Finding out that you did not get the job you applied for can be tough.
Upon knowing that you were rejected, it’s tempting to forget about it and just move on to the next job posting. However, asking for thoughtful feedback might benefit your career in the long run.
Here’s how to ask for feedback after job rejection, as discussed by experts:
Co-Founder, Path to Promotion
Ask for feedback very soon after you find out they have decided not to hire you
This is for two reasons – the reason they chose the person will be fresh in their mind, and also it’s your opportunity to leave a good impression.
If you are sent an email rejection, it is best to call within the first 48 hours. If you are rejected with a phone call – ask then and there.
It’s always best to do this over the phone, not via email. Phone calls allow you to build a relationship with the person, and by sending an email asking for feedback, you are asking the person to do extra work by responding.
Responding to a job rejection email is a great way to think of your interview application as a networking opportunity. Creating professional connections is important when trying to advance your career.
By following up after a rejection, it allows you to build a positive relationship with the employer (but only if done in the right way). While other applicants will likely delete a rejection email and not send a response, this will help you to stand out.
It’s essential to do this for three reasons. Sometimes the candidate selected may change their mind and not start, the applicant commences in the role and isn’t the right fit and leaves after a short time, or the employer has an opening for another position for which you could be a fit.
In any of these situations, it’s much easier to choose from a recently interviewed candidate than rerun an entire recruitment process.
Finding out you didn’t get a job is difficult. As a recruiter with two decades of experience, rejecting candidates is still the most challenging part of my work because most of the time many of the candidates on the shortlist could do the job, and do it well.
Thank your interviewer
Express your gratitude for their time and consideration and for the opportunity to learn about the employer. Make a note of any things that you were particularly interested in. Thank them for getting back to you to inform you of the decision.
Express disappointment in a positive manner
Next, express your disappointment. Do this in a positive manner. For example, “I am really disappointed that I didn’t get this role as I was excited about being able to contribute to XYZ.”
Show continued interest
Show your continued interest by making sure the hiring manager understands that you are still interested in working for the company.
“I’d love to be considered for any future opportunities within the organization. I feel that the company values align with mine, and I would appreciate the opportunity to discuss future roles.”
Ask for specific feedback
Explain that you are always trying to improve in your job search and broader career and that you would appreciate any feedback that they can give you. Understand though that some HR departments prohibit this, so don’t be offended if they aren’t able to answer these questions.
“Can you give me any insights into how I could have presented better?”
“Were there any areas in my experience that you felt were a gap?”
Do not beg or act desperate. Never push back on the feedback that they give you and instead, accept it graciously. You should not also try to change their mind.
Leave the door open
Make sure you keep in contact with the person by sending them articles of interest, connecting with them on LinkedIn, and staying in touch.
“Thank you again for your time and for this feedback. If another role opens up that you think that I would be a good fit for, I would love to talk with you about it.”
President, Canal HR
Be optimistic when asking for feedback
Being rejected from a prospective job is unfortunate, but it’s important and worthwhile to ask that hiring manager for feedback on why you didn’t receive a job offer. This allows you to learn from your experience as you continue your job search.
Although it might be embarrassing at first, remain optimistic because feedback after a rejection can be exceptionally helpful.
There is an etiquette to appropriately asking for feedback after being rejected from a job. Here are some examples when asking for feedback:
“Thank you for giving me the opportunity to interview for the role of [position] at [company name]. While I’m sad to see that I didn’t make it to the next round, I appreciate your time and consideration. Can you share any feedback from your team that might help me when applying for positions at your company in the future?”
“It was great speaking with you about the role of [position]. Though I’m disappointed to know the position was offered to another candidate, I would appreciate any feedback you would be willing to share as I continue my job search. Thank you again for your time.”
Director, Found Legal
Be direct and don’t be afraid to ask for feedback
While disappointing and frustrating, a job rejection is a unique opportunity for you to understand your true value to the market and then use this knowledge to better position yourself for future roles.
If it was an external recruiter who introduced you to the hiring team, do not be afraid to ask the recruiter for feedback. They expect you to. At large companies, an interview process for a professional role includes several meetings (with the HR, hiring manager, colleagues in other functions, and a member of the senior management team).
