Woman on a laptop at home

You didn’t get the job. Probably the last thing you want to do now is relive the horror of the failed interview and find out why they rejected you.

Unfortunately this is the best way to make progress in your job hunt and it’s an opportunity you won’t want to lose in the long term. So don’t be afraid to ask, what did I do wrong?



Interviewers know best

Recruitment experts are increasingly encouraging unsuccessful candidates to seek feedback from their interviewers, to find out where they went wrong, and how they could do better next time.

If this seems rather odd, it’s important to remember your interviewers have a great deal of experience in a sector you’re interested in, and they’ve just spent half an hour or so looking very closely at you.

By asking them for feedback you’re tapping into their perceptions of you, so you might be able to see for the first time what needs to be tweaked ,changed and improved in your interview performance.


How do you get feedback?

Although getting interview feedback is the way ahead, it’s not always easy. First you have to decide how you are going to broach the question. Who do you ask, and how?

The answer to this will depend largely on how the interview was set up in the first place. For example, you might already have struck up a micro-relationship with a member of their HR team through email exchanges or phone calls. Then again, if you appeared to get on well with one of the interview panel, approach them directly with a polite and carefully-worded request.

So once you know who you want to talk to, how do you contact them? Use whichever medium seems most natural. But if in doubt, opt for email as this is the least pushy way of approaching someone for this admittedly quite delicate request.

However you contact them, the important thing is never to seem aggrieved. If they interpret your request for feedback as a thinly-disguised complaint, (“why couldn’t you see how brilliant I am?”) - then you can forget not only the feedback, but also any hope of being considered by that organisation for another job in the future.


Will they reply?

What are you chances of getting feedback? Pretty good, if you go about it the right way. Although everyone these days can be very busy, it would be unwise of a true professional not to respond positively to a genuine and intelligently composed request for feedback.

Any company will know your paths might well cross again, so it’s in their to nurture talent – as well as to give a good impression to a potential future employee or even competitor. Some HR professionals are even being trained in how to provide useful (but also safe) feedback.

Don’t worry if your request is ignored though, one of the main reasons why you might not get feedback is because some employers are well aware of the legal pitfalls. They don’t give feedback simple because they don’t want to end up in a tribunal defending claims of discriminatory recruitment techniques.


Preparing for the answer

Once you’ve asked the question, you must brace yourself for the response. Remember to put on your thickest professional skin, as some of the feedback might be hurtful.

The feedback is likely to focus on your skills, but also on some of your failures to explain why you weren’t the best person for the job.

They might have detected slight gaps between your CV claims and the reality of your experience; they might even suggest your body language was awkward and made them doubt your confidence. Or they might have considered you over-confident.

Any one of these criticisms is not intended as a personal slight. They don’t want to insult you. Think of it is helpful advice, freely given, on which you can act , so the next time you face an interview panel, your performance will be better.

It’s important not to lose confidence when you get a job rejection, remember, just to get an interview is a big achievement these days.


Oh, and one last thing. When you get that helpful feedback, make sure you say thank you to whoever sent it, manners cost nothing.

Related articles:

What job can I do?

Our simple tool can help you
choose your next career move.
Give us five minutes and we’ll
identify the ideal role for you!



Need some interview advice?

Interview experts

The Interview Experts can help. Their DVD will teach you over 200 interview techniques to help you conquer nerves and stand out.

Get help from the Interview Experts 

What now?

Cover letters

Unfortunately, not everyone can win the job but you can make sure you're remembered in case anything else comes up... 

10 reasons for job interview rejection

Write a thank you letter

Remember, DON'T do this!

 Totaljobs to the rescue

It's Totaljobs.com to the rescue!

Interviews: funny, sad and just plain bad