You wrote a stand-out cover letter and resume, prepared for the interview, and rocked the entire application process. But you didn’t get the job. It happens. But as you move on to the next opportunity, if you don’t ask for feedback after a job rejection, you could be missing out on a golden opportunity to improve your performance in the next interview—and land the job.
Why It’s Important to Ask For Interview Feedback
It’s not easy to ask for feedback on anything, but it can be especially hard to ask for feedback after job rejection. However, asking for and receiving it can help your job search.
Interview feedback may help you understand where you misstepped and how you can improve your answers. And because so few applicants ask for feedback, you’ll stand out as someone willing to learn and grow from uncomfortable or negative experiences. Who knows? The next time there’s a job opening, the company may reach out to you to fill it!
Asking for feedback after an interview also gives you the opportunity to learn something about yourself. You may think you’ve done a fantastic job explaining why the employer should hire you. But as it turns out, the interviewer had no idea why they should choose you over other applicants! Maybe your answers weren’t as clear as you thought they were, or the examples you gave weren’t as relevant as you’d hoped.
Finally, you may discover that you did everything right, but someone else was slightly more qualified for the role. Maybe they have a certification you don’t have, or maybe they have one more year of experience over you. This is still valuable information, helping you size up the competition and understand what steps you may need to take to stand out in your field.
When to Ask For Feedback
Ideally, you should ask for feedback as soon as you find out you didn’t get the job.
You’ll most likely receive an email, so send your feedback request within 24 hours of receiving the rejection. If you get a voicemail, 24 hours to call back is also a good rule of thumb.
On the off chance the interviewer is calling with your rejection, and you answer the phone, the right time to ask for feedback is while you have them on the line!
How to Ask For Feedback
Whether you’re leaving a voicemail, writing an email, or speaking to someone in real time, there is a basic outline to help you ask for interview feedback.
Start by thanking the interviewer for their time and discussing the position and company with you. Then, explain that you want to learn from this rejection so you can improve.
Ask the employer what they feel you lack or can do to improve. You can go with something broad, like, “If I were to reapply to the company in the future, what’s one thing I could do to improve my application?” Or, you could ask for something specific, such as, “Am I missing any relevant skills you need from candidates?”
End your feedback request by thanking them again or expressing gratitude for being selected for an interview and telling them you appreciate anything they can share with you.
If this is a real-time discussion, make sure you pause to give the interviewer time and space to answer you. Most people who are willing to give feedback need a moment to frame their feedback in a positive yet helpful manner.
Here is a sample feedback request to get you started.
Hi, [Interviewer Name],
Thank you for your time and telling me more about [position name or company].
I understand your decision, and as someone committed to continuous improvement, I’d like to ask you for some feedback. Specifically, do I lack some experience, or did I not present my qualifications clearly?
I appreciate any information you can share with me that would help me improve my job search and in my career!
Again, thank you. I really enjoyed meeting with you and the team.
What to Leave Out of Your Feedback Request
Asking for feedback after a job rejection is courageous. However, unlike the thank-you note you send after an interview, this is not the time to reiterate why the employer should hire you.
Accept your rejection with professionalism and grace, and make sure to avoid the following when asking for feedback:
- Trying to get the employer to change their mind
- Being obnoxious, condescending, or argumentative
- Acting desperate (“I really need this job, so please reconsider!”)
- Arguing with the feedback
- Explaining why the company is wrong for not hiring you
If You Don’t Hear Back
Many companies have a blanket policy that they do not give feedback after interviews even when an applicant asks for it. While this policy usually exists for legal reasons, some employers are simply too busy to give you feedback or don’t want to risk upsetting applicants.
The reality is that you likely won’t hear back from an employer should you ask for feedback. If you don’t hear anything after a week, forget about the request and move on to the next opportunity!
Learn and Grow
If you’re fortunate enough to get feedback from a job that rejected you, listen with an open mind! Don’t try to sway the interviewer. Instead, learn from the information, use it wisely, and integrate it into your performance going forward.
Don't forget to share this article with friends!