Numbers do not lie. Regardless of your education, experience, and motivation, the chances that you won’t get a job in an interview are always higher than the chances that you will. Unless you apply for some bizarre jobs nobody wants to do, of course, and you happen to be the only applicant for the position. But I am sure that’s not the case… Anyway, job interview is a competitive affair, and failure is an integral part of every success story. Hence you should not give up once they don’t hire you. Is that what the hiring managers want to hear from you though, once they ask you this strange question?

As it is often the case in job interviews, things aren’t as simple as they seem. Let’s have a look at 7 sample answers to the question. They should help you understand what the interviewers want to hear from you. I tried to include both conventional and unconventional answers on my list, since at the end of the day you may want to say something unique, something not every other person will say. Do not forget to read also the notes below the answers, to make sure you avoid making the same mistakes many people make when facing this question.


7 sample answers to “What will you do if we don’t hire you?” interview question

  1. If you do not choose me, first of all I will try to understand why. I really want to work for your organization, and hence it is important for me to look back, analyze the interview, think what I could do better. It can also happen that I will come to a conclusion that it simply wasn’t meant to be, that I misunderstood the job posting and wasn’t a good match for the position. In any case, once I understand what happened, I will try to improve on my interviewing skills, and do better next time, in my new interview with your organization–should I get one, or in an interview with another organization.
  2. I will just accept it as a fact. While I want to work for you, and like everything about your corporation–values, working environment, employee benefits, job description, I also understand this is a popular place, and many people apply for almost every job here. Of course I try my best, but I understand other people do the same. If you don’t hire me, it means that someone was a better match for the job, or they simply had a better day, and I have to move on. In my opinion, only a naive person thinks that they can succeed in every interview. Job search is a game of numbers and we have to learn to accept rejection and move on.
  3. I do not know, because I do not think about such an option. Honestly speaking, I am a firm believer in positive thinking, and in living in a moment. You become what you think about. And I think about success in this interview, and a great future in your company, helping you to achieve the most daring goals. That’s my plan A, and the only one I have at the moment. Can it fail? Perhaps it can. But only when it does will I think about my next steps… I did what I could to succeed in this interview and believe you will hire me. No need to think about other possibilities, until they realistically take place.
  4. I have four other interviewers coming up. If you do not hire me, I will try my chances in one of them. Do not understand me wrong though. Your corporation is my no. 1 choice, but at the same time I need a job to pay my bills and loans and everything. And I did not want to put all my eggs in one basket. Therefor I submitted job applications with more organizations, and out of the five I believe I will get at least one offer.
  5. If you do not hire me, I will continue trying to get a job with your company. I visit the careers section on your website regularly, scouting for new opportunities. And while I prefer to work in FP&A department, if it doesn’t work out I will try another department, or another location. You may wonder why, and I can tell you. I know two people working for this company and I talked a lot about your place with both of them. The things they told me about the working culture, the camaraderie in the workplace, the attitude of the managers, and about other things, motivate me to keep trying to get a job with you. I have the never-give-up attitude in life, and you can be sure I won’t give up easily.
  6. I will continue my job search. As simple as that. I know that I did my best to prepare for the interview, and if you decide to give the job to someone else, I can go to bed in the evening with a clear conscience. I did what I could, and it wasn’t enough. Sometimes we have to accept that some people have better experience, or manage to build a better connection with the hiring managers or whatever. They succeeded, we learned, and have to move on. That’s the reality of job search.
  7. I will be sad for you, for the opportunity you missed. If you do not hire me, maybe it means I did not have the best day, and you did not recognize the value I can bring to your team, what an amazing asset I can become for your team. It will be a pity for you, and a decision you will likely regret later. But that’s how it goes, people make mistakes, including the best hiring managers…


Whatever you say, they should get an impression that they are your first choice

As you can see on my list of sample answers, you have several options for a great answer, or for one that will make your interviewers think. These answers have one thing in common though. In each case you express–directly or indirectly, that you really want to work in their company, that they are your first choice, and not just another company on your long list of upcoming interviews. And that’s exactly one of the things they want to hear from you.

Failure belongs to life and having a plan B helps

You do not necessarily have to have plan B, C, and D, but it is better having at least some plan. If they do not hire you, you may try your luck another time (applying for another positions in their company), you may look elsewhere, and you may return to the drawing board, analyze what happened, and try to improve for the next time. All of these options and some are fine. Just make sure to have some plan B, and be ready to explain it in your interview.

Another important thing is to ensure them that you can deal with failure and rejection. Because you will face them in any job. In some cases it may be the no. 1 reason why they ask you this question. Inquiring how you will handle one particular form of failure and/or rejection, they actually wonder how you handle with rejection in general, and whether you are ready for a harsh reality of the job with them. Keep it on your mind, and ensure the interviewers that you can handle rejection…

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

Matthew Chulaw
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