Asking for Feedback
Imagine leaving the interview with a report on how you did and where there were some concerns. Not in this lifetime! You’re not asking for a lot. You would just like to hear how you did – where you are lacking, or how you could improve your skills for your next interview. But, you may find it difficult to get a straight answer. The standard notification is something like, “We have identified a candidate (or several candidates) with experience that more closely matches our current staffing needs.” What was it about those other candidates that matched so closely? Will they tell you?
You Can Always Ask
The answer is always, “No,” unless you ask the question. Most HR departments have policies against giving out interview information. They fear claims of discrimination if a candidate misinterprets the feedback. But, every once in a while, you will get lucky and find someone who is willing to give you a break. They might be willing to tell you something that is quite revealing. One candidate for a sales job was told she did not shake hands with the panel upon completion of her interview, and that was held against her performance.
If you draw enough courage to make that call and ask for feedback, be prepared to hear things that could be upsetting. One candidate was told, “We didn’t think your personality type would fit with our culture.” She was quite taken back by that comment and felt as though there was something wrong with her personality.
Another reaction you might experience is one of defensiveness. “But, I have had the necessary experience you were seeking,” one candidate argued. The conversation was brought to an end in a hurry. The decision has been made – learn and let go.
Handling a response
If you do get someone willing to take a risk and give you pointers there are some basic rules to follow.
– Be sure to relay your disappointment in not getting the offer. And, state that you would be interested if anything were to open up. Tell them that this company is still your #1 choice.
– Ask, politely, if there is any feedback that would bring light as to what you can do to improve your chances in your next interview. Was there anything, in particular that could have helped your chances of being the “chosen” candidate?
– If you do receive feedback, listen carefully, and take notes to refer to later. Do not argue or defend yourself. You are asking for feedback, not a chance for a rebuttal.
– Ask one or two follow up questions, and end the conversation.
– Thank your interviewer for the feedback and the chance to improve your skills. Reiterate, if another opening comes up, you would be very interested in being kept in mind.
– Take the advice given and think about changing some of your techniques to improve on your next interview.
If you cannot get feedback, rate your own performance. If you feel you could improve your performance, practice and prepare so that you can go into the interview with renewed confidence. Preparation will give you more confidence to give a better performance. You can learn and improve from every interview experience, whether or not you receive feedback.