Who hasn’t experienced a painful rejection at least once? A woman (or a man) you like, and want to get closer to. You send her messages, you call her, and finally when you summon all your courage and invite her out, she refuses. Such thing can be incredibly painful. The more we care, the more it hurts. Some people bear with it so badly that the next time over they won’t even try to invite someone out. They are afraid of experiencing the same feelings again, the painful rejection…

As you can imagine though, hiring managers have on their mind another form of rejection. At least most of the time they do. Many employees sell something–in the store, on the phone, door to door, in business meetings. And all of them–there isn’t a single exception, will hear NO more often than YES. It is not uncommon to experience a long series of rejections on the job, for example when you work as a sales representative on the phone. And the interviewers wonder how you handle it, and whether you can get over it and continue with your job, regardless of all the bad words you hear on the phone. Because if you cannot handle rejection you will quit, and they do not want to hire such an employee.

Let’s have a look at 7 sample answers to this interesting interview question. I tried to look at it from different angles, which reflects in the variety of answers. Hopefully you will find yourself at least in one of them. Once you are done with the answers, do not forget to read also my conclusion and final tips at the end of the article.


7 sample answers to “How do you handle rejection?” interview question

  1. My recipe is extremely simple: I do not take it personally. People are saying NO to me, but in fact they aren’t rejecting me as a person, or even as a salesman. They are rejecting my offer. And that’s a fundamental difference in my view. They reject my offer but I can still make a good connection with them, I’ve practiced my sales talk. I’ve learned something, and overall I cannot consider the meeting unsuccessful. What’s more, if I make a good connection with them, they is always a possibility to close the deal later on, perhaps with a more fitting offer.
  2. I just stick to the following mantra: Every NO moves you one step closer to another YES. And I honestly believe it is true. Because if a product or service was so bad that nobody bought it, there would be no company, no sales representatives, no meetings. I actually cherish every NO, because I know I have to hear it a certain number of times to eventually close the deal. That’s how it works in every sales endeavor, and I am completely fine with that.
  3. This is my first job application, so I haven’t experienced rejection in work so far. But I’ve had my fair share of rejections in personal life. Does it stop me from continuing to try? It doesn’t! Look, if we aspire to achieve something in life, we will always experience hurdles on our road to the goal. And that’s exactly how I see it, and I am sure it will be the same at work. Without a doubt some people will reject my offer, some even won’t answer my call. But it simply belongs to this profession, and I am ready to go on, regardless of how many rejections I experience.
  4. My way of handling rejection consists in always thinking about the bigger picture. Let me explain. Statistically speaking, every sales representative will achieve certain success rate in a long run. It can be 20%, 10%, 5%, or even just 1%, depending on the form of sales and product you sell. And the number will be relatively consistent. What does it mean? That means, that for example from each ten meetings I will close two deals (20% success rate). And that’s the bigger picture I keep on my mind. If my goal is to close ten deals a month, I simply need fifty meetings. And it doesn’t matter if I close the first deal in my second meeting or in my nineteenth meeting. At the end of the day, in a long run I will have my success rate, and all the rejections are part of the process. That’s how I see it and it helps me a great deal to handle rejection.
  5. I see every rejection as an opportunity to improve my sales talk. When a client rejects me, I try to understand what I did wrong. Maybe the presentation I prepared wasn’t good enough. Or I wasn’t convincing in my talk. Perhaps I did a mistake in my research and picked a wrong lead, and from the start I did not have a chance to close the deal… I try to reflect on every rejection, learn from it, and improve for the next meeting with the client. They say for a reason that we learn the most in difficult times. Series of rejections–however difficult such an experience is emotionally, can be a beginning of a transformation and help us take our sales to next level. Of course, we want to sell and earn commissions and meet our goals. Nobody likes rejection, or many rejections in a row. But it helps to see both sides of the coin, and do not look at rejection as something purely negative.
  6. First of all, I know that first rejection typically isn’t the final verdict. When someone rejects our offer for the first time, it doesn’t mean that we should delete them from our contact list and block their number. As long as they fit our client profile we should try again. We can try different sales pitch, different offer, or perhaps change the medium of communication. I am not someone who gives up after first rejection… And secondly, if they eventually reject us anyway, we should simply accept it. We tried our best, we didn’t give up after the first NO, yet it didn’t work out. It is completely normal, because even the best salesman in the world won’t close every deal. Time to move on to the next client.
  7. Speaking honestly, I do not have much experience with rejection so far. I’ve just finished high school, and I’ve done well in both my education and relationships. But I am sure I will experience rejection in the future, both in job and outside of it, since I do not aim for mediocrity. And I feel mentally ready to handle it, because in my view, failure is an integral part of every success. It may sound strange but I am actually looking forward to it, because I believe it will make me mentally tougher.

* Special Tip: This isn’t the most difficult question you will face while interviewing for any decent sales job. You will face questions about prioritization, dealing with pressure, solving problems, and other tricky scenarios that happen in the workplace. If you want to make sure that you stand out with your answers and outclass your competitors, have a look at our Interview Success Package. Up to 10 premium answers to 50 tricky scenario based questions (+ more) will make your life much easier in the interviews. Thank you for checking it out!

Great things happen outside of our comfort zone

Obviously it isn’t easy for anyone to experience a harsh rejection–of whatever type, or a series of rejections (be it at work or in personal life). But you should also realize that the only people who never experience rejection or failure are people who never try anything outside of their comfort zone. And this is exactly the attitude you should present in your interview, regardless of the answer you choose from my selection.

You will experience rejection, because you want to try to achieve something great. You won’t call only clients with a high chance to close a deal. On the contrary, you will try with everyone, you will do cold calling, you will experiment, you won’t give up. Because you know that for every YES you must hear NO several times, and you also know that people do not reject you as a person. They reject your offer…

Ready to answer this one? I hope so! Do not forget to check 7 sample answers to other tricky interview questions:

Matthew Chulaw
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