Accepting Rejection

No matter how you spin it, gift wrap it, or sugar coat it–rejection hurts and it’s sometimes a hard pill to swallow. Last week I received an email from a student who interviewed with me and unfortunately was not moved forward in the selection process.

In her message, she thanked me for both my time and the interview.  She concluded by asking if I could offer any feedback on what she could have said or done differently.  Although her tone was polite and the message was gracious, I knew that behind those words was one word, one question, “why?”

This is the time when students across the country are interviewing for internships and career opportunities. Some will be selected by the company of their choice, others will have multiple offers, and many will feel the sting of receiving an email informing them that the company they chose did not choose them.

I believe we all have been on the receiving end of a rejection letter or phone call and in an effort to soften that blow and perhaps assuage my own guilt of being the person some will see as the “face” of their rejection letter, please allow me to offer the following:

Don’t Take It Personally

A company’s decision to not select you shouldn’t change your self-worth or self-image. You are just as accomplished, talented, and wonderful as you believed you were prior to receiving their decision.  Not being selected doesn’t change who you are at your core or the opinion of those who truly matter in your life.  Those who love you will continue to passionately believe you are a superstar!

Yes, We Did Have Chemistry

Perhaps you’ll replay in your mind your interview.  You may analyze every word you said, every word the recruiter said, and every smile or nod of agreement you observed from them and took as a positive sign.  I will affirm that yes, during the interview, your recruiter definitely saw potential.

I meet so many talented students, students that are already entrepreneurs, have formed non-profit organizations, or saw a need in their community and rushed to fill it. I am always impressed by these accomplishments, awestruck by those academic achievers with outstanding grade point averages, and I thoroughly enjoy the opportunity to meet every one of those individuals.

I genuinely like so many students, but my liking them doesn’t mean that they’re the best fit or the best candidate for the organization I represent. Sometimes that’s a hard truth to come to terms with.

Perhaps You Didn’t Hear Me

Typically my peers and I will host an information session prior to scheduling interviews.  During the information session we explain the culture of our company, the opportunities available, application requirements, compensation, and most importantly we take the time to answer any questions.  Most companies offer these types of information sessions and I highly encourage students to attend if their prospective company does so.

When you are pondering the reasons why you weren’t selected, think about the information given during the interview or information session.  Sometimes the explanation and direction given during the interview is overlooked and may be one of the key reasons someone isn’t selected.

Example: At one of the schools I visited recently, I encouraged the interested students to be more geographically open and to keep in mind that there was only one position available in the major city closest to their university.  Surprisingly 3/4 of the students I interviewed while I was there requested that one location, ultimately competing with each other in addition to any other student applicants for that one location.

I encourage you to think about the information your recruiter provided and if perhaps you may have unintentionally disqualified yourself by requesting a limited location, proceeding with the application/interview even though you didn’t meet the company’s requirements (grade point average, major, etc) or by not recognizing that your career aspirations don’t align with the company’s offered opportunities.

Not Everyone Gets a Ribbon

Lastly, in a perfect world, every applicant would get an offer; but rejection sometimes is a numbers game.  Ultimately companies have only so many opportunities and often there are more candidates than there are positions. This goes back to my first piece of advice to not take the rejection personally.  Instead recognize that industry circles are often very small and just because a recruiter didn’t select you this time around, doesn’t mean that your paths won’t cross again or that you’re not in the forefront of their mind should you be the right fit for a future opportunity.


Ronisha is one of Hyatt’s College Recruiting Managers.  Hyatt’s College Recruiters visit more than 30 college campuses each year recruiting top talent at hospitality programs across the country.  A graduate of The Ohio State University, Ronisha begin her Hyatt career as a Human Resources Corporate Management Trainee.  During her ten years with Hyatt, she has worked at Hyatt Hotels in Orlando, Maryland, Virginia and New Jersey.  To learn more about opportunities with Hyatt please visit, follow Hyatt on twitter @hyattcareers, become a Hyatt Facebook fan at Hyatt Hotels and Resorts Careers and follow the Campus Recruiter blog at

Related posts:

  1. Job Rejection…..Until We Meet Again
  2. Is it Rejection or Just Bad Manners?
  3. Rejection – It’s Not Personal

One Response to “Accepting Rejection”

  1. avatar Lew Sauder says:

    As one who has been on both sides of the interview desk, I can relate to the frustration of feeling qualified and interviewing well, only to get the rejection; as well as interviewing 5 people for a position and finding 3 excellent candidates for 1 open position. It’s definitely not personal. It usually comes down to how closely the candidate matches the requirements and going with your imperfect gut.
    Lew Sauder, Author, Consulting 101: 101 Tips For Success in Consulting (

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