Karen Bolda: Trials of job hunting
First remember that a "no" is not a reflection on your skills, your personality, or even your interview abilities. Perhaps they didn't select you because they already had someone in mind (this is very common). However, you do want to try and find out if there was something you could do differently in your future interviews so you can get to a "yes."
I know that the first thing you want to do after having your bubble burst is to hang up and eat some chocolate (well, at least that's what I do), but you should ask "could I get some feedback on my interview?" You should ask this in a very non-threatening way and convince the person you are asking for feedback that you will NOT use this opportunity to complain about them not hiring you.
An example of how to ask is "I would love to get some feedback on my interview so I know what to improve on. Is there a time we could spend five minutes to review my interview?" You should only take about five minutes of their time getting feedback. That is all it will take to get a general idea of why you weren't hired, and anything longer turns it into an imposition.
Your job is to just listen. Do not defend yourself with comments such as "I was really nervous," or "I was getting a cold." If you don't interrupt and they are reassured that you really are wanting some constructive feedback, you are more likely to get some really valuable information.
One workshop attendee got feedback that he didn't seem that enthused about the job. In reality, he wanted that job so badly he was worried they would perceive him as desperate. However, after hearing the feedback, he realized that it would have been better to let some of his excitement show instead of pretending that this interview was one of many.
It is important to exit the conversation about your interview as soon as it is done. After they have given you feedback, say, "thank you," and hang up before your nervous energy causes you to try to defend yourself or do something worse.
It is very likely that the same company that didn't hire you this time will have a job opening in the future that you will once again want to apply for. Your professional way of handling rejection and asking for constructive feedback will be remembered; so you will already be one step ahead the second time around.
Karen Bolda, M.A., is a meeting facilitator and professional development trainer. She's lived in Ashland for 13 years where she operates her own consulting business. Visit her Web site at www.karenbolda.com or contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Karen's workbook "Ace the Interview" is now available for purchase at www.karenbolda.com.