Asking for feedback requires the willingness to learn from others, particularly in a professional environment.
In this article, our experts discuss how to ask for feedback after an interview.
Let’s find out:
HarperCollins Leadership Author | Founder & Executive Director, Professionals In Transition
In America, companies have become extremely risk-averse. That translates to a human resource or hiring manager that you have interviewed with being forbidden by company policy from giving you additional feedback.
But, in rare instances (with large corporations that is) and in many cases with small companies, you can call and ask for feedback.
You must respond to a rejection letter within 24 hours. Include the following in the letter:
- Thank them for the opportunity to have interviewed.
- Mention how much you learned.
- Explain directly, that even though you didn’t get the job; you really enjoyed the experience and are looking for both insight and additional feedback from them.
- Suggest several dates/times for a follow-up – whether it is by phone, Zoom, or in-person meeting.
- End with the sentence: “You will hear from me shortly.” This puts the person on “gentle notice,” that you will be calling them. (if they don’t pick up the phone and call you within a week.)
- Follow up once with a voicemail, and a week later an e-mail. If no response, move on.
I did this while I was job hunting. One time, my interview with a major greeting card manufacturer based in Cleveland, (my out-of-town job interview) was a “comedy of errors,” from start to finish.
Actually, I’m surprised that I even had the courage to ask for feedback because of all of the calamities (that were out of my control) that I encountered along the way. Even with the humiliating, disastrous, worst interview/meeting, of my life, ever, the lead person did take my call.
She provided feedback about how frustrating it was for her team to meet with me on a Friday (my request); with all of my travel logistics getting so screwed up, making them wait almost four hours; and not arriving until 5:00 pm. The meeting was scheduled for 1:00 pm. I had that feedback coming…Ouch!
But then she said: “Someone who worked for me on the past applied after you. If you were me, would you go with a complete stranger or someone who has worked for you in the past; worts and all; who would you hire?”
I never had a chance and began to feel much about myself.
Founder and CEO, Better Proposals
I’ve had lots of job interviews before but very few candidates actually reach out to recruiters and asked for feedback. The best way to do it is when you’re absolutely certain that you didn’t get the job – when you get a rejection email. This is the time to send an email asking how your interview went and what you could have done better.
Write a short email upon receiving the rejection letter
Remind the interviewer who you are and what you talked about because they could have had 50 different interviews and the chances of remembering you, in particular, are very slim.
Just send a short email asking how the interview went and if there was something you could have done better. In most cases, you will get an honest answer.
Dear (Recruiter name),
You may remember me as an applicant for (Role X) and I know that I didn’t get the job. I want to thank you for the opportunity, as well as ask you a small favor. Could you tell me how I did at the interview? You may remember me because of (a story you told at the interview or some other detail).
I really want to improve the way I perform at job interviews and your feedback would mean the world to me. Was there anything that I’ve done particularly bad? Could I improve something for the next time? What have I done well?
This will only take a few minutes of your time and it will help me with finding a new job.
Many thanks in advance,
Don’t wait until after the interview to ask for feedback
Due to legal concerns and just general discomfort with sharing the bad news, your odds of getting honest, constructive responses are slim to none.
My recommendation is to get feedback during the interview. I encourage my clients to say something like this towards the end of the interview:
“I’ve enjoyed getting to know you and learn more about the company, and now I’m even more excited about the role. Based on what you know about me, do you have any reservations about me joining the team?”
This catches the hiring manager off guard and elicits a more honest response. Plus it gives you the chance to offer a rebuttal for any hesitations that aren’t warranted.
HR Manager, ResumeLab
Getting rejected after a promising interview might feel nothing but disappointing. That being said, post-interview feedback can provide a unique opportunity to propel your interviewing skills and glean insights into your core strengths and weaknesses.
To ask for feedback after an interview, you can follow a simple, battle-tested formula.
- Thank the hiring manager for their time and make you keep your tone polite
- Explain your motivation for reaching out and ask for advice on how you could revamp your interviewing techniques.
Below is a real-life example of how to ask for feedback after a less-than-stellar interview:
Dear Ms. Smith,
I wanted to reach out to show you my appreciation for giving me the opportunity to interview for the position at XZY. While I’m undoubtedly disappointed that you won’t be moving forward with my candidacy, I’d like to request any feedback you may have based on my interview performance.
I feel strongly that your suggestions will help sharpen my professional skills as well as help me pinpoint areas for improvement.
Thank you again for your time and consideration.
Asking for feedback after an interview is a challenge. Hiring managers tend to frown on providing constructive feedback due to the risk and potential liability. The worst thing that can happen is they’ll say no. I suggest the following guidelines.
If you don’t make it past an initial screen or first interview, ask the recruiter if there is any feedback about why you haven’t been chosen to move forward.