You invested a lot of personal time into the process, and the result was disappointing. Your recruiter will want to keep the relationship with you in case they can place you elsewhere so it will create time to give you feedback.
It’s a great chance to get some of their time to learn about your true value to the market, understand the hiring preferences of similar businesses, and find out how your profile compares to that of the successful finalist.
Is it best to email or call for feedback? This depends on the channel and intensity of your interaction with the recruiter.
If you’ve been keeping in touch by email, it’s best to email them, if you’ve been speaking regularly on the phone, your recruiter will be happy to take a call from you and chat.
Here is an example of a real follow-up message requesting feedback I received from one of my candidates.
“Thank you for letting me know – was there any feedback on my profile, or could you provide any information on the profile of the candidate they have selected? It would be helpful to know in terms of how to present my candidacy in the future, thanks very much, I appreciate it.
The message is a light touch, friendly, and makes it very easy for your recruiter to get back to you. Just yesterday, I talked a great candidate through rejection.
We ended up spending 45 minutes on the phone and apart from the feedback, she received guidance on how to better present her experience in her CV, how she could improve her LinkedIn profile to be noticed by more recruiters, and how she could use LinkedIn search filters to find and connect with hiring managers in her area.
President & CEO, Focus Forward Consulting
As a hiring manager, I was always struck at how few people reached out for interview feedback when they did not get a role. It is a great way to hone your interviewing skills and I always was willing to give honest feedback.
Here are examples of some of the best approaches for feedback that I received.
- “I enjoyed meeting with you and was very disappointed not to receive an offer from your organization. As someone who is focused on self-improvement, I was hoping that you could share with me what I did well in the interview process and what I should have done differently.”
- “While I wanted to work with you at —– in the — role, I understand that it is not meant to be. I believe that one should always find learning in all disappointments. I am hoping that you would give me 10 minutes of your time to receive feedback on my interviewing skills.”
- “Thank you for taking the time to interview me for the role of x. I am hoping you would indulge me a few more moments of your time to better understand how I could have better presented myself. I believe every experience is one that we can learn from and I am hoping to take the feedback you give me to improve my skills.”
Remember, no matter how much you disagree with the feedback simply thank the person for their time and the learning.
Katherine Metres Akbar
Sounding grounded is important
A great message will express disappointment, show empathy, ask for feedback, and express interest in an ongoing relationship. Sounding grounded is important, because if you sound upset, they are less likely to give you any information.
For example, you could write,
“Thank you so much for letting me know about your decision.
Although I am disappointed we won’t be working together at this time, I am pleased that you found what you were looking for. Would you be able to provide any feedback for me on the gap between your needs and what I presented?
I consider you a valued part of my network and hope you will call on me in the future if I can ever be of assistance in any way.
Thanks and regards,
If they do provide any feedback, thank them professionally; never argue or get hostile. You could be their second choice, and the first choice could fall through!
Sales and Operations Strategist, People Managing People
The truth is, the only way to know why you’re rejected from a job is to ask why – but how to do it?
- Be respectful. After a job rejection, send a follow-up email that oozes politeness and humility.
- Say thank you to the hiring manager for letting you know you weren’t chosen and express your disappointment.
- Ask for honest feedback. How can you expect to do better if you don’t know where you went wrong? Be sure to ask for feedback and how you can improve your candidacy for employment.
Here is a sample script that someone can use to ask for feedback after a job rejection:
I really appreciate you taking the time to review my application for the [X Job Role] position this past week. I also want to say thank you for informing me that I wouldn’t be a good fit for this position.
Although I am disappointed that I wasn’t selected, I would like to take this opportunity to get some honest feedback. Could you please tell me why I wasn’t selected for the position? In addition, can you please give me some pointers on how I could improve my job candidacy for this role? Any feedback would be greatly appreciated as I’m still very interested in working with you in the future.
Thank you very much for your time.
Following up after a job rejection can only help you in the long run. The job interviewer may appreciate the fact that you’re open to feedback and may even change his or her mind on hiring you!
As long as you’re respectful, show appreciation, and ask for feedback, you should get a positive reply.
Taylor McCarthy Hansen
Business Leader & Podcast Host, The Ecomm Manager
Asking for feedback after an interview can be handled in such a way that it shows you were prepared, were serious about the position, and are trying to improve yourself.
