The Best Job Rejection

I still remember the phone call 14 years later, so it clearly meant a lot to me.

In my final year of college in Singapore, I was selected to interview with Boston Consulting Group (BCG). BCG Singapore was known to be extremely selective - interviewing only a handful of people every year and hiring maybe 1 or 2. So the pressure was on and I spent every ounce of my energy in the next 1-2 weeks preparing for the interview. I also bought and borrowed some nice clothes and got a haircut to look presentable.

The interview day arrived. I was nervous but as prepared as I could be. I did okay, but I knew I hadn't really nailed it.

A couple of days later, I got a phone call. It was one of the partners who had interviewed me. He shared the bad news quickly - I didn't receive the job offer. He also explained that he was the dissenting partner, so he was calling to explain his decision. He talked through the case study (it was about a small airport trying to grow profitable), highlighted the parts I solved well, and what I had missed. I agreed with him and thanked him for the feedback. He ended on an encouraging note and wished me the best. I didn’t get the job, but I got closure and helpful feedback.

A partner at a top firm called a fresh college grad after interviews to explain his rejection decision - what an incredible standard for being empathetic, respectful, transparent, accountable, and helpful!

I have been through many interviews since, but this has never happened again. Companies worry about legal risks and efficiencies but forget the human effort and emotions. To be fair, candidates also do the same when deciding to accept a different offer or when leaving a company. We could all benefit from a more empathetic, respectful, and transparent interview etiquette.