Job Rejections & Mental Health

AMentalHealthInterludeFor any of you who read my first installment on Mailbox Monday earlier in the week, you might remember me mentioning that I had a job interview coming up this week. As I currently work part-time, I have been taking a lot of time to think about moving into full-time work within my current organization. For someone with any kind of disability, such a transition can be a big step and it was definitely something that I had spent a lot of time thinking about. Would I be able to cope with working full-time due to fibromyalgia? Would we be able to make alternate arrangements for Achilles as I’m currently his primary carer? Would full-time work actually help improve my health rather than negatively affect it? Would both me and my partner work full-time or would he have to leave his job?

There were lots and lots of questions to consider. For some people applying for full-time jobs is just a run of the mill thing for them but there are lots of people who have lots of other things to factor into their decision such as a disability or care arrangements. And of course, there is also the what if of not getting the job. After all of that time spent carefully arranging things, sorting out your own thoughts and preparing yourself for actually starting full-time work, it can be easy to overlook the potential for a negative outcome. 

In the end, I did decide to apply for a full-time role for the job that I currently do as a part-time worker. I felt confident in my ability to do the job, supported by my colleagues and really looking forward to actually being able to get stuck into “normal” working life. Unfortunately, not only did I not get the job but my interviewers expressed “concerns” over some of my answers. During the phone conversation, I could barely hold it together enough to not break down on the phone or hang up so when I received my interview feedback I couldn’t even corral my brain or mouth into responding.

  • Both of the pieces of feedback were a misinterpretation of what I had said during the interview – as someone with anxiety I can’t always give well-thought-out answers on the spot even if I do know the answer to the question
  • I was told that there were candidates who were stronger than I was in the interview and who were more experienced than me in both aspects of the job (the job I already do)
  • The only positive piece of feedback I received was about my customer service skills rather than anything to do with my work with dogs
  • I was offered no other encouragement, no training plan going forward or encouraged to apply again for the role in the future when we’ve been able to get me some experience in the areas I wasn’t as strong in

Translation in my brain = not only are you not good enough to ever work full-time but you’re crap at the job you already do. And that also means that you’re a crap person who is useless, never going to get anywhere in life and should just give up and stop embaressing yourself. 

I already have very low self-esteem so to hear unconstructive criticism with no follow-up support is a sure fire way to absolutely shatter any confidence I’ve worked hard at building up. Following that phone call, I spent the entire day crying, hardly moving from my bed, not eating properly, unable to leave the house and having to play video games all evening just to try and slow down my thoughts from their very steep decline. I struggled with thoughts of suicide, self-harm, paranoia… ultimately, I turned the entire thing in on myself.

This is a very common reaction for people with mental illness’. Everything feels personal and every feeling is amplified. I know that it can difficult for employers when providing feedback post-interview to unsuccessful candidates but it’s soul destroying for disabled candidates to not receive any support when being given bad news. This is the third time now that I have been rejected for a full-time position in jobs where I do actually have enough experience to do the job but each time I am turned down based on “concerns” which are almost always related to my compassion, empathy, and honesty – all three of which are traits associated with my autism.

I know that there will be other opportunities in the future, that I did the best that I could have done and it’s not my fault that I didn’t get the job but I am having a very hard time recognizing these things right now. It would just be really great if I could actually find an employer who is fully committed to diversity and supporting disabled employees.

EST. 2015 (1)


15 thoughts on “Job Rejections & Mental Health

  1. It sounds to me like even with the negative feedback and low positive encouragement you still manage to keep fighting and hoping for better things.
    You have become stronger than you think.
    Congrats on that!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I am really sorry the full time position didn’t work out but I want you to know that you are NOT a crap person. I think it was brave of you to share that experience with us, as it couldn’t have been easy to live through it again, but as you said in the end, you WILL DEFINITELY find something that suits you better, it just sucks that that’s not right now.
    I have to say that I find phone interviews in general quite difficult, unless it’s just to get general infos, but that could just be me. Not to say that face to face interviews aren’t nerve-wrecking as well, but I personally find it easier for myself to read what the other person expects or wants to hear from me that way.
    Again, sorry it didn’t work out. I am rooting for you!!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh, Avery. I’m so sorry this happened to you. Although I don’t struggle with mental illness myself, you make it easier to understand what you’re going through in this post.

    The one thing that irks me the wrong way, always has and probably always will, is the lack of a support system outside of friends / family. There should also be one at work where you can fall back on, where they help you better yourself, do the necessary things to make employees able to reach their full potential. The fact that they didn’t give you any decent follow-up to maybe progress to a full-time job in the future is just proof that they also lack such a system.
    You’ll probably struggle with this for some time now, but just know that you’re not worthless, you aren’t. Focus on the better things in life, even though those may be hard to find right now. Try to pick up the pieces and, when you’re feeling up to it, try to get that follow-up yourself. You can only ask – although I realize that would probably be a big step for you to take but I believe you can do it and I’m sure I’m not alone.

    All the best. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m sorry to hear. 😦
    I think doing interviews is super stressful, for most people. But the general consensus is, the more you do it, the better you’ll be at it, because essentially they ask almost the same questions everywhere… i don’t know. Haven’t done many myself, and been at my current job for 8 years, mostly because like you said, there are many things to consider, and applying for jobs takes a crap load of time / effort, with not much benefit sometimes.

    Is this post interview feedback a common thing? I only had it 1x, when i applied internally (and was rejected), but it went similarly to yours. Like not only it wasn’t helpful, but was rather anxiety inducing…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve done quite a lot of interviews over the past few years and I’m really confident during the interview itself – its the aftermath that always makes me so anxious!

      This is the second time I’ve received feedback post-interview. This role was also an internal role, but the time before that was with a research company and I was one of the candidates who made it to the interview phase so they offered me feedback to help for future interviews. Sadly though it was really horrible feedback that ruined my confidence for ages and was all centered on things to do with my honesty, naivity, etc which are all things that I can’t do anything about :/

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh i see…
        I was talking to my boss the other day about honesty. It was slightly different topic, not interview, but we both agreed that we are not good at making stuff up, and he just said “sometimes you need to be creative with the truth”… 😀

        Liked by 1 person

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