Getting Feedback After An Interview

You thought the interview went well but you don’t get the job. What now? How can you learn from the situation?

“Getting feedback after an interview isn’t easy,” explains Doug Lemmonds, SVP of MDL Partners. “People struggle with this all the time. There isn’t one approach that necessarily works better than others – in fact getting feedback at all is quite rare. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth trying.”

Asking for constructive criticism is not something you should do after only a first round of interviews. Only do so if you’ve made it far in the process and have been able to really establish a rapport with your interviewer.

Even then, approach the subject with caution. Choose your timing carefully – people are often not receptive to this kind of request so you should be concise and don’t put anyone on the spot. Email is usually best.

Strike the right tone. Be polite, and understand that there is a likelihood that you will not hear back. People often feel uncomfortable with these situations and avoid them. They also worry about legal risks.

Remember that a hiring manager is not obligated to follow up with you, but you may have more success if you have gone through a recruiter. Keeping lines of communication open with a recruiter is a good practice in general. However, you also can try talking directly to the hiring manager sometime down the road. The focus of your inquiry should be more on how you can improve your interviewing technique and skill set than specifics to the particular position you did not win.

Although some companies are hesitant about offering feedback, remember this: it doesn’t hurt to ask.

Most importantly, ask yourself post-interview questions to help narrow down the issues. Honest self-reflection is key:

  • Were you really suited for this job? Are you interviewing for the right jobs in general; ones that match your particular transferable skill-set?
  • Were you as prepared as you should have been?
  • What questions did you handle particularly well?
  • What questions did you struggle with?

In the end, remember to be thoughtful, non-argumentative and thankful if someone takes the time to offer feedback.