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Interview feedback: how to request it and how to use it

11/12/2017
Posted by: Tracy Bolan

After the interview: what went wrong?

If you are interviewed for a job that you really want and are unsuccessful, it can be very disheartening. It’s tempting to replay the interview in your head, trying to work out what went wrong. You weren’t late and had dressed smartly. You’d prepared by doing plenty of research into the role and employer. You thought the interviewer seemed happy with your answers. So, why did they to decide not to hire you and how can you avoid it happening again?

Why you should ask for interview feedback

Instead of guessing the answers to these questions, it’s important to ask for feedback so that you understand which area of your interview technique needs developing. Don’t just chalk it up to experience and simply keep applying elsewhere. Most of us have an unsuccessful interview at some point, and it isn’t a waste of time if you view the experience as one from which you can learn and develop. Try not to let it knock your confidence: feedback might highlight aspects that you wouldn’t have considered; being mindful of them could directly result in you securing the next job that you apply for.

How to ask for feedback

How you ask for feedback will depend on the way in which you find out that you have been unsuccessful. If your recruitment consultant gives you the news, spend some time discussing the interview with your consultant who will be able to pass on any feedback and offer you tips on how you can improve your technique.

If you are telephoned by the company, ask there and then; if they email you, reply within 24 hours so that the interview is still fresh in their mind. And how do you word the request? Always begin by thanking them for the opportunity to be interviewed. Whatever you do, don’t suggest that the employer made the wrong decision. This graciousness is important because you never know when you might have to deal with the interviewer or company again in the future.

Then, rather than asking ‘why didn’t I get the job?’ or ‘what did I do wrong?’ – both of which put the interviewer on the spot and sound rather defensive - ask if they would mind letting you know what you could do to improve next time. Which area do they think that you could develop most?

If you disagree with any feedback, don’t allow your feelings to get the better of you or protest. Instead, focus on moving forward with a new insight.

What to do with interview feedback

Some feedback will be very easy to address. For example, if you are told that you responded to a particular question in a way which lacked detail, you can prepare a more thorough response should the question arise again. Other feedback may require more thought. Could you film yourself responding to key questions and review the way that you come across? Do you have a friend or recruiter that could conduct a mock interview with you? Would more research into a company help next time? If you are given a number of areas where you could improve and it seems daunting, aim to address one or two key ones.

So, see interview feedback as invaluable positive guidance which helps you to develop the way that you present yourself professionally and, consequently, enables you to have a successful career.

For more job interview advice from the team, check out our other posts here.

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