How to Properly Ask for Feedback After Job Rejection

You’ve invested time and hope into an opportunity, and then you’re left wondering where things went wrong. Should you just move on? Or should you ask for feedback? It turns out, asking for feedback is not only okay but can be quite helpful – if done right. Here’s a guide crafted from the collective wisdom of various job seekers and hiring managers on how to go about it without making those common mistakes.

Reaching Out: The Initial Step

First things first, accept the reality: not every company will provide feedback. Some have policies against it due to concerns over potential lawsuits. Remember, this is not about challenging their decision but understanding how you can improve.

  • Thank them: Always start by expressing your gratitude for the opportunity and their time.
  • Be humble: Articulate that you’re seeking to improve and growth is your goal.
  • Be direct: Avoid coming across as offended or as if you’re begging.
  • Ask specifically: Inquire about any particular skills or experiences that were lacking, or areas you could present better in future interviews.

An example of how to phrase it:

Dear [Name],
Thank you for informing me of your decision. I’m always looking for ways to better my career path. If possible, could you share any insights into areas where I could improve, be it experience or interview presentation?
Best regards,
[Your Name]

Process and Tone

Your request should maintain a professional and respectful tone, even if you’re feeling down. Don’t lash out or vent; you’re asking for a favor, not demanding a right.

  • Choose the right medium: Email is typically best, as it’s not invasive and allows the recipient to respond at their leisure.
  • Accept silence: If they don’t respond, respect that and move forward.
  • Stay polite: Remember to thank them regardless of the outcome – politeness goes a long way.

Understand the Context

Be aware that there are many reasons for not being selected, and they might not always be about you. Discussions about salary expectations, culture fit, or even an internal candidate taking the role can affect the selection process.

  • It’s not personal: You might simply have been a runner-up to another equally or more qualified candidate.
  • Reflect on your own: Use rejections as opportunities to self-reflect and assess what you could adjust for the next opportunity.
  • Keep your cool: Stay composed during the feedback process. Companies appreciate maturity.

Consider the Possibilities

Remember, the feedback might be generic, or it might be candid. In some cases, companies avoid specific feedback to prevent potential discrimination lawsuits. But in either case, the feedback can still serve as a learning tool.

  • Be open to criticism: If you receive feedback, listen to it with an open mind and use it constructively for your future applications.
  • No feedback is also feedback: Silence might mean there’s nothing specific to improve upon; it might just not have been a match this time.
  • Keep trying: Job searching is a numbers game, and persistence is key.

After the Response

If you do get feedback, thank it, even if it’s not what you hoped to hear or if it feels off base. You asked for their honesty, so respect it. The worst-case scenario is they don’t reply, but you’ll never know unless you shoot your shot.

Use what you learn to refine your approach. The job hunt is exhaustive and often discouraging, but every rejection and every piece of feedback makes you a smarter candidate for the next opportunity.

“The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing.”

– Henry Ford

Final Thoughts

In the end, remember it’s okay to seek closure after a rejection, but also be prepared to continue your search with or without the feedback. Every interview is an experience, and whether you receive detailed feedback or not, you’re gaining valuable practice in advocating for yourself. Keep moving forward, and above all, remain hopeful. After all, the next opportunity might just around the corner, and the exercise of asking for feedback ensures you’re better prepared when it arrives.

Piotr Gacon