How and When to Ask for Job Search Feedback

by | May 31, 2022 | Interviewing

A common frustration of job seekers who have received some rejection during their search, is the lack of feedback received during the process. Infrequently, however, does a job seeker seek out feedback from the Hiring Manager or Recruiter, either during or after hearing that they will not be selected for the position.

People tend to do what is in their individual best interest. For a Hiring Manager, providing feedback to a job seeker who they have delivered disappointing news to is hardly an ideal situation. If they can provide only a cursory reason for you not being selected or nothing at all, then the latter is the path most likely taken.

Let’s take a moment to understand why an employer may be reluctant to provide you feedback, especially when you don’t explicitly ask for this information. First of all, we are in a litigious country and New York adds an extra layer of legal concern to a company. In other words, a Hiring Manager is fearful that anything that they may say will be used against them in a lawsuit, even if the reason is benign (such as they found someone who had 3 years more experience and with a direct competitor). Also, providing feedback when a person just found out they did not receive a position they were seeking can result in an emotional response. Imagine a Hiring Manager having to face that with several candidates who were not selected, and you can see why not everyone is forthcoming.

There is some strategy to seeking out job seeking feedback. Below are some items for you to consider.

• Don’t Just Wait to the End: Why not ask for feedback throughout the process? This will allow you to adjust accordingly during the recruitment. It also prepares the Hiring Manager that you are someone who wants to receive in-the-moment feedback and will accept it well. So, if you are not selected, it feels somewhat natural to have the closing conversation for final feedback.

• Be Respectful and Disarming: Frame your request for feedback very clearly. Be sure to communicate that you would like to improve in order to be a better candidate next time. Take away any concern that the Hiring Manager may have that you are “fishing” for something that will be used against them.

• Accept It Professionally: You asked for the feedback, so accept it as a point of valuable information. Do not get upset or emotional, even though it can be challenging to hear when you have not done something well or have not measured up. Also, do not start debating the Hiring Manager. If you need to ask a clarifying question then do it, but do not get defensive with this person who is trying to help you.

• Get Sufficient Detail: Now you are not there to be an investigative reporter, but it is important that you leave the conversation with some type of actionable feedback. A Hiring Manager may likely try to respond to your request for feedback by providing a general response, such as “you were a great candidate, but we found someone who better met our needs.” If you receive a response such as noted above, then try to follow-up with a probing question like “What could I have done to have better met your needs?”

• Do Something About It: If you went through all the effort to receive specific and actionable feedback, then it is imperative that you self-reflect and determine if you should make an adjustment. If you have a friend or family member that has been collaborating with you on your job search, then ask them for their reaction to the information. Keep in mind that you are looking to adjust if the feedback is something that is more universal in nature and not tied specifically to that company or position. Most likely any feedback you do receive, if you made it far into the process, will not be on your Cover Letter or Resume format. This is because both documents were good enough to get you an interview and deeper consideration. The feedback will likely be on your interview or your overall qualifications (perhaps you are missing a “nice to have” skill or certification).

Feedback is a gift that, when delivered and received well, allows a person to improve. While it certainly helps to have someone else review your resume or role-play your interview with you in order to obtain guidance, there is nothing like receiving feedback from a Hiring Manager. The key is to respectfully ask for the feedback (and gently probe if not detailed enough) while maintaining your professional demeanor. Finally, review your job search and determine how you can use this feedback to modify it for ultimate success.

As always, the best of luck in your job search.

The following has been prepared for the general information of WNYJobs readers. It is not meant to provide advice with respect to any specific legal or policy matter and should not be acted upon without verification by the reader.

Joe Stein WNY Human Resources Professional

Feel free to contact Joe Stein regarding questions or comments at: Joe Stein

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