if at first you don’t succeed

if at first you don’t succeed

So I’d finally landed it, an interview in the television and entertainment industry. This was my fourth stab at trying to get on with this company, and I finally got a call back.

“Why do you want to work here?” the department manager asked, once the interview was rolling.

I had that answer prepared and knew it was a risk, but it was the truth: “Currently I’m working in the financial industry, and I feel like a foreign exchange student who is ready to come home. I’m grateful for all I’ve learned and the people I’ve met, but it’s not where I’m supposed to be, and I really want to be back in television and entertainment where I can offer the best of my skills and experience.”

The co-manager said, “How cool.”

The department manager said nothing. I couldn’t tell how she felt about my response for two reasons: we were on Zoom and I didn’t have my readers on. (I figured the younger I looked, the better, hence no readers.) But her exuberance was underwhelming.

So the questions kept coming, and I did well on all of them except one. I should have asked for a do-over. Can we do that? Ask for do-overs in interviews? 

But near the close of the interview, when I’d asked about next steps, the department manager answered snippily, “We just started the interviewing process. It will be awhile.”


I knew then she didn’t like me. I withdrew within myself, put on a brave smile, disguising my disappointment, and thanked them for the interview.

Of course I felt shitty for the next week. Of course it messed with my confidence and I second guessed my foreign exchange student answer. I picked apart every other answer I gave, too, and made note of what I could have done better— namely, I could have asked better questions at the end, before asking about next steps.

But the truth is, if the department manager didn’t like me in the interview, she wasn’t gonna like me later. Because I showed up authentically and professionally. Or maybe my answers related to the industry were more dated than I realized… after being out of the industry for years. I don’t think so, though; I think it was a matter of dislike, plain n’ simple. But also, I learned that it’s just too risky to ask, “When I can expect to hear about next steps?” or something else to that nature… that’s really what irritated the manager the most.

So what do we do, how do we bounce back?

We just do.

That simple.

What other choice do we have? Yes, contemplation, insecurity, and regret are natural. Feeling stupid for showing up as yourself and not being chosen isn’t uncommon. But it’s all part of the job hunting experience. And the sooner we cast off the negative feelings and move on, the better off we are. 

I’m took a moment and wrote down notes on questions I could have answered a bit better, because even after sending out thank you emails, I never heard a peep.

This article is a quick but necessary read to help you pick yourself up and keep going. The author identifes 4 steps for bouncing back, and I can say I implemented them quite a bit while I was job hunting for a year and a half.

Rejection stings, no doubt about it. But we have what it takes to bounce back.

Read the article for the four steps and keep at it!