The Shortlist Blues, How to Recognise Them and What to Do With Them

The problem with getting onto a shortlist is that straight away your expectations are raised. Understandable as now you have a good chance of getting the job you applied for. You head off to your first interview and it goes well, you go back for a second and suddenly you’re dreaming about your new job, new salary, new challenges. Very exciting!

Then the call comes and you find out someone else has got the job and your dreams are shattered.

Being rejected after being on a short list can really knock your confidence. But while rejection is not pleasant it can often be blown out of proportion and viewed as a sign we are not wanted or valued. If you feel like that, then it’s time to relax and recalibrate.

Whilst you may not be in control of getting the role, you are in control on what you do next.

Getting on to the shortlist means you have pitched yourself at the right level in the marketplace and you’re applying for the right sort of roles. That is a big plus and demonstrates a sign of professional maturity and a resume that reflects your experience. If you’ve gone through an agency it also means you interview well so you have a lot of pluses going for you.

At the very least you will have learned something as a result of the interview process. We all learn from our experiences and interviewing is no different.

If you performed to the best of your ability, covering your technical expertise and competencies as well as communicating in your most engaging manner in an interview but still missed out on the job, then take comfort from knowing that this was probably the wrong opportunity for you.

The most frustrating place to have to leave the interview process is following your second interview. By then you’ve almost moved in and placed your family/dog/cat photos on the desk. Then the call comes, sorry, you didn’t get the job. Remember, keep perspective, it isn’t the end of the world or your career. It’s just one job.

There are positives. Each candidate on a shortlist for second interview is a person the employer thought could do the job. This means you must have a background and experience that matches the types of roles you are applying for and that you performed well at first interview. In other words, you were a credible candidate.

So remember, selection is a ranking process and this time someone else probably just matched the selection criteria more precisely than you. Next time it could be you who fits the bill better than another candidate.

That’s a normal reaction. It’s ok to be disappointed so find a way to cheer yourself up. Go out for a meal with friends, take your dog for a walk, do whatever makes you feel better. Then once your frame of mind has improved open yourself to some learnings from the experience.

This can be difficult, but it is essential for your development. You may find it easier to receive if you apply through a Recruitment Consultant as they usually have long-standing relationships with employers and will have received candid feedback.

Emphasise how important feedback is to you, as this will show your commitment to self-development and attitude can be just as important as ability. Once received, take any feedback with an open mind and make the relevant improvements to find the job you want. Don’t start arguing, just listen, be sure you understand what they’re saying and process it all later.

Whatever the reasons for not getting a job there is usually a way to improve before another interview. You can talk these through with either your Recruitment COnsultant or a trusted colleague.

If you are struggling with competency based interviews, requiring highly detailed responses, you can use the STAR technique. By using this method you can use specific examples of competencies you have displayed and answer questions in a clear, concise and engaging manner.

  • Situation (describe the situation you were in)
  • Task (what was required of you)
  • Action (what you did and/or delegated to others)
  • Result (the outcome)

Good interview techniques such as this can be learned and developed with some preparation. Think about the core competencies you use on a daily basis in your current role using the STAR technique and revise these during preparation for interviews.

Professional rejection should NEVER be taken personally. It’s the hardest thing to deal with when job hunting, but it has happened to everyone who looks for jobs and you will experience it too. Not every job is right for you, and by the same token you’re not going to want to take every job that is offered to you. It’s a life experience to be kept in perspective.