Q: I was interviewed by a company in July of this year. I went back on three different dates for several interviews. The company said they had many candidates applying for this one role. I found out in August that I didn't get the job. I am crushed and angry. I spent so much time with this company and even shared some of my past work with them. What should I do about getting my work samples back?
A: From what you have shared, I think there may be two issues to address. Let's first start with your anger. It's normal to feel disappointed and angry if you don't receive a job offer, especially after you interviewed multiple times. You must have a been a final contender. However, you can't let your anger fester or you may bring those feelings with you to the next interview. No one wants to hire a hostile and bitter candidate. I have interviewed candidates who have trouble shaking feelings of resentment and it's not good. You can share and vent these feelings with your spouse, partner, friend, therapist, cat, dog or parakeet. But you shouldn't "let them out" during events like networking meetings or interviews.
Regarding your work samples, kudos to you for sharing them. By sharing them with a potential employer, you have demonstrated your skill and worth! You provided samples of what you can accomplish so the interviewer could better understand what you can offer. When sharing work samples, it's best to make high-quality copies in advance. You can leave the copies with the company and retain the originals. If you have only originals to share, taking them with you after the interview is probably prudent. If the company is still in possession of your work samples, I would suggest emailing a quick note asking them to be left at the reception desk if possible. Or if you are comfortable with the company mailing them, that might be another option.
On a related note, I have had clients reconsider "runner-ups" in the past. Ensure that all of your communication with this company is positive and professional. On more than one occasion, I have observed a client re-connecting with a candidate from a past search for a role (maybe even a different role) within the company. Burning bridges is rarely smart.