January 5, 2016

4 Clever Ways to Get Interview Feedback From Unresponsive Employers

WindowWe always encourage our readers to obtain interview feedback after failed job applications – no matter how painful that might be. Why? Because when you put aside the negative emotions it might rouse in you, interview feedback can show you where you can make improvements to your interview technique, which will increase your chance of getting hired the next time around.

Acquiring and analyzing interview feedback should be a vital part of every job seeker’s job hunt. The problem, though, is that employers don’t always make it easy to get ahold of this much-needed feedback. According to a recent CareerBuilder survey, only 27 percent of candidates say that employers have explained to them why they were rejected. Furthermore, only 14 percent of candidates feel that employers have been responsive to them.

Overall, it seems to most job seekers are have a really rough time accessing the interview feedback that can help them become better, more hireable candidates.

All hope is not lost, however. You just need the right moves to extract feedback from even the most tightlipped of employers. Below, we offer four technique you might want to use. We can’t guarantee they’ll work all of the time, but they should make most employers more willing to offer the feedback you’re seeking.

1. Ask for Feedback During the Interview

Because so many employers simply stop responding to candidates once they’re out the door and off the shortlist, it’s vital that you make the most of any face-to-face contact you have with them. Therefore, the perfect time to ask for interview feedback is during the interview itself.

Once the interviewer has asked if you have any questions, you can use the opportunity to ask questions pertaining to your performance in the interview. The interviewer probably won’t be expecting this, which means their answers will be less rehearsed and more honest.

If you find the interviewer is reticent or flustered, steer the conversation by asking some of the following questions:

  1. What is my biggest strength as a candidate?
  2. Do you have any concerns about my application? I might be able to allay them right now.
  3. What stood out about my application? Why did you invite me to interview?
  4. Do I have any shortcomings that you see as a deal-breaker?
  5. What skills am I lacking?
  6. How do you feel I have performed during this interview?

2. During the Arrow KeysInterview, Ask for the Name and Contact Information of Someone Who Can Supply Feedback Later

If you are unable to get feedback during the interview for whatever reason, a good backup plan is to ask for a named contact who you can get interview feedback from later. You are, of course, much more likely to get a response if you send you query to the right person.

3. Pick Up the Phone

The CareerBuilder research mentioned above found that 10 percent of employers have a policy of not providing feedback and 47 percent say they really don’t have the time to do it. One way to get around these two obstacles is to simply phone the hiring manager.

Not only is it less time-consuming for the hiring manager to respond verbally, but it also puts them at ease. Many hiring managers are more comfortable with the idea of giving “unofficial” feedback over the phone than they are with the idea of putting anything in writing.

4. Ask Non-Threatening Questions

There is no harm in writing to an employer to request feedback, either by email or the traditional post. However, if you ask something like “Why didn’t I get the job?” the employer may feel you are being too direct. As a result, they may just toss your message in the trash.

Make it easier for the employer to give feedback by asking some simple, diplomatic, and non-threatening questions, like “What are my strengths as a candidate?” and “What areas do I need to improve in to be a great candidate?”

These questions have a positive focus, and the recipient will likely feel fairly comfortable with answering them as a result. At the same time, these questions aren’t so accommodating that the employer can just give you some vague answers; you’ll still get good, actionableLeaf feedback.

Interview feedback is a vital tool for helping you improve your performance as a candidate. While most employers cannot or will not provide feedback on a mass scale to all applicants, many can be convinced to provide it on a case-by-case basis. Just adopt the right approach, using the tactics we’ve outlined here.

Read more in Job Applications

Kazim Ladimeji is a Chartered Member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, and has been a practicing HR professional for 14 years. Kazim is the Director of The Career Cafe: a resource for start-ups, small business and job seekers.