Think about the points where you think you came off the weakest
Specifically, ask if those points came across okay. By highlighting them as something you may have explained poorly, this reassures the interviewer that those weak points may have just been poor wording, and can allow you to fix any misunderstandings right in the interview room. It’s like asking if you can circle back to something, but without causing annoyance.
If there is nothing specific you were worried about then at the end you could say, “I hope you don’t mind but I’m curious how I did? Were there any weak points in my interview? It would really help me to know so that I could improve myself.”
Improving yourself, fixing weak points, this is what an interviewer wants to hear. It can even land you a position you were about to lose.
If you have a specific area you think you didn’t get to cover properly, or something you wish had been covered but wasn’t, then I’d go with a different approach.
Let’s say you are worried your interview didn’t include much that showed you were specifically suited to working with databases as an example. I would recommend, “I’m curious how I did, specifically if I showed my knowledge of databases but also in a general sense?” If they say, “Actually I didn’t hear anything that suggested you knew how to work with databases,” you can jump in and fix that right there and then.
They could highlight an area that you hadn’t even considered, and again you now have the opportunity to very quickly fix that situation.
Showing that you are willing to take the initiative to fix problems is a big thing, as is showing you are willing to engage with someone to problem shoot right from the start. Don’t be afraid to take charge, at least to a degree.
Head of Operations, Dynamite Jobs
Ask for specifically what you were lacking
For example, after you receive a rejection email, you could say:
[ Name of hiring manager ],
It was great getting to know you during the interview process and I appreciate your time. There are no hard feelings that I wasn’t chosen for this position, I am just glad I have learned from the process.
Are you open to letting me know what I was specifically lacking (maybe a skill or experience) that stopped me from being chosen?
Your insight will help me improve my chances and narrow my job search.
[ Your name ]
If it’s a skill or experience issue, there’s a high chance you’ll get a nice response and some advice. This will help you tailor your application, resume, and maybe even type of job you’re applying for. They may even refer you to another position.
Often times, the final decision for the hire is out of the hands of whomever you were speaking with. The job may have gone to someone in their network, or the position could have been canceled. You might find this out as well.
No matter what happened, it’s best to seek genuine advice by asking specific, simple questions. Open-ended questions, i.e. ‘Why didn’t I get this job’ will probably not produce any useful feedback.
Suzanne Rohan Jones
Career Coach and Counselor | Adjunct Instructor (Psychology), Maryville University
When a recession occurs with an increase in unemployment, the number of job seekers applying to each available job increases, which causes a tightening in the labor market.
More individuals applying to each job leads to more individuals also being rejected for those jobs. It is common for organizations to send generic emails to applicants explaining that their resume or application is “no longer being considered for the position” and asking the individuals not to contact the recruiter or human resources department due to the high volume of applicants.
However, how does a job seeker then get constructive feedback from organizations after such a rejection? The key point with asking for feedback after a rejection is to learn what needs to be revised or improved on a resume or from the interview to increase the likelihood that the job seeker will move farther along in the selection process for future available positions, to the point of being offered the job.
Here are a few suggestions for how to approach the request for feedback:
After receiving a generic rejection email that specifically asks for applicants to not reach out to the organization for feedback, job seekers should follow this suggestion and not contact the organization’s recruiting or human resources department.
Doing so implies that the applicant fully read the email rejection or did not disrespect the wishes of the organization, which would serve as a mark against the applicant in case he/she applies for available positions in the future.
If an individual has been rejected for a position at an organization where he/she has a personal or professional connection, it is acceptable to reach out to the contact to ask for feedback or a suggestion.
When an applicant moved past the initial screening phase of a selection process to have one or more interviews before receiving a rejection, the opportunity to ask for feedback can be used to not only gain information to help the job search process but also demonstrate professionalism and strong communication skills.
Reaching out directly to the interviewer by email or phone to ask for feedback is as simple as asking this question:
“What suggestions do you have for me to be a stronger candidate for this type of position? Could you provide me with some feedback on my interview skills?”
Feedback after a job rejection can come directly from the organization to which the individual applied, but can also be obtained from professional contacts in the industry, family or friends who have been engaged in the recruiting and selection process, and career counselors who offer resume critiques and/or mock interviews (whether in private practice or through college/university career services offices).
