A hiring decision is based on many factors. But when it comes down to the final two or three candidates, who is chosen is less a question of qualifications (because there is almost always more than one good candidate) and more one of personality or even personal connections.
Perhaps you think you didn’t get the job because you gave a poor answer to an interview question, or you didn’t do enough research. Lesson learned. So, why bother to ask for feedback after a job rejection? Well, you could be wrong. You might even find out that the position was canceled entirely.
This article discusses why asking for feedback is worthwhile. We explain when and how to follow up and give examples of what to say. We also tell you why you should definitely ask an external recruiter for feedback and provide an email template for doing so. Finally, we show how asking for feedback is a way to network and get your foot in the door for next time.
The news that you have not been selected after an interview will come either by phone or from a job rejection email. If you are contacted by phone, you could ask at that moment why you were not considered the stronger candidate.
If you are informed by email, call your contact within 48 hours if you can. That way, the interview process is still fresh in the minds of the recruiters.
It is best to ask for feedback during a phone call because it is easier to build rapport with the recruiter if you speak to them. Also, if you email the recruiter, they feel obligated to email you back, which is additional work for them.
What does building rapport matter now that you have been rejected? Well, you still want to leave a good impression. What if you were the second choice, and the selected candidate decides not to accept the job offer? The company might come back to you at that point and make you an offer without you having to submit a whole new job application. It’s much easier for a recruiter to choose someone they have already vetted and got to know.
It’s a rare candidate who responds to a rejection email, but a wise candidate knows it is a great way to network and open yourself up to other opportunities.
For more on networking, read, "Building Your Professional Network to Land a Job."
There are four things you should be sure to say when you ask for feedback. First, say thank you to the person you talk to for their time and the opportunity to learn more about the company. Tell them about any highlights or things that particularly stood out for you. Verbalize your disappointment and add what you were most looking forward to as far as the job was concerned. Ask for specific feedback. Lastly, express your continued interest. Here are some ways to phrase those things.
“Thank you for letting me know that I have not been selected. I also want to thank you and the interviewers again for their time and effort and the opportunity to learn more about the company.”
“I was disappointed to learn that I had not been selected. I was really interested to hear about the company’s new initiatives in product development and was hoping to get a more hands-on perspective of your projects.”
“Do you mind if I ask why I was not selected? It might help me in my job search if I knew the reason and any specific areas I could work on for future interviews. For example, could I have presented better, or do you see gaps in my experience?”
“I was very impressed with your company and the work it is doing. So, if any opportunities arise in the future that you think I might be a good fit for, please contact me.”
Remember that the goal is not to change their decision or to beg for a job, so don’t belabor the conversation. It is merely to establish a rapport and leave the door open. That way, you can always apply to another position with the company later. Connect with your contact on LinkedIn so that they can keep up to date on your career moves and any postings.
It’s much easier asking for interview feedback from an external recruiter because they most likely did not interview you, but they should have an idea why you were not the final candidate. If you were introduced to a hiring team by an external recruiter, you really should ask for feedback because the recruiter expects it.
You may have gone through several interviews for a job (with the recruiter, human resources in the organization, the management team) and were most likely a great candidate. So, you deserve to know the outcome of the hiring process. Additionally, the recruiter will want to maintain a relationship with you and help you with your interview performance so that they can place you.
Working with an external recruiter is an opportunity to better understand your worth in the market. Through a recruiter, you can learn the hiring preferences of other companies, obtain career advice, and find out how you stack up to the competition.
Because recruiters are working for you and the hiring company, it is appropriate to send them an email requesting feedback after an unsuccessful interview. Here is a sample email:
Dear [Recruiter's name],
Thank you for letting me know that I was not selected for the position of [job title] with [company name]. I would be grateful to learn if there was any constructive feedback on my candidacy or any information on the successful candidate that could help me change my presentation for my next interview?
I would really appreciate your insights.
Recruiters will not hesitate to give you constructive criticism. It might be to update your LinkedIn profile and connect with other hiring managers. They might suggest you hone your job interview skills, or they might note what aspects of your work history to emphasize in your resume, cover letter, and interviews.
A relationship with a recruiter is coveted because the advice comes from an expert.
To learn more about recruiters, read "What Is a Recruiter’s Role?"
All of the information given in this article is rational. But, often, a hiring decision is less so. There are many factors involved when choosing between two or three stand-out applicants (and there is almost always more than one qualified candidate capable of filling the role).
You might have been rejected because you are experienced and the company does not think it can meet your salary expectations. You might be rejected because another candidate has a personal connection with one of the decision-makers. Or, the company might have decided not to hire anyone at all.
The point is that it doesn’t really matter. What does matter is that, assuming this was close to your dream job, you express that you would be interested in future opportunities. That’s it. Request feedback because it will keep the door open in case you have an opportunity to walk through it later.