Many things in life remind us that we are not perfect. The fact that failure will happen is evident but it is how we respond to this defeat that really matters. For numerous candidates, the hardest part of the job search is being told by a hiring manager “we are going to go in a different direction”. However, this does not have to be the end all be all. Understanding employer feedback is one of the most important components of growing as a candidate.
Interviewing is a skill that takes practice. Without practice how will one ever improve without learning from their mistakes and receiving constructive criticism? The fastest way that a job seeker can become employed, on top of obtaining the knowledge and experience needed in their desired field of work, is to make a great first impression in the interview process. For those candidates that don’t have the natural skills of a first impression or are against top competition, feedback from the hiring manager may be the secret weapon in landing the next job.
There is no simpler way to seek feedback than to just ask. Theoretically, employers should respect the fact that you are taking the necessary steps towards self-improvement. Let’s dive into a few reasons why hiring managers might not cough up some of that information and provide feedback to candidates and the best way to ask for criticism.
Employers reluctant to provide feedback?
First, it is crucial to understand why hiring managers might be hesitant to provide feedback to candidates who are hired. One reason might be due to the legal liability. Regardless of the reason why an employer rejects one candidate, if the candidate sees the reasoning as unjust and files a discrimination lawsuit it could result in thousands of dollars in legal fees, months fighting in court and the irreparable damage to the company brand just to prove innocent. For them, it is easier to avoid the risk by keeping this type of information confidential.
An alternate reason that is more common is the time commitment. An employer who is looking to fill several different positions may receive dozens, perhaps hundreds of applications. If they were to provide feedback for every unsuccessful candidate, it could add weeks or months to the recruiting process. Hiring managers who have good intentions can only provide so much feedback if their schedule allows it.
How to ask for feedback
Just like other things in life, timing is everything, especially when requesting feedback from an employer. It is of the essence to follow up after an interview within one to two days to confirm interest and guarantee their application/ interview is still fresh in the employer’s mind. Candidates should also respond using similar methods of communication they obtained during the rejection email or call.
When asking the initial question to a hiring manager, candidates should never ask “Why wasn’t I hired?”, instead explain your reasons behind asking. For example, you can state that you are looking to improve your job search and are seeking constructive criticism. The best way to get an answer from said hiring manager is to ask them to pinpoint any areas where you were lacking or if they have any recommendations on how to better showcase your skills and experience in future interviews.
Ending on a positive
Although no offer was received, there are still necessary steps to be taken after you’ve been given feedback. Remind yourself to be opened minded and respond in the appropriate manner. It is imperative to remember that employers are under no obligation to tell candidates why they were not hired.
When a candidate does hear back, they should never act defensively or argue with the feedback they are receiving. This won’t change the outcome of the hiring process and there is always a probability that the applicant that they did hire won’t work out and the hiring manager will need to reconsider and take a look at a second- or third– choice. There is always potential of the company hiring for alternate positions in the future so reacting positively to their feedback and showing your appreciation could open the door for future opportunities with the company.
Of course, landing the role you are interviewing for is always the end goal. However, learning from rejection and applying that knowledge towards your next interview is a great step forward. Hopefully this will lead to you landing the job that was meant for you.
Erika Daniel serves as a Director at RETS Associates, a national real estate executive search firm. She can be reached at: email@example.com