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Husnara Begum, owner & careers consultant

Successfully breaking into the legal profession can be a challenge for even the most capable candidates. The simple truth is that almost every aspiring solicitor is likely to get at least one or two knock-backs when applying for vacation schemes, training contracts, paralegal roles, and other forms of qualifying work experience.

Receiving that dreaded rejection email or phone call can be an unpleasant experience that leaves you feeling dejected and disheartened. Indeed, I have vivid memories of bawling my eyes out after getting my first snub for a vacation scheme interview. As a high achieving student who always got what I wanted it was very bitter pill to swallow. I felt like a failure on an epic scale.

No matter how hard, it’s important to get back on the horse as quickly as possible. Especially, because allowing a rejection to shatter your confidence is likely to adversely impact your performance at future interviews and result in further setbacks. And bang, before you know you’re stuck in a vicious cycle that’s almost impossible to crack.

The key is to use every unsuccessful interview as a learning opportunity and to make relevant adjustments to break the deadlock as soon as possible.

If a rejection email does make its way into your inbox below are a few simple pointers to help you quickly bounce back and help you remain positive, optimistic and motivated.

  1. Don’t take it personally and gain perspective. Some jobs just aren’t meant to be, and no matter how hard you try there are certain factors that are simply beyond your control. This might include a strong internal candidate who is already known to the employer or an external candidate who has marginally more relevant experience than you. What’s more, you may have even dodged a bullet.
  2. When it comes to an unsuccessful job interview, asking for feedback is a given. The difficulty, however, is the amount of detail hiring organisations go into when explaining their decision can be patchy at best. Therefore, it’s just as important for you to spend time self-reflecting on how you thought the interview went. Indeed, it’s great practice after every interview to keep detailed notes of what was covered and how you performed, including any potential room for improvement such as tweaking answers when attending potential future interviews.
  3. Ask a family member, friend, or close contact for their honest evaluation of your interview style as well. The key is here to determine what’s holding you back? The content of your answers or your delivery? Both can be sharpened with more preparation and practice.
  4. Make relevant adjustments to address the issues highlighted in your own self-assessment as well as any other feedback you’ve received. Often the reason for not being able to convert an interview into a job offer is either a lack of preparation or over-preparation with the latter resulting in your answers coming across as forced or robotic.
  5. Be realistic, manage your own expectations and consider re-setting your definition of success. As I’ve already highlighted above, the legal profession is a tough nut to crack. Be patient and avoid being too harsh on yourself. Some candidates, need to make two cycles of applications before bagging that much sought-after offer.

Banishing negative thought patterns

A string of back-to-back rejections can risk some candidates dramatising or overstating how bad their situation actually is. Unless, appropriately managed, such a negative thought can turn into an unhelpful thinking pattern, which in turn can hold you back from reaching your full potential. For tips on how to banish negative thought patterns check out this previous blog. Alternatively, why not have a go at an affirmations exercise?