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career, interviewing, job search

Do you ask for feedback after interviews? Here’s why you should.

How many of you have interviewed for a new job in the past 5 years?

If you didn’t get the job, do you know why? What could you do to make yourself The Right Candidate?

I am always surprised at how few candidates actively request constructive feedback after an interview loop. I know it can be difficult to hear you didn’t get a job (or didn’t even get to the second round of interviews). It can be a blow to your aspirations, your hopes, your ego. And the prospect of then asking for why you weren’t selected–well, that can seem like insult on injury.

But you should always ask for feedback. It’s a feedback loop that is invaluable. Think of it as a gift someone is giving you for free that will help you become The Right Candidate. If you actively seek out feedback, really process it, and take action on improving your skills/experience/interview technique/etc–you will be able to leap high enough to grab that brass ring job the next time it appears.

Here’s a case in point: I recently received an email from a candidate I spoke with about a position nearly a year ago. At the time, we had discussed her resume and she’d asked for feedback as to where she might have a skills or experience gap. I provided her with feedback on what types of experience might make her a more qualified candidate for this type of role in the future. As a recruiter, it’s not uncommon to have these types of exchanges–and it’s extremely rare to hear from the candidate again beyond  “Thank you for the input”.

Imagine my surprise, then, when I received the following nearly a year later:

Hello Jon – I hope this email finds you doing well.  I just wanted to let you know I took to heart your suggestions and I have been supporting the executive team of a local non-profit for nearly a year.  You were correct, there are many complexities to supporting true C-level executives.  I now have the missing piece to compete for those positions of higher responsibility and challenge.”

(Note: I requested and received permission to use this email excerpt from the prior candidate.)

The email above exemplifies Doing It Right when it comes to constructive job search feedback.

  • She asked for feedback. Again, very few job seekers take advantage of this massively important opportunity.
  • She thought about that feedback, and took action. Instead of dismissing it, she chose to seek out a new career opportunity that gave her the opportunity to gain the missing experience (supporting C-level executives in an Exec Admin role).
  • She followed up. It’s even more rare that a former job seeker will do this. It demonstrates their continued interest in both development of themselves professionally and of us as a potential future employer.

Guess who I’ll remember the next time I have an EA search open up?

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