You will not be offered every job that you are interviewed for. Another candidate may be better qualified or have more impressive experience. There may be an internal candidate waiting in the wings or the panel may simply prefer another applicant’s presentation. No matter the reason, hearing that you have been unsuccessful can sting. When the standard rejection letter lands on your mat or hits your inbox you may be tempted to put the interview behind you and forget about it. But don’t be too hasty. Unsuccessful interviews can provide valuable learning that will help you in the future.
Rather than feeling sorry for yourself or getting mad at the company for not choosing to hire you, consider asking for feedback on your interview to find out where you can improve. Most companies will provide feedback on your interview if you request it. Send a follow up email after interview to the interviewer or HR department asking if they can provide you with feedback because you want to learn and improve.
Many companies provide post-interview feedback verbally, because they are wary about committing to writing the reasons for rejecting a candidate. If you receive feedback in a telephone call, take the opportunity to ask clarifying questions to be certain that you understand how you can improve. However, you should take care not to enter in to a debate with the person providing the feedback. Your goal in this conversation is not to try to change their mind. Listen respectfully and only ask questions to clarify what you are being told.
Feedback may cover the way you present yourself, including body language and ability to articulate your answers. It may also cover the content of the interview, such as the examples you used to illustrate your answers. It may also give you an indication of any skills, qualifications, or experience that you lack.
When you are receiving feedback, it will not necessarily paint an accurate picture of you as a job candidate. You must accept that this is the view that the interview panel has formed, based on the information you provided during your interview. If you think it is not a true reflection of your skills and abilities, ask yourself how they may have got it so wrong. Have you not used the best examples from your work experience? Have you given the wrong impression in some way? The answers to these questions will help you to improve your employability in the future.
If the company initially refuses to provide feedback, be politely persistent. They have asked you to commit your time and energy to the recruitment process. It is then only fair that they give you a little of their time to help you to understand their decision. But don’t become a stalker. If you receive two refusals, chalk it up to experience and walk away. You want to be remembered as the candidate who was willing to learn, not the candidate who followed them home at nights.