No matter how experienced you are at them, there is no denying that interviews can be pretty nerve-wracking -nobody likes to be grilled for up to an hour at a time!
One of the positive things about interviews, however, is that each and every one of them has something to teach you – even if you are not successful in obtaining the position.
Asking for feedback is a key skill when you are job hunting and one that offers a huge number of benefits to both you and the business.
Table of Contents
- Why Ask For Feedback?
- How To Ask For Feedback
- Final Thoughts
Why Ask For Feedback?
Before we take a closer look at the best way to ask for feedback, it is worth considering why this is important, and the benefits that it can offer you. Asking for feedback offers you the following advantages:
It Helps You Understand Your Competition
The interview process allows your potential new employer to get to know you, assess your skills, and determine what sets you apart from the other candidates who are applying for the role – all information that cannot be obtained from your application alone.
This is all information that can be used to your advantage – when you request feedback, you can get a better understanding of the skills, qualifications, experience, or abilities that the successful candidate had.
What was the “special something” that set them apart and got them the role over you?
Once you have a better understanding of what sealed the deal for successful candidates, you will be able to tweak and adjust your own personal development.
Incorporating these skills into your recipe for success, framing your experience in a slightly different light, and having a stronger and more well-rounded understanding of the competition.
Preparation is key, and you can never have too much information on what went right for the successful applicant.
It Offers A Glimpse Into Recruiter Priorities
Sadly, none of us are mind readers, and it can be tricky to know just what the recruiter is looking for. In some cases, you may have studied the job descriptions, undertaken extensive research on the company.
And made sure that you hit every single job specification point – and you still come away empty-handed; in these cases, it appears that there is something that you missed.
By asking for feedback, you can shine a light on what this missing element is, and obtain valuable insight into what the recruiters were looking for, and how you just missed this.
Then, when you are applying for similar roles in your field, you will have a strong insight into what your recruiter and interviewer are actually asking you, where their priorities lie, and just what they are looking for, allowing you to hone your interview technique to hit these points.
It Highlights Your Strengths
When you are being interviewed, your recruiter will have noted your particular skills and areas of strength – and these can sometimes be areas that you had not previously considered.
When you ask for feedback, you will receive information about what went well, as well as constructive criticism to help you grow. This provides you with a handy, ready-made list of strengths that you can refer to in your next interview.
And ensures that you always have an answer to that tricky question: “what would you say your strengths are?”In this case, you will have received your answer directly from those in the industry.
It Boosts Personal Development
Interviews are stressful, and it is easy for your mind to go totally blank once you have left the room and are trying to analyze how things went.
By asking for feedback, you are obtaining a front-row view into the way that you come across during the interview process, and this can be very appealing.
Where you thought you were shy and awkward, your interviewer may have seen a driven and hardworking candidate, and where you thought that you answered questions clearly, the recruiter may have seen you waffling to fill the time.
When you see yourself from another perspective, you are in an ideal position to work on your interview technique, enhance your skills, and boost your personal development.
Remember, even feedback that may seem critical – for example, the observation that you waffle – is useful, as it helps you practice certain skills.
In this case, delivering precise, succinct answers. By constantly growing and responding to feedback, you are molding the “interview you” into the best version of yourself.
It Can Unlock New Opportunities
In some cases, you may not have been the ideal candidate for one position – but the perfect fit for another role in the same company.
When you follow up and ask for feedback, you are positioning yourself as a dedicated, keen employee, with a genuine interest in the company, and this can get you over the line when being considered for another role.
Asking for feedback also shows confidence in your ability, a willingness to learn and grow, and demonstrates that you have a lot of potential – all of which are valuable skills for businesses and employers.
When you reconnect with the employer, you are also taking a chance to expand your professional network – and your circle can never be too big!
Making a good impression here will cement you in the mind of the interviewer, and they are therefore more likely to recommend you for colleagues or suggest other positions that may be hiring.
It is also worth considering whether it would be appropriate to connect with them on LinkedIn – this helps you to maintain a positive, productive working relationship, and may give you access to a new opportunity in the future.
How To Ask For Feedback
Now that we have established the importance of asking for feedback, and the numerous benefits that this can have for your career, it is time to take a closer look at just how to go about this – there are a number of do’s and don’ts to consider.
Do: Thank Your Interviewer
When you are rejected, it is hard to remain gracious, but this is a key time to pull off your best acting and accept the rejection in a courteous and professional manner – you never know when your paths will cross with the interviewer again.
Take a chance to thank the interviewer for the time they have spent on you, and always remain professional, positive, and polite – this could work to your advantage if another position makes itself available.
Check that your tone is engaging and positive, no matter how disappointed you feel – the last thing you want is to burn bridges with the employer altogether, and risk missing out on a future opportunity.
Don’t: Demand Answers Straight Away
Remember that your interviewer is under no real obligation to provide you with feedback, so do not immediately jump in and start demanding this. Technically, they are doing you a considerable favor when they provide feedback, so stay polite, positive, and professional.
Frame the request for feedback as an attempt on your part to improve and enhance your professional development, rather than as a criticism of their decision to reject you.
The last thing you want is to infer that they have made a mistake, as this can be perceived as arrogant and pushy. Remain genuinely appreciative, and always thank them for their feedback.
Do: Explain How Their Feedback Can Help You
Everyone loves to feel useful, and you are more likely to receive useful feedback if your employer feels that they are helping you out.
Be clear about why you are asking for feedback – this can also help the interviewer to determine which type of feedback would be the most valuable and beneficial for you, and how they can help you to improve in the future.
Ask for advice and insight, and make it clear that you appreciate honesty – some interviewers are hesitant to give honest feedback if this is negative.
Don’t: Ask For Feedback Immediately Following An Email Rejection
If you are rejected over the phone, it is ok to ask for feedback following the announcement that you have not been given the role – make sure that you are prepared for this before you take the call.
If you are rejected by email, however, give yourself some time to construct a rational, calm, and professional response – resist the urge to immediately ask what you did wrong. Chances are, there was a candidate who was just a little more suitable.
Email is also usually the method of communication preferred by the business, depending on the size of the organization.
If the business is small and intimate, then asking there and then is usually ok; for a large organization with hundreds of employees, however, you are better off sending an email. This usually also leads to higher quality, more constructive feedback.
Do: Show Gratitude
As we have mentioned, interviewers are not obliged to offer feedback, and so gratitude is essential. Thank the interviewer for sharing their time and expertise with you, and picking a part of the experience that was particularly useful – this helps you to sound and feel more sincere.
The most important priority is to leave a positive impression – if another role comes up, you want to be the first person they think of.
Don’t: Harass HR
If you send a request for feedback and have not heard anything in a working week, it is ok to send a short, concise, polite follow-up to see if anyone has had a chance to take a look at your request.
If, however, you still don’t hear anything after this, it is best to let it go, as you are unlikely to receive any further insight.
Tempting as it may be, try to resist the urge to push for more information, or continue to harass the company for a reference – this is a great way to get yourself put on the “blocked” list!
Do: Remember To Proofread
One final important point is to always remember to proofread your communication and emails thoroughly – every email is a chance to make an impression on your interviewer, so triple-check to ensure that you are making the right one!
Being rejected from a job is never a fun experience, but learning how to take and use feedback is a valuable life skill.
When done correctly, this can help to expand your network of contacts, boost your personal growth and development, and help you to land your dream job in a future interview – all by taking a little interview feedback on board!