How to Get Interview Feedback
Feedback is something we can all strive for. Constructive feedback can help you understand your performance and areas to improve for better outcomes in the future. In interviews, we want to know where it went wrong and how to fix it, so we don't keep making the same mistakes and missing opportunities. In this article, I’m taking you behind the scenes to share why feedback is hard to come by and what you can do to overcome this issue moving forward.
Why Recruiters Won't Give Feedback
First and foremost, employers are certainly looking to protect themselves legally. They don't want to open the door for any potential lawsuits or end up creating challenges to decisions that they're making that could be construed as being discriminatory against someone. If they make a statement as to why they didn't hire you, they may or may not be exposing themselves to the potential for lawsuits. Legal concerns are likely the number one reason why recruiters don't give feedback regularly.
Another issue is simply time. Even if there's not any legal mumbo jumbo going on, it could just be that recruiters don't have enough time to get back to everybody. I find this to be more of an excuse rather than a real reason, but it does become a problem when there is a limited amount of time in the day. Typically, when I have called people to give feedback, they tend to become longer conversations because people then want to try and change my mind. In this case, time does become a bigger issue than simply saying, "Hey, here's the reason why."
Lack of Training
The third and final reason why recruiters won’t offer feedback is simply a lack of training. Some recruiters are really uncomfortable sharing why you weren't selected. There is a lack of training on how to have the conversation, how to give feedback constructively, and how to maintain boundaries around their decision not to hire you.
Ways You Can Request Feedback
Let’s discuss ways to tackle the problem.
Reach Out to an Internal Contact
One way to tackle this problem is to go to your internal contacts at the company for the real story. Oftentimes you'll hear all kinds of things as to why the decision was made, and many times it's completely out of your control, so it's not even something you did wrong.
Ask for Feedback
Another action I recommend is asking for feedback at the end of your interview. You can take the opportunity at the end of the interview to ask, “Is there anything we discussed today that leaves you with questions about my fit for the role?” Take this feedback and address it on the spot. If you can’t address it then and there, send a follow-up email to address the concern after the interview.
The third way is to self-assess. When you finish your interview, go ahead and start taking some notes. What felt really good as you were talking through it? What didn't feel so good? Take some notes, figure out what you've learned, and then apply it next time.
When I'm self-assessing an interview, one of the things that I look back on is, did they picture me in the role and talk about that? Were they saying “when” this happens, rather than, “if” this happens? Were they saying, “When you're in the role, it will look like X, Y, and Z.” or were they saying, “If we choose you, it will be X, Y, and Z?” Look for the word “when” versus the word “if”.
Cues to Look For During Interviews
There are many verbal and nonverbal cues during the interview process that can shed some light on how well the interview is going. Here are a few of the main ones:
- Does the interviewer take the time to show you around?
During in-person interviews, it’s customary for the interviewer to take the time to introduce you to other people on the team or give you a tour of the building. These actions demonstrate they are interested in you. Keep an eye out for these cues.
- How does the interview end?
Pay attention to how the interviewer ends your conversation. Are they specific about next steps? Are they telling you when you should expect to hear something, or are you having to pull the information out of them?
If they're volunteering information, that's a really great sign. Maybe they'll say, "We're going to make a decision within the next week." This tells me they are specific on the timeline but not the next steps. If you hear, "We'll make the decision in the next week, and you will get a phone call from so-and-so," that's getting really specific. This tells me that there’s a good chance that you’ve made a positive impression. If they're simply saying, "We have other candidates to look at and we'll let you know," that's not specific at all. Look at how they talk about the next steps with you. The more specific the better.
If you walk away from the interview without a clear idea of the next steps, even after you've asked, then that's probably an indication that the interview did not go as well as you might have hoped. Make some notes on what you can do differently next time. Jot down any questions where you felt unsure of your answer and practice before your next interview.
Reflect and Move Forward
Ultimately, it’s important to trust your gut. Oftentimes, people have a gut feeling about how something went and it’s usually trustworthy.
When you finish an interview, take a moment to see how you feel about it. Note any learnings that you had from the conversation. During this exercise, you may come up with thoughts like, "I wish I would've mentioned...” That's something you could potentially address in a thank you note or the next time you get to talk to them.
Regardless of how you think an interview went, take time afterward to reflect on what happened and how you feel about it. What's your gut feeling? What did you learn? What do you want to do differently next time? Do you still feel excited about this job opportunity? Use this information to help you determine how to move forward.
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