I am always asked by students, “Should we ask for feedback from the interview and assessment centres if we are unsuccessful?” The answer from me is a simple one, “Yes.”
Try to treat each application and interview as a valuable learning opportunity and aim to get feedback from the employer. Most people will find it daunting to ask why you were unsuitable, however this is valuable information you can use to improve and may help your success next time. Try to seek this feedback as soon as possible after the interview while it is fresh in the recruiter’s mind.
Few applicants request feedback and thereby miss a very valuable opportunity to gain an insight into their suitability for a role and a useful breakdown of their strengths and weaknesses. So ask for some tips about how you could improve your interview technique next time. Just one or two pointers could help you improve your performance.
To start with, thank the person for considering your application or for taking the time to interview you. Begin by saying something positive about the interview/application process. Remain positive and enthusiastic about the role; you may want to apply for the same role/organisation in the future so it’s important to create a positive impression.
You may want to say how disappointed you were as this was a position that you really wanted. Try to make it sound personal, not like this is just one out of many jobs you have applied for. Let them know that you would still be very interested if another position becomes available and again thank them for their feedback. Remaining enthusiastic here is the key, it goes a long way.
Gaining the greatest benefit from feedback involves listening carefully to the reply without being defensive or trying to ’explain’. Take the response on-board and reflect on it – you can decide later whether the information was constructive.
A few examples of useful feedback could be that you were speaking too much so that the interviewer couldn’t hear the right evidence or ask all the questions. Maybe you were a little on the reserved side, a little too assertive, or you made light of your strengths and what you’ve achieved. Perhaps you didn’t talk about your experience in a way that would excite the interviewer, establish a relationship with everyone in the room, or simply didn’t cover everything in the interviewer’s shortlist.
What you must do is try to use the advice, go back and re-jig your CV, re-word the application for the next role you are applying for and implement and changes in your interview technique that you need to – this should be done in your preparation and practice for the real thing.
Moving forward is nearly always about building on what works and not arbitrarily binning your best techniques. It’s also about learning from experience and getting a reality check about the first impression you create at the start of an interview, and the impression you leave at the end. Just doing the same thing over and over and hoping for a different result won’t help you; making small, positive changes could.
When you land that dream role, seeking feedback is an important skill for the workplace too. Being able to identify areas of concern and take action before they become problems will improve your chances of success in the workplace.