How To Get Honest Feedback From A Failed Interview
By Peggy McKee
As a general rule, we can and should learn from our failures—that includes interviews. As a recruiter, I have always been impressed with candidates who ask me for honest feedback about their strengths and weaknesses. However, when it comes to giving feedback about how a candidate performed in the interview, it can become tricky, both for recruiters and hiring managers.
In one of our group coaching calls in Career Confidential’s Total Access Coaching club, a member asked about what you can do if the hiring manager won’t tell you what you did wrong, because of liability issues. How can you find out what the problems were so you can correct them next time?
This is what I told him:
Most people will never tell you how you failed because they’ve had bad things happen when they gave honest feedback. Recruiters have had candidates go back to the hiring manager to argue their case, or argue with the recruiter about it. I once told a candidate that the reason she didn’t get the job was that the hiring manger thought she was too negative, and so then she got into an argument with me about why she wasn’t negative. Nothing she said helped her. She HAD been negative, and it wasn’t up for debate. The decision was up to that hiring manager, and it was done. The only thing she achieved from that argument was irritating me.
Still, some recruiters or hiring managers will tell you—and you never know until you ask. (BTW: HR will never tell you. Don’t even bother asking.)
Here’s the key: They will be more likely to tell you IF you clearly and sincerely let them off the hook. Clearly communicate that you understand that you’re done—you are not going to be hired, no matter what they say or what you say. Some ways to do this are:
- “I understand that you’re hiring someone else, and that’s OK. So that I can be better going forward in future interviews, can you please tell me one or two things I could do differently that would help me be more successful?”
- “I understand that we are done with this process and you’re moving forward with someone else. But, if I were your sister or your cousin, what advice would you give me for next time?”
The recruiter or hiring manager may try to soften the blow by couching their criticism in softer language: “Well, I would maybe suggest that you review [some interview topic].” (Definitely review whatever they suggested before you interview again.) Or, “It might do you some good to have someone check your references.” If they say something like this to you, read between the lines and realize that at least one of your references probably caused you to lose out on the job.
Whatever they tell you, please realize that they’ve done you a great favor. They didn’t have to say anything. Take their advice with gratitude and take active steps to improve moving forward.
If you want to make sure you don’t fail your interviews in the first place, I strongly suggest learning as much as you can from Career Confidential’s array of job-winning advice, tips, and tools. Click here to see what’s available (and see customer reviews): Job Search and Interview Tools..
This post was originally published at an earlier date.
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