by Kate Jones
It can be frustrating and upsetting to get turned down for a job you really wanted. You’re left wondering what you did wrong – was it your outfit? Something you said? Something you didn’t say? You replay the interview over and over again until you think you’ve got it figured out.
But there is an easier way to discover what went wrong; ask for feedback. When approached in the right way, the people who sat on the other side of the table can provide an abundance of insights into your performance, including pointers on how you can improve for next time. Sure, some of it might be hard to hear, but consider the learning opportunity you’ll be passing up by ignoring your mistakes.
While feedback for improvement is clearly a huge benefit in itself, it’s far from the only one. If the company or department you were hoping to work for recruits again in the future, they are more likely to remember the candidate who was willing to learn and grow than the one who wasn’t. Equally, by asking what prevented you from securing the job first time around, you put yourself in a great position for applying again. This could happen sooner than you think; one report by Harvard Business Review showed that 33% of new hires look for a new job within their first six months, meaning the job could reopen quickly.
How to get the most out of feedback.
So you’ve made the decision to ask for feedback so that you can improve your interview technique for next time.
Where do you start?
The first thing to remember is that interviewers are just people. They are just as concerned as the rest of us about hurting other people’s feelings or saying the wrong thing, and the thought of potentially further upsetting an already angry candidate could be enough to put them off responding to a feedback request honestly. They might even be worried about discrimination claims. The key is to tread gently – ask for feedback in a way that is constructive, non-threatening and clarifies your desire to learn. Take their lead on the delivery method – if they feel more comfortable talking to you over the phone, where they might feel more at liberty to express their views, be accommodating.
What questions should you ask?
Before you approach the interviewer, some self-assessment can come in handy. How do you think the interview went? Was there anything you would do differently given the chance to interview again? Answering these questions gives you the opportunity to look for discrepancies between your experience and the perceptions of the interviewer.
When approaching the interviewer, make sure you ask specific questions that will lead you to the information you need. “Why wasn’t I chosen for the role?” is too broad and could be perceived as confrontational. Instead, turn the tables and approach the conversation as if you are interviewing them. Direct the questions towards the future – how you could place yourself in a better position for next time – rather than focusing everything on the interview itself. Here are some great questions to get you started:
- Were there any key qualifications or experiences that you felt were missing from my resume?
- If this position were to reopen in the future, which skills do you suggest I would need to strengthen in order for you to consider my re-application?
- What one thing could I change about my interviewing technique that would help me to improve my performance?
Rejection is a hard thing to swallow, and difficult to view in a positive light. But by reframing the situation as an opportunity for learning, it’s possible to gather insights into your performance that will allow you to ace your next interview.
Kate Jones writes for Inspiring Interns, which specialises in finding candidates their perfect internship. To browse their graduate jobs London listings, visit the website.
Editors Note: This is not a sponsored post – thanks to the folks at Inspiring Interns for the helpful tips – Karen
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