How to ask for interview feedback and what to do with it once you have it

Going for an interview can be a very daunting experience for some. Sweaty palms, shaky hands, the nerves kick in and you lose your words. Most of the time, it can feel like the world is closing in on you, but things are never what they seem. Sure, you may not have articulated your responses the way you would have hoped, but that doesn’t mean the hiring manager didn’t pass on you for that very reason.

There can be several contributing factors in the decision-making process for a hiring manager. It’s all about how you ask for feedback that will help you improve your responses and manner in the next interview. It’s a learning process! I’ve put together a few tips to help you figure out if, when and how you should ask for feedback after an interview.

First, decide if feedback is what you really want.

After an interview, you can sometimes feel like the job wasn’t what you had in mind, or, you might feel like there’s an even better opportunity for you somewhere else. If that’s the case, I would suggest not taking the effort to ask for feedback, as your responses might have been different to what they would have been if you really did want the job.

Have a good think about if it’s worth asking for feedback before you ask for it. Ask yourself things like; was the interview a success in your eyes? Do you really want the job? Do you think you’re going to be a great fit for the company? If you answered yes to all these questions, then feedback is key to finding out why they decided not to take you on board.

Now that I know I want feedback; how do I ask for it?

The way in which you ask for feedback is important. You don’t want to come across as being defensive and you certainly don’t want to seem bitter about things not going your way. Whether asking your recruiter or going directly to the hiring manager you interviewed with, explain that you appreciated the time they gave you during the interview and thank them for the opportunity they gave you to meet with them. By doing this, you’re showing that you are open to listening and working on improving yourself and who knows, down the track that could lead to another opportunity to meet/work with the company.

The following tips apply to seeking feedback via email or phone. Remember to keep in mind that not everyone likes to give feedback, so if you’ve given these tips a good go but don’t hear back, it might be worth letting it go and not following up.

  1. Thank them for letting you know their decision (a lot of companies don’t even give you the courtesy of that!).
  2. Explain to them that you are always wanting to improve yourself in your career and job search.
  3. Ask them if there was anything in particular, maybe a specific experience, that they felt was lacking, or something you could do differently to present yourself as a candidate in future interviews.
  4. If you’re sending an email, end the email by telling them you’d appreciate any feedback they can give and thank them again for their time.
  5. If you’re receiving feedback over the phone, take notes and give them time to answer.

Digesting the feedback

When you’re receiving feedback, especially over the phone, it’s important to remain calm and be open to what is being said to you. If you get defensive or become critical, it can be detrimental to your chances in meeting with the company again for potential future opportunities. If you want them to elaborate a little more on certain points, try using phrases like “that’s interesting feedback…”, or, “in that instance, do you think that…”.

End the conversation with a polite “thank you” and see if they would be open to letting you know if there’s anything you could do in the future to improve your chances next time. Always follow up the call with a thank you email!

Obtaining feedback in other ways

If you’re finding that you’re being knocked back after a couple of interviews, it might be worth doing a practice run interview with a past colleague, mentor, or even recruitment consultant. This is a good opportunity for these people closer to you, to give you open and honest feedback that you might not necessarily get from a hiring manager.

The team at ACM Healthcare are always here to support you through the interview process, including the feedback round. If you would like advice or assistance with preparing for an interview or gathering feedback, please don’t hesitate to contact me at lem@acmhealthcare.com.au