Find Out Why You Didn't Get the Job
It’s brutal. You thought you nailed the interview, answered all the questions completely, asked good follow-up questions and left feeling confident you got the job. Later, you get the dreaded email, telling you the company has selected a different candidate. What went wrong?
You really owe it to yourself to find out, if you can. The HR Manager is unlikely to be really specific, fearing a potential lawsuit. They’re worried that the rejection can be construed as being based on gender, race, disability or religious background. Also, the interviewer may feel that you’re challenging his/her decision in not hiring you. So, what do you do if you want to learn why you were turned down and try to use those insights to become a stronger candidate going forward?
Here are some tips to strategically ask for feedback:
- Be sure to send a thank you note to the interviewer (even though you’ve been rejected) to express your appreciation for their time and attention. This will open the door for your request for feedback.
- Ask yourself some questions. What would you do differently if you could do it over? Are you missing some required qualifications for this job? How much experience is really needed? Did you sincerely convey your interest in the company? Did you answer the questions completely? This will guide you with what to ask the manager in your request for feedback.
- Try reaching out directly to the person you would’ve been working for… not the HR folks. If you don’t have that contact info, try to obtain it through proper channels and not just skim it off their LinkedIn Profile or Google. The manager may not take kindly to you blind-siding them without notice.
- When you do reach out to the manager, be sure you’re writing to them with a grateful attitude. Don’t be demanding. If you can explain that you’d like to know if you’re missing some key experience or what skills you need to expand on to become a successful candidate going forward, they won’t feel defensive. Keep your request short and to the point with a few specific questions that you’d like them to respond to. Just saying “why didn’t I get the job” isn’t going to work.
- Make sure you’re asking for “feedback” about how you can improve. This isn’t the time or place to be bitter or resentful… stay positive. People are generally willing to help if you approach this as a personal growth request.
- If you don’t hear back right away, don’t pester him/her. It’s possible that they can’t really express why someone else is a better fit or define why they have a better feel for another candidate. It may also take some time to really provide a thoughtful response. If you never hear back, it’s not personal. Keep looking and let it go.
- If you do speak with the manager and get feedback, you should let them know that you will apply what they’ve told you and you’d be open to applying again if something should open up. Then keep in touch and consider them a networking contact. Who knows…maybe their first choice won’t work out or will leave and they may consider you, or they may know someone else who is looking for a candidate just like you.
Finally, bear in mind that there could be more positive reasons you didn’t get the job. Maybe you’re already making more money than this job offers or you’re over-qualified in terms of education and/or experience. It’s possible this job really isn’t a good fit for you and you’d be unhappy or bored with it. Take heart and move on.