Interview feedback is an essential part of the journey for job seekers and can be instrumental in helping someone revise their approach so that they can go on to achieve their career aspirations. Despite this many employers, concerned about the implications of delivering bad news will shy away from giving an honest, constructive evaluation of performance and fall back on non-committal phrases such as ‘not as experienced as some of the other candidates’ or ‘too senior for the role’ to try and let people down gently.
Whilst it’s easy to appreciate the sentiment behind this kind of approach it’s largely ineffectual, as it fails to help the person understand what went wrong and how they can change things for the future.
If you’re a jobseeker experiencing the frustration that comes with vague or nondescript feedback, there are a few things you can do to gain a more genuine understanding of how you performed, starting by keeping the door open at the start of the interview process. Make a point of acknowledging the panel’s comments and views in relation to your skills and explain how useful it is for you to gain their professional opinion. At the end of the interview reiterate how much you value their input and ask them when you can expect to hear how things went. Hiring managers are far more likely to come back to you if timeframes have been agreed in person.
If for any reason you don’t hear within the parameters discussed, it’s more than acceptable to follow things up, either with a warm, professional phone call or email. Let the business know that you’re still engaged with the opportunity, but if you haven’t been successful you would find their honest, professional feedback really valuable.
When you do eventually get an update don’t be afraid to dig a little deeper if you feel the information you’ve been given lacks substance. Thank them for letting you know but also say how useful it would be to know the key areas where your skills were weaker than other applicants so that you can work on developing them. You could also ask them to feedback on your overall performance so that if there were any elements that weren’t up to scratch you can put some practice in before your next interview. Sometimes simple things such as body language or ability to articulate can influence the decision a hiring manager has to make and can be the difference between and an offer and a rejection
As specialist HR recruiters we place a high value on obtaining honest, constructive interview feedback for everyone we represent, but for anyone facing the HR job market without the support of a trusted recruitment partner it’s worth reminding potential employers how important and useful their feedback can be. On a similar note, if you’re the HR professional tasked with delivering some disappointing news to someone, don’t shy away from giving them your advice on how things could have been improved. Your input could be the reason they succeed in securing their next opportunity.
Founder and Director of HR Heads. Passionate about the innovative and successful recruitment of HR talent and creating strong, lasting networks built on trusted relationships. Industry specialist for the Hampshire region.
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