Asking for Feedback After a Failed Job Interview

Posted by The Editors on September 29, 2011
Asking for Feedback After a Failed Job Interview

One of my favorite career bloggers, Alison Green of AskAManager, often answers questions about whether candidates should ask for feedback after an interview. Alison’s take is yes, you should be asking for feedback so you can improve your interviewing skills/candidacy for future job interviews.

If you encounter a recruiter or hiring manager willing to give honest feedback, that contact’s advice could be career gold. She may tell you things like your writing skills aren’t strong enough, you’re overqualified for a certain position, or you really won’t qualify for many audit associate jobs without a CPA. Or, the most vague and frustrating answer, she may tell you that you just weren’t a good fit

I was always skeptical of this advice. Would recruiters be open to sharing what you did wrong? It’s really going the extra mile on behalf of the job applicants, plus it’s awkward to tell people where they went awry.

But yesterday a recruiter from The Hartford convinced me differently. She told me about a candidate she declined for an internship opportunity who followed up and asked about what he did wrong. She gave him honest feedback: He needed to have more involvement on campus so he can answer their behavioral interview questions with more concrete answers, and he needed more leadership experience. 

Flash forward one year later to when he’s graduating and looking for a job: The former applicant again applied to The Hartford, this time with a resume and interview answers demonstrating his involvement on campus and leadership capabilities, all which he cultivated senior year. Needless to say, he landed a fulltime job and is still a successful employee today.

Every relationship between interviewer and interviewee is different. But if you feel you had a good repertoire with your interviewer, ask him or her where you went wrong. Alison gives some great, in-depth advice on how to do this, but some key points are: ask via email, be clear you aren’t debating the decision and just want some insight, and thank the interviewer for the opportunity regardless. Not every recruiter will answer, but if they do, they could equip you with the knowledge to help you nail your next job interview.

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