Graduate job interviews: How to deal with interview rejection

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Are you struggling to get back on the job hunt after an interview rejection?

Or perhaps you have an interview coming up and need some tips on preparing for the big day?

Interview rejection can be disappointing but it can also give you some great experience and an idea of what you can improve for future graduate job interviews.

In this blog, we will discuss how to handle interview rejection, how to respond to a job rejection email, and how to stay motivated in your job search.

If you’d like to write for our student and graduate blog programme and gain valuable copywriting experience, get in touch below. 


There are many common reasons why graduates are unsuccessful in interviews.

You may have filled in a great application but never made it past the screening call.

Or perhaps you breezed your way to the final round only to be told, “We regret to inform you that you were unsuccessful on this occasion. We appreciate your interest in the company and the time taken to complete your application.”

Interview rejection can be disheartening.

It’s important to keep your head held high and try not to take things too personally, as rejection is something that we all face.

That being said, you should never overlook the chance to learn and develop.

Here is some advice on how to prepare for graduate job interviews and some helpful tips for dealing with rejection proactively.

How to prepare for an interview

Be positive – When commenting on previous experiences, it’s not a good idea to speak badly of your former colleagues or criticise the company’s direction, as this only puts recruiters off.

It would help if you reflected on past instances in a pragmatic and upbeat way by focusing on the steps you took to learn from challenging situations.


Relax – If you’ve reached the interview stage, it means that the hiring team likes what they see.

The prospect of working for a large organisation can be daunting, especially once the nerves set in and imposter syndrome takes hold, but thorough preparation can make all the difference.

When preparing for your next interview, note down the most crucial skills listed in the job description and think of some examples of where you have demonstrated that quality in the past.


The STAR (Situation, Task, Action, Result) method is excellent for structuring concise examples, as it allows you to highlight the particular skills and qualities relevant to the position.

Don’t be afraid to get creative with this method too!

Consider other ways your skills have been applied, such as university projects or volunteering days.

How to research a company before an interview

Go the extra mile – “What do you know about the company?“: a question that is pretty much guaranteed, yet one of the most common reasons why people fail interviews.

Research isn’t just about understanding what the organisation does, either. Getting to grips with their products, services, and values will allow you to gauge if they are the right fit for you.

Finding information on the ins and outs of the company, whether you’re using their about us page or looking through their social media, shows the employer that you are actually interested in their business.

How to deal with interview rejection

The reason that your interview was unsuccessful may have nothing to do with you, and there are a number of reasons why you weren’t selected that are completely out of your control, such as:


  • Restructuring internally – The organisation may have decided to hire internally instead and cancel the position but don’t tell you.
  • Pre-decided applicant – the vacancy could have been pre-decided but company policy meant that they were still required to post it.
  • Major incident – maybe they needed to deal with a major incident, such as a lawsuit or dispute, which took priority over hiring new candidates.


Remembering these factors can stop you from thinking negatively about your performance in the interview and help you to stay resilient in your job search.

Next Steps


How to respond to a job rejection email

The majority of Graduate Recruiters will contact you by email if you’re unsuccessful.

While you’re not obliged to respond, doing so will make you stand out as a highly professional, mature and respectful person, and could potentially land you the job.

Remember that the hiring process doesn’t always run smoothly, and sometimes things don’t work out with new recruits.

The company may also have a new vacancy for which they think you’d be a good fit. When this happens, it’s much easier for the company to reach out to previously interviewed candidates rather than starting the process over again.


Keep it short and sweet – If you receive a rejection email, you should keep it short but polite, but ensure to include these things:


  • Express your gratitude
  •  Mention your disappointment
  • Reiterate your interest
  • Ask for feedback and to be considered for future opportunities


Here’s an example:


Subject line: [Job title] – [your name]


Dear [recruiter’s name],


Thanks for letting me know the outcome of my interview.


While I’m disappointed that I was unsuccessful on this occasion, it was great to learn more about the role, and the work [company name] does.


Suppose you would be willing to offer some additional feedback. In that case, I would very much appreciate it, as it will allow me to improve my interview skills.


If there is another role you feel would be a better fit for my skills and experience, I would be interested in applying. Similarly, I would be grateful if you could keep me in mind for future opportunities.


I wish you and [company name] all the best.


Kind regards,


[Your name]

How to improve employability skills

Considering these tips, note down the potential reasons why you weren’t selected.

Perhaps you had the right skills and experience but didn’t convey your examples in a compelling and convincing way.

Or maybe you performed well but lacked the industry-specific experience they were after.

In that case, spend some time looking at the learning and development options available that will enhance your skills, ultimately boosting your employability.

Regardless of which area you want to work on, being honest with yourself is key to getting the most out of this.

It is also essential that your expectations are realistic and that you take your emotions out of the equation.

Where can you get help with interview rejection?

A problem shared is most definitely a problem halved; that’s where Give A Grad A Go comes in.

Suppose you’re noticing a pattern of rejected applications or unsuccessful interviews. In that case, their friendly recruitment consultants at GAGAGO can help you identify these weaknesses.

How to stay positive after job rejection

The time you’ve taken to reflect clearly demonstrates your willingness to learn and succeed.

Remember, you have the determination and resilience to embark on your next step. Allow those emotions to fuel your confidence and have faith that something better for you is out there.

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