How Do You Handle Rejection?

by | Mar 8, 2020 | Interviewing

This edition features a Frequently Asked Question (FAQ) focused on an inquiry that is an absolute staple of any sales interview…”How Do You Handle Rejection?” This “almost” guarantee is true whether the position is outside sales or telemarketing. The question may also be asked in interviews for Customer Service, Public Relations and Collections. If you are interviewing for any of these positions, it is important that you know how to properly answer this question.

As we continue to review the most frequently asked questions in an interview, let’s explore tips for when you are asked, “How Do You Handle Rejection?”


Why Is It Asked?

• The Position Requires Self-Confidence – The type of positions we are discussing here require significant self-confidence. A person must believe that they are excellent at what they do. The attitude that the next sale is around the corner is paramount.

• The Position Requires Self-Direction – A typical sales position requires significant self-direction and little maintenance by a supervisor. A Sales Supervisor does not have the capacity to be navigating a salesperson through every sales call and providing support after each rejection.

• The Position Requires Self-Motivation – Positions where rejection frequently occurs are often incentive or commission based. How you handle rejection will provide the Interviewer with clues regarding your desire to be self-motivated. A person on commission must always feel that the next prospective customer will be a sale.

• Test Humility – The self-confidence needed for sales roles can also breed arrogance. This question helps test the fortitude of the Job Seeker while gauging their humility when they admit to receiving rejection.


How Should It Be Answered?

• Make It a Learning Experience – Express how, when rejection occurs, you determine the core reason and attempt to rectify this issue for the future. Explain how you attempt to learn from each situation and apply it towards the next similar situation. Stress how you have always treasured constructive feedback. Describe an example where you learned something about your product, price point, or service that propelled you to greater success.

• Make It a Motivator – Show how, in the past, you have overcome a rejection by moving forward. A great example would be if you have taken a rejection and later turned it into a sale for the company. Express the drive you have to do well and how rejection helps feed that desire.

• Stress the Numbers Game – The reality of sales is that contacts equal sales. If you are diligent enough to make a larger quantity of contacts, some will reject your offer. It is just part of the “numbers game”. Your goal is to always attempt to improve your ratio of successes to failures. Reference how “rejection” is just part of the profession and industry chosen. An unemotional “it is what it is” persona can often prove quite effective.


What Not To Do:

• Act Like You Have Never Been Rejected – Not only will you have zero credibility with the Interviewer, but you will also appear very arrogant. The Interviewer wants to know how you have handled rejection, so your failure to answer will be frustrating to him or her.

• Make It Personal – Any rejection at work is just that…”work related”. Don’t give the impression that you allow the rejection to weigh you down personally. A person should not take the rejection received at work home with them, therefore impacting their balance. Also, dwelling on rejection too long will impede a person from having their next success. Anything that helps to waver your confidence will negatively impact your ability to sell.

• Express Emotion – Similar to not making it personal, a Job Seeker should not describe how rejection upsets or intimidates them. When answering this question, stay positive with the Interviewer. Don’t describe how you have been “up all night”, or wondered when your next sale would happen.


The opportunity to display your self-confidence and reassure the Interviewer of your mental fortitude is a crucial period in your interview. You have the center stage and the attention of your Interviewer. Anticipate the question and prepare your answer ahead of the interview. Practice your response with friends and family so that you will have the confidence necessary in your answer. This is a great opportunity to sell yourself!

As always, best of luck in your job search.

The following has been prepared for the general information of WNYJobs readers. It is not meant to provide advice with respect to any specific legal or policy matter and should not be acted upon without verification by the reader.

Joe Stein
WNY Human Resources Professional

Feel free to contact Joe Stein regarding questions or comments at:
Joe Stein

Search Job Listings

Find a job with WNY Jobs

Article Navigation


Forgotten Password?