How To Overcome The Need For Closure

Do you see a connection?

Do you see a connection?

This isn’t the first time that the subject of closure has come up on the JCSI CareerAssist blog.  In a previous post entitled Handling Non-acceptance, we told candidates not to focus on the things that they cannot change.  Sometimes you will not know why you were not chosen for a specific position and you will need to rely on assumptions to move forward.  Then in Managing Your Emotional Investments In a Job Search, we encouraged our readers to keep interviews in perspective.  Being attached to every opportunity can be mentally and emotionally draining and can rob you of a true opportunity when it comes around.

In this post, we are going to assume that the advice in the above mentioned posts didn’t quite stick.  Intellectually you understand that rejection isn’t personal.  You can even see how the concept of leaving the interview at the interview would reduce some stress.  But at the end of the day you still find yourself waiting by the phone to hear back from a potential employer unable to breathe until they let you know one way or the other.  If this sounds like you or someone you know, then read on.

In order to make sense out of the need for closure, it may help to know that our brains are actually wired to see relationships holistically.  As the shapes above show, we tend to see things in wholes instead of individual parts.  Most people would describe the shapes as a circle and a square with missing pieces  rather than a bunch of disconnected lines.  This is known as Gestalt Psychology.

Translated to the job search, this means that when we speak to someone about an opportunity we are going to automatically expect it to come “full circle”–pun intended.  When it doesn’t, our brains tell us that something is missing and this is considered a psychological threat.  What happens in many cases is that we assume that we have somehow caused the “missing” piece by lacking in some way.

In order to overcome this, we must be able to see the stages of recruitment as “whole-parts”.  Based on the Whole Part Whole (WPW) Method used in some sports training  and other modalities, the participant is trained to see that each component is a whole within itself.  An example from basketball would be that while the ability to shoot free throws are a part of a game, the ability to shoot free throws is also a skill on its own.  In other words, an interview is part of getting a job, but it is also just an interview.

If you are following this logic, then you can see how “leaving the interview at the interview” is possible.  This is accomplished by:

  • Seeing the whole.  The big picture.  In other words finding a job. 
  • Gaining an understanding of how the parts relate to the whole. These are considered “whole-parts”. Phone Screens, phone interviews, f2f interviews (how many rounds?), etc.  Ask your recruiter for more information.
  • Focus on developing your skills in each “whole-part”. Phone presence, f2f interview skills, follow-up skills, etc.
  • Approach each “whole-part” as a singular event.  An interview serves its purpose in real time without being seen as making or breaking the opportunity.  The goal is to have an excellent interview experience.
  • When reviewing the event, keep it in perspective.  Don’t think how you can stop losing opportunities. Concentrate on developing your “whole-part” skills.
  • Realize that it all comes together in the end.  If you excel in your “whole-part” skills then the whole picture will eventually come together.

As you can see, overcoming the need for closure is more about what not to do than it is about doing  some technique.  The key is to keep the “whole-parts” in perspective.  By seeing the “Whole-Part Whole”, closure is integrated into the process as it moves step by step.  Seeing the process this way reduces stress by releasing candidates from carrying the burden of their entire futures into every recruitment engagement.


5 Responses to “How To Overcome The Need For Closure”

  1. shawnclarkwilt Says:

    Thanks for the insight. In the beginning of my job search when I was laid off 20 months ago, I would analyze my final interviews to try and come up with a reason why I did not get the job. It would be between me and one other candidate for a middle management position. I would always be the “B” candidate.
    After about the 10th interview I stopped analyzing and started accepting the things in my control and disregarding those not in my control. Now after applying for 63 jobs and still no employment even with interviews I use the above break-down of logic almost daily.

    I’ve also started a blog to help other people in the same unemployed position as I am it might be an additional resource for your readers as well.

    • Shawn,

      It’s been our observation that the hardest part for people on the job market is putting the whole process into perspective. As you have demonstrated, it is very possible to be empowered by every interview regardless of the outcome. You learn more about yourself as you go out and seek opportunities to deliver value to an organization. Once you start sharing what you have learned like you are doing with your blog, it opens new doors to discover what you have to offer. Best of luck.

  2. Vickie Rockino Says:

    I enjoyed this blog because it is so true to life. I need to seek closure instead of analyzing everything.

    Thank you for this relevant information. I am excited about learning from this one as well as future blogs. Vickie Rockino

    • Vickie, we are glad that this posting was helpful to you. The goal of this blog and other JCSI CareerAssist content is to deliver insight to candidates on and off the job market that will assist them in putting their best foot forward in every engagement.

  3. Laura Gargolinski Says:

    I interviewed for an entry-level job 1 year ago. It was down to me and another candidate and I didn’t get the job. No call back, no thank you but “no thank you” email…nothing. It still bothers me to this day, wondering what I could have done or what I shouldn’t have done to turn the tables. After reading this post, it put things into perspective moreso than any other way I thought of the situation.
    Thanks for the great insight

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