Related: How to Reach out to a Recruiter
Acknowledge their time
Because hirers deal with so many applicants, it’s a great idea to acknowledge their time and thank them for it before asking for anything else, especially if you’re dealing with a busy manager or executive. It shows consideration of what they do and expresses character on your part.
Keep it short and clear
Additionally, keep your inquiry short and clear, in a paragraph of its own. A simple “Is there any feedback you can give me so I can improve on future applications?” is all you need.
They may not be able to respond, but if they can, this can help keep your inquiry clear, as opposed to buried in a block of text.
Marketing Director, Crash
Be direct, be thankful for the opportunity, and make it as easy as possible for them
Hiring leaders & recruiters are busy bees — the good ones will take the extra few minutes to give you feedback, but you’ve gotta make it easy.
- Thank them for the opportunity.
- Ask for their professional opinion: “How could I better stand out next time?”
- Make it easy. Don’t ask for a phone call, just let them respond to your email, or to your LinkedIn message if that’s how you’ve been in touch.
Note, if the rejection comes from a generic/automated system, you may need to hunt down the actual human who can give you feedback. Find them on LinkedIn, and send a polite connection request with the above.
You can also use tools to find their email address and reach out politely if you didn’t already do that at the beginning of the hiring process.
Michael Tomaszewski, CPRW
Resume Expert and Career Advice Writer, Zety
Sometimes it is easier to agree with someone than to risk being misunderstood. Therefore, it is worth making an assumption about yourself and asking the recruiter if that was a reason for rejecting you as a candidate. This way, the recruiter has a specific point of reference. Here’s an example:
“During our meeting, I got the impression that you expect a person who has experience not only in content writing but also in technical SEO. Was my lack of experience in this area the reason for rejecting my candidacy?”
Ask for help; do not demand it
Believe me, when I say – recruiters are not evil creatures that take pleasure from someone else’s misfortune. If you ask for help, you’ll most likely receive it and use this advice in the future. For example, you may ask about financial expectations:
“I would like to ask about my financial expectations compared to the experience I have. Does your practice show that it was adequate, or did I overestimate it?”
Editor & Content Ambassador, Romantific
Getting rejected by your prospective company for a position that you really want can be very frustrating. Still, that’s not a reason to get discouraged. I was once in the same situation where I was interviewed but rejected. I just considered the fact that only about five applicants out of hundreds actually earn a face-to-face interview but I was given the opportunity to be one of those five.
You might not want to contact them again due to embarrassment but it will be very helpful for your future applications to get feedback after a job rejection. Here are two ways to ask with samples:
When you receive a rejection email, respond immediately within 24 hours
Thank them for their email and for the opportunity that they have provided you. Never beg them to change their decision nor sound bitter or upset regarding the result, you will sound very unprofessional which will further justify their action.
You should also end your email by telling how you are still open to be contacted if they will be having a more suitable position for you in the future, along with your primary purpose of requesting feedback. You can use the following email template:
Dear Mr./Ms. [Interviewer’s Name]:
I am very grateful for the opportunity to be interviewed for the position and I really appreciate the time that you spent to talk to me.
Though your decision saddens me, I still want to express my utmost interest in joining your company should another position come up in which I would be more qualified.
If possible, I would love to receive feedback on how I could have done better during my application and interview. This would help me a lot in improving my skills and career growth so it will be highly appreciated. Wishing you and the company all the best.
When you receive the bad news over the phone, ask them for feedback right then and there
Same with the email response above, you should always express how thankful you are without sounding upset and bitter. Don’t beg and sound desperate, instead, tell them that you are still eager to be one of them. Then, ask for their feedback and pause to wait for an answer.
Let them know that their feedback will matter on motivating yourself to do better next time. Also, do not overwhelm them with too many questions and end the call with a positive comment after showing gratitude. You may consider the script below:
“I really appreciate you informing me about the decision, though I am still motivated to join your team. Can you please give me feedback or suggestions to help me improve my application or interview skills?
[wait for their response]
Thank you so much! If another role with a better fit opens up, don’t hesitate to contact me by phone or email. All the best! ”