience, other companies, and the hiring process. The job interview should generally focus on you and what you can bring to the job. Dwelling on past experiences may only show hiring managers you are not ready to move forward, potentially reducing your chances of landing your next job.

Remember to keep looking

At no point in the job search should you give up looking for other jobs or abandon your career goals. Even when you are going through the hiring process with your dream company, it is often a good idea to apply to other similar positions. If you skipped this step, you might send out applications as soon as possible. The longer it takes for you to get back in the game, the longer you may go without an income, and the less impressed future hiring managers may be.

Consider talking to a therapist

Job rejection can prompt anxiety or symptoms of depression, potentially making it harder to keep going in a job search. If you struggle to maintain your mental health after a job rejection, consider talking to a mental health professional. 

Benefits of online therapy

If you are out of work, you might be concerned about the cost of talking to a therapist. However, online therapy platforms tend to be more cost-effective than traditional face-to-face therapy. Plus, online therapy sessions can often be scheduled outside of typical office hours, which can make it easier to fit therapy into your busy schedule.

Effectiveness of online therapy

Brief therapy is a type of mental health care typically focusing on intensive, short-term sessions that can help a person progress quickly. Short-term, solution-focused therapy generally has an excellent track record for success when delivered through an online platform. 


Responding to a job rejection often takes strength. It can be painful knowing the company you want to work for did not select you for a role that matters to you. However, it’s generally best to act professionally, learn from the experience, and seek professional assistance so that you can improve before your next interview. Try to avoid confronting the person who interviewed you, fighting back, or trash-talking the company that rejected you. If you are having trouble moving on after a job rejection, consider talking to a therapist online or in person.
Is rejection negatively impacting you?
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