How to Bounce Back From Rejection

Edit: I would like to clarify that I am sharing the knowledge I’ve learned from previous interview circumstances. This knowledge helped me achieve my current position which I LOVE and plan to be in for years and years to come 🙂

So, you did it. You went into the interview and gave your all. Maybe you feel really good or maybe you feel kind of meh. Either way, give yourself some credit for the time you took to prepare and the courage you had to put yourself out there! Interviewing is never an easy task.

After an interview, I suggest sending a follow-up, thank you email within 24 hours. Then, let things lie for a little. Traditionally, a school will try their best to get back to you within 3-5 days. If you hit that five day mark and have not heard anything, it can’t hurt to reach out and politely inquire about an updated timeline for when you might hear about the job. 

Ideally, you’ll get a call with a job offer or most traditionally, a meeting with the superintendent. These meetings are a good sign because they mean your school has already given you the seal of approval. Now, the superintendent is simply confirming that you are someone they want representing their district. 

The other side of things is that you might get a call saying, thank you, but we’ve gone in another direction. 

Rejection is hard, especially when you put everything you had into your interview. Especially when you felt like it went really well. With rejection comes the opportunity to really be honest with yourself. Did you prepare enough? Did you present yourself in the best way you could? Were you true and honest to who you are and what you stand for as an educator? 

If you can answer the three questions above with a big ‘ol YES, then there are a few other things to consider which might help boost you back up for the next interview you have. 

One: The job went internal. 

It’s a reality in education that teachers shift grades and subjects. Often, these shifts are sudden and jarring for the school. Ideally, they happen prior to the job being posted for interviews but this isn’t always the case. Sometimes, a teacher may come forward and request the position and even if you had a great interview, the job is no longer on the table. Most frequently, the school will be honest with you about this and sometimes, they’ll offer you to interview for another position or offer you a substitute/long term substitute position instead. This will feel discouraging, but truthfully, it feels a little better to know it wasn’t you. There is a lot that goes on behind the scenes in education that we never see. Give yourself a little grace and get ready for the next opportunity that arises. 

Two: The job went to a candidate known to the school. 

Similarly, if you are equally matched with another candidate and they have more of a presence in the school or district you’re applying for, they will likely be chosen over you. This is why I suggest making a name for yourself in the district where you like to work. Administrations often put a lot of stake in the people they know. They’ve proven they’re reliable and committed to the district. They’ve had opportunities longer than a thirty minute interview to show who they are as educators. They will succeed the majority of the time in securing the job. 

Three: The job went to a more qualified teacher. 

The final thing to consider is that someone might just have more experience than you. If you’re new to education, this will especially be the case. Keep trying- eventually a district will be excited to take a chance on a newbie. Until then, recognize that teachers move states and districts for many reasons. A fifteen year veteran teacher is a very appealing candidate. Most schools would feel silly not to hire them.

The theme in all three points above is this: you have no control over who you are up against in an interview. If the principal or panel comes back after an interview and tells you the job went to someone else but that you had a great interview, believe them! Utilize the perspective that this interview was a great opportunity for practice and move forward in a positive direction.

Looking for more? My full “Actionable Interview Guide for Teachers” is available on Teacher’s Pay Teacher’s. However, you can get it free for a limited time when you sign up for my email list! Start your educational career off on the right foot and start moving one step closer to your dream job.

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