The best time to ask for more substantial feedback is when you’ve made it through several rounds of interviews and still don’t get the job. I would ask the hiring manager for feedback first. The key here when asking is to be humble and receptive.
Thank them for the opportunity to be considered and how appreciative you are
Express how would be incredibly helpful to your development and career if they could provide any constructive feedback as to why you were not selected. Reasons for not being selected can be as straightforward as missing a specific experience, skill, or area of expertise.
For most job rejections, it’s often greyer. It could be a personality or cultural fit concern, meaning that another candidate seemed to be a better style and organizational fit.
That is hard to provide feedback on or to receive, as you need to be yourself and authentic. Keep in mind that most people leave due to cultural and style fit, not because of the role fit.
CMO, Hill and Ponton Law
Asking for feedback after a job interview is quite an unusual thing for an applicant to do because we are all oriented that once the interview is done, we will patiently wait for the result.
But note that asking for feedback is not bad, keep in mind that asking for feedback could give you an insight on how well did you do and to assess things and questions so that you’ll be ready if ever the next opportunity comes. It could also help you improve you to be better.
If you somehow realized that the hiring manager freed her schedule after the interview, including yours, this could be your chance to have a little friendly chat to know how you did.
Asking for feedback could take a lot of courage, but think of it for the better
Usually, some hiring managers are friendly enough to give some extra time to the candidates she has interviewed earlier.
Asking for feedback is not that bad as they will welcome it and happily answer some of your questions. You just need to take a step to be courageous enough for her to entertain you.
Asking questions is one way on how you can acquire knowledge
It could make the hiring manager smile at you for being eager to learn. She could give you some tips on how to answer interview questions such as “employee expectations”, “the work environment” and some of the questions you could be asked in future interviews.
Better to know what to avoid
It could be not a very good question to ask but it is better than overthinking what did you do wrong if ever there’s any.
Should you have an opportunity to do the interview for the next opportunity, it could be good if you could ask what to avoid so you could do what is right and do better.
Business Development Consultant, My Trading Skills
Demonstrate your sincere interest in constructive feedback
After the introduction in your feedback request letter, you can write:
“I am writing to request any feedback that you might have for me based on my application and interview. Any suggestions or observations that you are willing to share will be instrumental in my professional development, and will help me determine where to put my focus.”
The above statement is genuine, and an HR practitioner will more than likely take the time to craft a genuine response to your request.
Keep your feedback requests simple and genuine
When requesting for feedback, be sure to avoid the letter coming off as a gimmick for you to continue working towards convincing HR that you deserve the job. Such requests do not get feedback.
Bottom Line: Be genuine in your request for feedback after an interview in order to get a response that will be helpful to your future career endeavors.
If you get to the point where you need to request feedback from the interview, it’s likely because you were not selected for the job.
This always stings, and it’s easy to become defensive or assume you just didn’t meet some arbitrary criteria. The truth is that we can all improve, though, and getting feedback will only help you.
Be respectful of the interviewer’s time
Thank them for sitting down with you in the first place, then ask if they’d be willing to give you feedback on where you can improve.
Don’t demand feedback. No one is required to give it to you, and you could potentially burn bridges not just at this employer, but any they speak to in their network.
Give the interviewer your full attention
Listen without considering how you’re going to respond or what you need to do in the future. Just absorb the information they’re giving you and try to understand it. Again, don’t get defensive.
No one in a professional situation is going to just use this as a chance to tear you down. They’re genuinely trying to help you, and taking their advice may mean the difference in landing a future job.
Thank them for their advice, be appropriately gracious, and then think critically about what they’ve told you. Examine your own behavior, analyze it mercilessly, and make a plan to improve by applying what you’ve learned next time.
Give a quick call after receiving the rejection email
You will most likely be ignored if you do ask for feedback after a job rejection unless you do so immediately. Via email, it is easier for the hiring manager to ignore you, but through phone, they are obliged to reply.
So give them a quick call if you were rejected via email, immediately, to just thank them for the opportunity and quickly ask what the issue was.
You should begin the question by telling them that you would like to know for future positions so that they will answer with more honesty in a bid to help you, rather than to save your feelings. Take the information as positive criticism and learn from it, don’t let it get you down.
The best way to ask for feedback is to be direct
You’ve just given your best pitch and if you had any weaknesses in it then asking for feedback will show them up. Not only is this a great chance to fix any mistakes you have made, but you will also learn for the future.
Reassure them that the feedback is for future job applications
If the interview looks hesitant when you ask for feedback, reassure them you genuinely want honest feedback so you can do better in the future. It’s best to be direct, confident but also friendly when asking. A trick I’ve learned is that if you look like you’re expecting an answer, usually you will get an answer.