Getting turned down for a job can be disheartening at the best of times and downright devastating at the worst.
Rejection is particularly frustrating if it comes after you went to the trouble of attending a job interview - making it to the very end of the process only to fall at final hurdle can be a bitter pill to swallow.
That being said, life is a never-ending learning experience, and there can be victory in defeat - even when it comes to not getting the job.
Why ask for feedback after interview rejection?
Swallowing your pride and asking 'why?' takes real bravery. After all, you bared your soul in the interview, attempted to sell yourself based on your best qualities, and got turned down all the same – it's hard not to take that personally.
Surely asking your rejectors to elaborate on their decision is akin to asking an ex why they decided to dump you in favour of someone else?
Well, luckily, it needn't be quite as fraught an experience as that.
The benefits of asking for feedback after a job interview
Asking for feedback after a job interview can actually be very helpful on a number of levels. While it may seem like you're willingly rubbing salt into your own unemployable wounds, there are a variety of benefits to be had:
Discover what worked (and what didn't)
Knowing what went well and what didn't can be a great way to streamline your approach to future job applications, and identifying key areas that are in need of improvement can help you to fill in any gaps in your interview game.
If you knocked it out of the park with your presentation skills but struggled to answer their questions about the business, you know to do more revision next time. On the other hand, if you lacked a skill that the other candidate had, you may want to look into mastering that skill for yourself.
It may not even have had anything to do with your skills at all: it could have been a single throwaway comment that irked the interviewer, or the fact you'd neglected to shave that morning. Either way, clarity can help you right your wrongs and ensure lightning doesn't strike twice.
Learn something new
Thorough feedback is frequently helpful, but sometimes, it can be outright enlightening.
From body language to bad habits, asking for comments on your interview performance could lead you to find out something new about yourself that you didn't know about before. This will allow you to work on yourself if necessary.
Whether it's unconsciously doodling on your notepad, not maintaining eye contact out of sheer nerves, or simply seeming disinterested in an attempt to present yourself as calm, brutally honest feedback can make for great constructive criticism.
Find out what they want
Interviewer feedback can be a great way to gauge exactly what employers are looking for (and then make sure you present it in future interviews).
If your interviewer informs you that you seemed too brash and self-assertive, try to reign it in a bit next time. If your suit was too loud, tone it down in future. If your handshake was too weak, train up those forearms!
Whatever feedback you are given is a peek behind the curtain at what other employers are likely to be looking for too, so take note and be sure to tick those boxes on your next attempt.
Leave the door open
A willingness to learn and better yourself is a great trait to have. Actively seeking ways to improve yourself can leave a lasting impression on a potential employer.
If this is a company you really want to work for or a vacancy you are hoping will crop up again, asking for feedback in a polite and grateful manner could leave the door open to future opportunities.
You never know - the successful candidate may not last, and a positive parting of ways now could leave you first in line for a call-up.
How to ask for feedback after an interview
While the setback of job rejection can leave a fresh scar that's particularly tender to the touch, it's important to remain calm, level-headed, and - above all - courteous in your response. This is far easier to do via email, so if possible, go down the digital route rather than making a phone call.
That being said, there are a few things to keep in mind when you're responding to a rejection email. Firstly, remember that their mind is made up by this point and this isn't a window to make them reconsider. Instead, use your response as an opportunity to further endear yourself and leave them with a lasting positive impression.
Display your gratitude for the time they gave you and, if you do choose to relay your disappointment, be sure to do so in a manner that is friendly and reinforces your desire to hopefully work together in the future.
Employers are far more likely to respond to your request if a) you are genuine in your response, and b) you present yourself as a potential candidate for the future. The interviewers have already invested time in you throughout this process, and a positive farewell could still result in good things to come.
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