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How to handle rejection

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Sometimes, despite your best efforts, the decision made by the selection panel or interviewer is “no”. So how do you pick yourself up and carry on?

Everyone at some stage of their lives is not successful at what they are trying to achieve at the first attempt. Although this is extremely disappointing, the trick is not to run away and lie down in a dark room, but learn from the experience and move on.

Responses can vary from being highly emotional – crying and pleading with staff for another chance; blaming someone else for the rejection, and complaining that the process wasn’t fair and that someone else was treated differently to asking for feedback to reflecting on it and asking for direction about how to improve and looking forward to another chance.

The first two are understandable responses to disappointment and frustration, especially when the stakes are high – essentially “knee jerk” responses. What you’re aiming for is the third option.

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Ask for feedback. It may have been that you were overwhelmingly nervous and therefore unable to showcase your skills effectively, or the communication exercise that you took part in demonstrated that your interpersonal skills are not yet developed enough to withstand the demands of caring for patients.

If you get feedback, use it as a springboard to reflect on the day’s activities. Be honest about how you think you did, think about how to refine the areas that you didn’t do as well in, seek help in making them better and practise them.


This is an adapted extract from Get Into Nursing and Midwifery: A Guide to Application and Career Success by Sarah Snow, published by Pearson. To buy the book with 20% off go to

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