Interview feedback can be a job-seekers greatest tool, but it’s something that many tend to avoid. If you’ve been unsuccessful with a job interview, getting an understanding of why can improve your chances next time. If you’re not sure how to navigate the interview feedback process, let our latest top tips guide you through:
Should I ask for feedback?
Yes, no matter what stage of the process you made it to, don’t be afraid to ask for feedback on why your application wasn’t successful. This is particularly important if you’ve interviewed for the role. Some places will automatically provide you with feedback following an unsuccessful interview, however if none is offered it’s a good idea to follow up and find out why.
How to ask for interview feedback:
Consider what’s going to be the best method for receiving your interview feedback – do you want to hear it over the phone or receive it via email?
There’re pros and cons to both and it can depend a lot on your own preferences. Getting feedback via email gives you the chance to process it in your own time and space. Whereas over the phone gives you more of an opportunity to ask questions and seek clarification. If you’re worried that emotions might run high, email may be a better way to receive this.
If you don’t have a preference as to how the feedback comes to you, then it’s best to follow the Hiring Manager’s lead. If they declined you for the job via email then respond to that. But if it was over the phone, ask them then and there for feedback.
When asking for feedback, don’t forget to start with the pleasantries. Thank them again for their time to consider you, and if there’s anything in particular you really enjoyed from the interview experience, let them know!
Interviews are always a two-way street, if there’s something you think could have been done better with the interview process, then do give that feedback – just be careful how you word it so you don’t come off sounding bitter.
Don’t wait too long to ask for feedback– it’s best (and more beneficial) to do it while everything’s still fresh!
Tips for processing and taking feedback on-board:
Let’s be honest, its never fun to feel rejected. When we feel threatened or challenged, our natural reaction is to kick into fight or flight mode, so the first hurdle in receiving interview feedback is to fight that natural instinct to react emotionally.
Before you respond to the bad news, take a step away (or a deep breath) and consider things practically. While it’s easy to become disheartened when it feels like you’re getting nowhere with your applications, what’s harder to do is see each application as an individual process and outcome. Rather than conflating all your unsuccessful applications into one big sense of failure, remember that for each job you apply for, only one person can be successful. It wasn’t you this time, and it may not have been you last time. But if you give up now it will never be you. So as much as you can, try to stay in a positive frame of mind and treat each job interview as a separate process.
Listen (or read) carefully – active listening comes into play here, which can be hard to do if the news is bad, but is very important if you want to improve your chances going forward. Pay attention to the words used, listen out for anything that feels unsaid and allow them to say their piece without interrupting.
You don’t have to hide your emotions, but don’t let them get the better of you. It’s perfectly fine to express disappointment and even to disagree with the reasons (if you do it in a nice way). But what’s not okay is taking out your frustrations on the person providing the feedback.
Take action – if the consistent feedback you’re receiving is to do with your suitability for the role, or lack of relevant skills and experience, then you need to reassess what kinds of jobs you are applying for. Maybe you’re not at the right level yet and need more experience under your belt. If you’re looking at making a sector or career change, find out if there’s any additional training or qualifications that can help you get your foot in the door.
If the feedback is related to how you conducted yourself during the interview – such as your physical behaviour i.e. not enough eye contact, addressing your answers to only one person on a multi-person panel or being too fidgety, then that’s really constructive advice you can take with you to your next interview. If the feedback is more around the substance of your answers, then perhaps you need to do more practice on how to tackle typical interview questions.
Sometimes there’s literally nothing you could’ve done differently – maybe there just happened to be another person who was absolutely perfect for the job in every way. If that’s the case, then take that as a win – sure it would’ve been nicer to get a job instead, but positive feedback like that demonstrates you’re on the right track!
I don’t agree with the feedback or their reason why, what should I do?
If you don’t feel that the feedback you’ve been provided is justified, just about the worst thing you can do is to try to argue your case. Regardless of how valid you may feel in your opinion, the decision has been made. A candidate that has been declined for a job but continues to try to convince the hiring manager to change their mind is memorable for all the wrong reasons.
An important skill no matter what sector you work in is the ability to take constructive criticism. This doesn’t mean you have to agree, and if you don’t it’s okay to say that. But be really careful around how you present your objections. Fighting back and trying to “win” them over is only going to make you seem difficult or argumentative. Saying “I don’t necessarily agree with that feedback but thank you for providing it” is going to come across a whole lot better than “I don’t think you’re right and let me tell you why…”
While it can be hard to take interview feedback on board, it’s such a valuable tool for any job seeker that it would be a shame to miss that opportunity. It’s natural to want to avoid the awkwardness of the conversation, but in the long run it’s going to help!
Kirsty and Nikki