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The dreaded rejection letter. You thought you nailed it in the interview and you believe you have all the skills listed in the job description. What happened?

Although it’s disappointing and you feel frustrated, this is a great opportunity to gain some insight that can be valuable going forward. You might just learn how you can improve your interviewing skills and do so much better in your job search.

So how can you ask for feedback? Here are some tips to get you the information you need without seeming desperate or bitter. You’ll prove that you’re open to learning and growing as well as keeping the door open to future opportunities.

  1. First of all, you have nothing to lose. The worst case is the employer doesn’t respond and the best case is you may get information that improves your chances for next time…maybe even with this same company.
  2. Employers are more likely to share feedback verbally, than via email. Mostly, this has to do with concerns that any written response could be used as evidence if there were a legal action. So, initiate a conversation by sending a brief email asking for a short phone call to get some constructive input.
  3. Make sure you leave a positive final impression. Who knows? There may be another opening at this company in the near future. So be brief and concise. Simply ask for advice for the future.
  4. It may make sense to ask your recruiter (and not the hiring manager) for this feedback since they will likely be the most honest and have the most at stake in your getting an offer. It’s likely the interviewer was honest with him/her about your performance and he/she doesn’t get paid unless they place you.
  5. The best time to ask is within 24 hours of your rejection (but wait a few hours… you don’t want to appear desperate). If they call with the bad news, ask for feedback right on that call. It can be awkward putting someone on the spot, but ask if there was a piece of experience they felt was lacking or was there something you could do in future interviews to present yourself better.
  6. Leave the door open. There’s nothing wrong with ending the call or email by saying you appreciate their time and although this process didn’t work out, perhaps you’d be right for a different role that opens up.
    If you made it past the first round, it means your skills and experience were a match… so the reason you didn’t get the job might be more personal. Maybe you talked too much, seemed impersonal or disinterested? This is when feedback will be so useful the next
  7. time you interview.
  8. Express gratitude for the time the interviewer took to respond to your request. They don’t have to share feedback with you.

What NOT to do

  1. There is no point in trying to change their minds. They have already made a decision.
  2. Whatever you do, do not argue, explain or act defensive. Simply take the advice and thank them for their consideration and time.
  3. Don’t ask directly about your interview performance itself. Begin by thanking the interviewer for his/her time and then pose specific questions about how you can enhance your interviewing style.
  4. Don’t act desperate or beg. No matter what happens, it will make them want to hire you even less.
  5. Don’t make it about “why” you didn’t get the job. Re-frame it about “how” you can improve.

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