How To Get Post-Interview Feedback When You Didn't Get The Job
Every step in the process of finding employment can be valuable to a job-seeker. Writing and updating your resume allows you to reflect on your career. The search lets you review your options, analyze different opportunities and envision yourself working in a variety of roles and organizations. The application process can provide insight into the job and company to which you are applying. At the end of the day, the interview is the culmination of the whole process. The candidate has a lot of control up until that point when you are sitting with strangers fielding those hard-hitting questions.
Recognizing that most of us are going to interview without getting selected many more times than being selected, the focus should turn to deriving some value from the experience when it doesn't end in a job offer. It can never hurt to seek out advice or someone else's perspective on your candidacy. As disappointing as it can be to not get the job, it is no time to rest. In fact, seeking out feedback after an interview where you weren't hired could lead to more connections and better results the next go-around.
Understand the Process
The first step in getting useful feedback after you didn't get a job offer is to understand the employment process. The main thing that many candidates do not know or recognize is that most selection processes are competitive. You didn't get picked, you're disappointed, but you probably have no idea how many people applied for the job, nor do you know how you stacked up against that competition.
Moral victories aren't for everyone, but getting an interview is usually something positive to build upon because there were probably many more people who didn't get an interview. This also means that managers didn't necessarily dislike you as a candidate. They wouldn't waste their time selecting you for an interview if they did not see something of value. They may have thought you were great, there was just someone even better. For those that have hired a lot of people, they know that they tend to miss out on a lot of great candidates.
Talk to HR
Many organizations are going to have someone from human resources participating in the interview process. This person could be a recruiter or a generalist, but they often bring something much different than the other people involved in hiring. HR professionals tend to have the benefit of interacting with the entire organization. They can understand the culture of different departments and divisions, and even possess insight into the needs of those different areas.
Reaching out to an HR professional for feedback will give you that person's insight. You may be surprised at how much someone from HR will understand the needs of the operational side of the business, but oftentimes the value is found in the fact that many of them interview for a living and can view you as a candidate with a more global perspective.
Contact the Hiring Manager
The hiring manager may bring a different and more narrow perspective on your interview. He was probably thinking about you for that job, or perhaps another job in his purview. The hiring manager is usually going to have more to say about the technical side of the position and your candidacy. Between HR and the operational side, you can learn a lot about how you are perceived and what the organization is looking for.
Making the Approach
Regardless of who you are reaching out to for feedback, the same rules are going to apply.
- Be passionate and eager to improve. People want to help those that are positive and proactive about helping themselves. If you are a down-in-the-dumps candidate beaten down by rejection and that comes through, you may get some sympathy with your feedback, but people are more inclined to help those that are understanding and helping themselves. If you are energetic and insightful when you ask for feedback, you'll get the information you are looking for, plus make some fans along the way.
- You probably got the interviewers' contact information at some point during the selection process and you may have even dropped them a note or email after the interview (always a good touch if you are excited about the job). If you find out you didn't get the job, no need to reply to the "Thanks, but no thanks" email. A day or two later, reach back out to your contact(s) by phone or email. Explain that you understand they went with another candidate but you wanted to pick their brains about what you could have done, or do in the future, to improve your candidacy. Remember, you may have gone up against the Michael Jordan of your profession; you just don't know.
- Use the opportunity to find out if your perceived strengths and weaknesses are consistent with what they thought. This can help you focus on what hiring managers are looking for and save you from spending time in areas you already have covered.
- Consider talking about your career goals and get their input on what education, skills, competencies and education they think will be valuable to helping you get to where you want to go.
If someone takes time out of their schedule to provide you post-interview feedback, it is probably because they want to help you succeed. If you have a rapport with the person, they may end up being a mentor figure to you. You also never know when they may have a job opening and you will be the top candidate. Interviews are great opportunities for hiring managers to see talent, even talent they don't hire that talent at that moment. Sometimes you're not the fit for one job, but you would be great for another. Keep those lines of communication open, keep learning and keep doing things to improve your value as a candidate by being proactive about getting post-interview feedback.
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