How To Get Useful Interview Feedback

How To Get Useful Interview Feedback

Just pipped at the post? The other candidate was a better match? Had more relevant experience? You were great but the culture not quite right, or just not right now? It’s not you it’s me – sound familiar?


It’s hard letting people down, no one likes rejection and being the bearer of bad news is no picnic. It’s easier to let candidates down gently, to leave a quick voicemail message, say something generic or never call at all.


It’s true that the reason for rejection is rarely given and that this lack of comment is on the increase. With a rising focus on discrimination, many in fear of being misconstrued, reprisal or doubt say nothing at all.



This is more than just a shame as constructive feedback is one of the biggest tools a job seeker can have. Gaining an insight to how you come across to others allows you, if necessary; to modify behaviour you perhaps weren’t even aware of. Without such input the same area of concern could be repeated over and over again.


Of course external commentary is still subjective and very much open to interpretation. Yet, if you have missed out on a role you were really keen on, understanding why is even more imperative to the success of future applications in the same environment, level or situation.


Also if you sense a pattern emerging and the incident isn’t isolated breaking this chain could be the key.


By picking up the phone you stand a better chance of building a relationship with the recruiter. They are more likely to give you more useful feedback and insight if you canvass their personal view.


The more aggressive you are the more defensive they will become, so try and use phrases such as “In your opinion what could I do to improve my success rate with this type of role?” “Have you any CV advice I could try?”


If you receive what appears to be a generic response e.g. “We have received other applications that more closely match the criteria, so unfortunately are unable to progress at this point…” either verbally or on email, try and get specific details relevant to you by explaining how and why you were so interested in this particular position and make it clear you want to focus on what you could do in the future and where there is room for improvement.


Another ploy is to ask what you’re doing well! Even this information is useful, it means to can continue to impress in the future, opens up dialogue with the interviewer and may lead to more.



If working with an agency, ask them to make enquiries for you. Again, it is not uncommon for Recruiters not to ask difficult feedback questions of their clients. If they had three candidates in the process and one of which was offered, they may work on the placement rather than process the rejections. As they will know the successful application they may have an extra insight, yet be warned, sometimes their assumptions are worse than no feedback at all.



Sometimes you may be given pointers but only hearing what you want to hear?


One candidate from my past once told me she was good at interview and had great feedback from the last three she had attended. Although she had not got the job, she said she was so relaxed the interviews had seemed more like chats really. After further investigation it was apparent she was far too informal at interview, never managed to stay on topic when answering a question and talked far too much losing her audience and running out of time.



You may have nothing to work on. The information given correct and just beaten out due to something beyond your control.


Yet what if it was all down to excel skills or slight confusion on how you presented your reason for leaving? Wouldn’t you want to know?


Then what? It’s great you finally have some feedback, but what are you going to do about it?


Couldn’t you then book an online excel course or polish up making your motivations clear? Wouldn’t that make all the difference?


I know this is a tough one, sometimes all the chase up calls and emails leave you with nothing but frustration. There is certainly a point where a line must be drawn and for your own motivation move past such rejections.


However, if you don’t ask you’ll never get, and if you don’t do, well remember it’s not you it’s me – right?



If you found this subject of interest, you may also like the following related posts from

The Sound Of Silence

How Do You Find The Good Recruitment Consultants Amongst The Bad & The Ugly?

Questions Anyone?

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Sarah Cooper has over 14 years Recruitment experience gained in both an internal and agency environment. As one of the founding Directors of McGinnis Loy Ltd, specialist Finance and HR Recruiters, she is still actively recruiting in the marketplace today. Follow her helpful tweets @approachmarket

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