Burning a bridge—even if it's not intentional, really impacts your ability to network effectively in your job search. Landing a job is all about who you know and who those people know. Word travels fast. Customer service research says it takes 10 good reviews to make up for one bad one. The same goes for people and recommendations. In other words, if you make a great impression during an interview (even if you don't get the job) the interviewer may tell two people. But if you leave a horrible impression, he'll share it with the whole department and make you the topic of dinner party conversation with his family and friends. This is why it's important to be especially conscious of your behavior when you're interviewing and pay particular attention to how you treat people when you’re in the job market.
Maybe you had an interview that you thought went well, but you were rejected for the job. While it's perfectly acceptable to politely ask for feedback, your interviewer may or may not wish to justify the decision and explain why you weren't selected. Avoid the natural human response to disappointment by resisting the urge to be defensive or rude when you're turned down for a position. The right way to respond to a rejection is some variation of, “Thanks so much for the opportunity. If a future role opens up, I’d still love to be considered.” With a response like this, you’re taking the “high road” by showing your appreciation and still leaving the door open. If you’re not gracious and you respond in an aggressive, retaliatory, or inappropriate way, your interviewer instantly knows he made the right choice with the other candidate and then immediately tells his colleagues, friends, and professional acquaintances to avoid you. Don’t become the example of the quintessential bad interview experience by getting marked with a Scarlet Letter “A” for…well, use your imagination.
Remember the “Golden Rule.”
When you’re in the job market, you want to be especially conscious of how you treat everyone you encounter throughout the interview process. Hold doors for people, speak politely, and mind your manners. Think of everyone you meet as a potential employer or a connection to an employer. If you're dismissive or rude to the receptionist, she will likely speak up and share her interaction with you, making company leaders think twice about your candidacy. Everyone's heard the story of the guy who drove like a maniac to his interview and flipped someone off right before he turned into the parking lot of the building, only to find out that person was interviewing him.
Make it your job search goal to leave everyone you meet with a fantastic first impression. Rejection is inevitable, but if you handle it in the right way, it will often turn into another opportunity. The person who didn't hire you is probably well connected and can sing your praises or tell everyone they know to steer clear. Use every interaction to network and make strong professional relationships. Build a bridge instead of burning one.
Happy Job Hunting!
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