3 Tips for Getting Job Interview Feedback After a Rejection

Ryan Morris
by Ryan Morris
Get The Job - 3 years ago

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How do you get someone to talk to you after they’ve already rejected you?

The question is a little uncouth, but it’s one that many job candidates find themselves asking after the place they’ve applied to “decides to go in a different direction,” which is to say, any direction that doesn’t lead to you.

Finding out why a company has turned you down can be an excellent learning experience for those on the job hunt, but asking for that kind of feedback can sometimes be a social minefield.

It can be embarrassing to put yourself in such a vulnerable place, not to mention the fact that hiring managers guard their secrets jealously. If they somehow do send you an email with any real answers in it, they will remotely detonate your computer as a security measure as soon as you finish reading it.

“Got another one, boys. This one asked Amazon how his resume should have been formatted.”

To that end, here are a few tips from the Zippia team to help you figure out the best way to ask for feedback while avoiding an untimely demise.


1. Asking for Feedback after Interview Rejection: Some Things to Consider First

Before you send the email — and it ought to be an email, as we’ll go over in a second — there’s a few big things to consider before you contact someone who rejected you:

Namely, do you really think they want to talk to you now?

And if they do, do you think it’s going to be the kind of substantive feedback you’re hoping for?

*Loudly* “Your application sucked.”

Keep in mind that…

  • Whether they’re a hiring manager or just some rando at a company, they’re probably too busy to give you substantive feedback on why they didn’t pick you.
  • The bigger they are, the more applications they probably received — it’s tough for them to justify responding to you when several others might have asked them for feedback as well.
  • Another reason you might be ignored is that many HR workers fear talking about the reasons why they didn’t hire someone in case that information could be used against them rejectees looking to sue.
  • Responding to rejected candidates might even be against company policy, in which case all you’re gonna get for asking will be barely-filled-in templated letter politely tell you to take a long walk off a short pier.

Lastly, if — against all odds — someone does respond to you, there’s a big chance they’ll just tell you something general like that you “weren’t the right fit” or that they “just went in a different direction.”

This kind of vague feedback is totally unhelpful to you and will end up just wasting yours and the HR workers’ time.

2. So Then How Should I Ask for Feedback After an Unsuccessful Application?

Again, the deck is stacked against you getting feedback at all, let alone good feedback, but if you’re set on trying, there are a few directives you should stick to.

  • First of all, it’s important to use email — it will give the HR worker the chance to respond when they have time for it, which not only makes it more likely they’ll respond but will get you better quality feedback.
  • Be as self-effacing as possible — don’t come off like you’re trying to argue about their decision, or they’ll just tune you out or ignore you.
  • Keep it short — you’ve already been rejected, so don’t make them read a novel just so that you can ask why they didn’t want you.
  • And once again, as soon as you do get a response, remember to skim it as fast as you can before immediately running far, far away from your now-exploding desktop.

Really can’t stress this point enough.

3. Requesting Interview Feedback: Email Sample

So what does this kind of response look like? Keep these points in mind as you draft your email:

  • Start off by thanking them for their time and the opportunity.
  • Express that not getting the job was a letdown, but do so graciously — make sure you don’t sound like you’re whining or disagreeing with their decision.
  • End the letter by asking for feedback, and if you can, mention that you’re looking for specific feedback — it might prompt them to be a little less general.

Here’s an example of an excellent letter:

Dear Ms. Coolname,

It was nice talking to you last week about the Personal Bodyguard of Ronald McDonald position at McDonald’s corporate headquarters.

I’m sad to hear that you went with a different candidate, but I wanted to thank you for taking the time to talk to me and giving me the opportunity to put my name in the running. I’m still very interested in the company, so I hope you’ll keep my name in mind for any future openings.

In the hopes of having a better shot at the next opportunity with your company, I was wondering if you had any specific feedback about my application that you’d be willing to share with me?

Thanks again, and all best,
Shrek T. Ohgher

I can’t legally put an image of Shrek or Ronald McDonald here, so here’s my all time second favorite stock photo instead.

Wrapping Up: Asking for Feedback After Interview Rejection

By this point, you should have a pretty good idea of how to approach asking a hiring manager about feedback:

Namely, that you probably shouldn’t do it, because you likely won’t get anything useful.

But if you really want to try anyway, just do everything you can to thank them and to seem like you aren’t trying to challenge their decision-making.

This one’s my favorite stock photo ever and also how I picture anyone I send an email to so I remember to be nice to them.

And this should go without saying, but if someone does take the time to actually respond to you in a substantive way, make sure to actually take the opportunity to, ya know, listen to what they have to say.

Then make sure you run. Fast.

Best of luck! Here are some other links to help you on your way:

12 Reasons You’re Not Getting Hired
13 Job Interview Etiquette Tips to Help You Land a Job
15 Things to Avoid Putting on Your Resume

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