Rejected, again?! How to understand job rejections & move forward

Job rejections are a normal and integral part of the job search, but they can seriously affect your morale. If you’ve applied for numerous jobs and received rejection after rejection, you might begin to question your self-worth. The truth is, rejection is completely NORMAL in the world of employment – and it’s actually super important in the long-term. Plus, most of the time, it’s not YOU, it’s THEM. At the end of the day, hiring managers are trying to find the absolute cream of the crop.

Currently, the UK employment rate is approximately 75.7%, which is actually on the rise compared to the previous few months. However, this percentage is still 0.8% lower than pre-pandemic levels (before February 2020). Alternatively, the UK unemployment rate is estimated at around 3.7%, which is 0.3% lower than pre-pandemic levels.

What is a job rejection?

A job rejection is something candidates receive when they’ve been unsuccessful in applying for a role. Rejections can come at any point in the application process, from the moment you apply, to the later interview stages. If you are rejected early on, you’re not likely to hear back from the hiring manager or receive an invitation to interview. Even if you happen to face rejection after interviewing, employers aren’t obligated to offer feedback – but they really should, it’s a shame that many recruiters and employers give next to no feedback. Most of the time you will only receive a basic rejection email or phone call – at Placing Faces we try to give as much in-depth feedback as possible.

10 job interview statistics to put things into perspective…

  • Only 2% of candidates who apply for a role are actually selected for interview 
  • On average, employers will interview 6 candidates for a position
  • There has been a 57% increase in the use of video-interviews from 2019-2022
  • Over half of all candidates are rejected at the first interview stage 
  • Most job interviews last between 30-45 minutes
  • The average amount of time between an interview and a candidate receiving feedback is 12 days
  • 4 in 10 employers would reject an applicant who showed no enthusiasm at interview 
  • The top reason for a rejection after interview is a ‘lack of understanding of the role’ 
  • In the UK, a job advert receives an average of 25 applicants
  • Only 5% of candidates are invited to interview within one week of applying

10 common reasons for an application rejection:

In the shortlisting stages of the application process, rejections will be made primarily due to a lack of experience or skills related to the vacant position. Later in the process, a rejection is more likely to be influenced by external factors, such as the number of applicants and breadth of their experience.

  1. Someone else was simply more suitable for the job
  2. Your skills weren’t in line with the requirements of the role
  3. Your experience was limited in essential areas
  4. There were multiple candidates applying for the same role
  5. You were unable to follow instructions
  6. You were overly confident or too shy
  7. The employer felt you hadn’t researched the company well enough
  8. You weren’t honest about your previous role 
  9. You didn’t abide by the company dress code
  10. First impressions were affected by lateness, etc

Feeling super deflated by the job search process? Keep reading for 10 vital steps to take, that will help you get your job-search mo-jo back! We’ll show you how to use information from your previous interviews to your advantage.Feeling super deflated by the job search process? Keep reading for 10 vital steps to take, that will help you get your job-search mo-jo back! We’ll show you how to use information from your previous interviews to your advantage.

10 steps to take when handling a job rejection

Feel the feels and crack on

Okay so, as we said, it is completely normal to experience rejection and for this to feel super disappointing. Whether it’s your first job rejection or your tenth, allow yourself these feelings and then move forward. Recognizing your emotions is an important skill and can help you move through the hiring process more smoothly in the future. Take a moment, allow yourself time to process your emotion and then cast it aside. Move out of a negative emotional space and realign yourself with your career goals to reignite your mindset. Remember, when one door closes another door opens!

Stay objective 

    Ultimately, the hiring manager will select the candidate they feel is most suited to the vacancy. While it can feel really personal at the time, the decision is purely a professional one. If you gave it your best shot, you did everything you could. So don’t throw in the towel – everything happens for a reason. 

    Remember the positives

      Getting rejected = a negative emotion. For the majority of people, negative emotions stick with us more than positive ones. Our brains are wired to recall challenging experiences so we can use them to avoid future issues. What a useful but annoying evolutionary skill! To get over this, try and keep the positive aspects of your current situation at the forefront of your mind. Actively focus on these over the negative emotions, and your job search will thrive going forward.

        Review your feedback (if you have any)

        Sometimes, a company will give you feedback on your interview. This might be over the phone or via email. Instead of internalising the rejection, use the information to optimise your CV and adapt for your next interview.

          Ask for feedback

          Unfortunately, it’s common to not receive any feedback along with a rejection (simply due to time constraints for businesses). This can be infuriating, especially since we spend time prepping for these interviews and giving our time to these companies. If you feel you would benefit from understanding why you weren’t successful this time round – ASK! The hiring manager will likely be happy to offer feedback if you request it.

          Itemise your strengths

            If your rejection leaves you deflated or feeling unworthy of your ideal job, make a list of all your strengths. Read through them. Read them again. If you received feedback, mark the skills that your interviewer praised you for. Put any areas where you feel you could improve next time into a list. Use this to understand where you’re excelling and areas you could build on next time.

            Reflect on the interview

              Note down questions you felt you answered well, plus those you felt underprepared for. It can be useful to recall phrases you might have used that worked well, perhaps ones the interviewer responded to with interest. Now you have a cheat sheet for the next time you walk into that interview.

              Focus on normality

                After receiving rejection upon rejection, it can be difficult to not fall into the trap of ‘I’m NEVER going to find a job’. Try to remind yourself of the fact that everyone will have heard a ‘no’ at least once in their professional lives. Getting rejected is far from an accurate representation of your capability in the workplace. 

                  Avoid over-analysing

                  Obviously, reflection is important for personal growth. Spend some time absorbing any feedback you receive, but don’t let overthinking consume you. Instead of dwelling on the past, move forward and get applying for more roles! Too much dwelling on one rejection can take valuable time away from your job search. 

                  Have a plan

                    Always have a contingency plan, in case you find yourself in a rejection situation. That job you tried so hard to secure might not have been all you cracked it up to be! Don’t give up your search, even if you think you’ve found your dream job. Actively seeking out employment options until you actually accept an offer will give you control and autonomy over the job search.

                      So, there we go. Hopefully this article has helped you come to terms with any job rejections you may have had in the past, or prepare you for any future rejections. Remember, when one door closes, another door opens – you never know, maybe that rejection will pave the way to landing your dream job!

                      To view a range of roles we’re currently hiring for, please visit the following link to our jobs page!

                      Fancy working with us? We’d love to hear from you! Details about what we do and how to get in touch can be found via the link below:


                      Standout CV

                      Office for National Statistics