“If I spend £22 to travel to your London office twice while I'm unemployed,” wrote an exasperated user of LinkedIn recently. “Please have the courtesy to at least give me a call, send me an email or even send a messenger pigeon to tell me that my interview was not successful.”
Unfortunately, it is all too common these days for interviewees to find themselves wondering whether their interview notes have disappeared into a black hole. The interview may have appeared to go quite well – but then you hear absolutely nothing back, beyond whether or not you got the job. And sometimes not even that!
Unfortunately, while standard HR policies will always have giving feedback as part of their process, your interviewer may often be a line manager, without formal interview training, and for whom interviewing is not part of their ‘day job’. With their very pressing, wider responsibilities often taking priority, your notes can quickly disappear under their pile of ‘need to do’ activities. It might be that the individual doing the recruiting is disorganised, has interviewed too many people to keep track of, or simply doesn’t understand that feedback is key, and hasn’t thought about taking time to do this.
So, what can you do to minimise the potential of this happening for you in the future.
Clarify the process early on
It’s always a good idea to raise it yourself as part of your overall interview process.
If you are dealing with an employer directly you could ask, as one of your closing questions at interview, what the process will be. Emphasise your interest in getting any feedback as to your overall interview performance if, for example, you haven’t had much interview experience before). If you are not successful, ask as well about any areas that the interviewers may feel are ‘development areas’. It’s a great opportunity to stress how keen you are on developing yourself and taking on board any advice to help you be successful in your chosen career.
This shows good self awareness and an interest in personal development. All great characteristics for a new employee! For an interviewer to hear how much you would value their input can also be flattering for them too, so may also encourage them to take extra interest in giving their feedback.
If you show a general lack of enthusiasm during the interview, the interviewer probably won’t be in too much of a rush to offer you feedback. They may feel that you won’t really care anyway, so why bother? You may really want the job and your lack of enthusiasm could be a sign of nervousness or even professional self-restraint, rather than disinterest, but it is worth doing a bit of self-analysis.
The interviewer wants to see that you are excited by the opportunity, so it is important to make this show during your interview.
Everyone is busy these days and quite often, interviews come and go so quickly that the interviewers completely forget to provide any feedback. It may be that the company doesn’t have a standard process for providing feedback, so if you don’t bother to follow up, you won’t find out what happened and where you could have done better.
If you have applied for the role directly with the employer, it is a good idea to send an email after your interview to follow up and reaffirm your interest, as well as to thank the interviewer. You might specifically include a note about how much you would value their general feedback as well as, of course, hearing the decision they are making.
If you don’t hear within a week after the interview, it is important to follow up, unless you have been specifically told it will be longer.
If you use a recruitment agency for your job search and they repeatedly fail to provide feedback, despite your follow ups – it could be time to think about using a different agency.
The agency’s role is to act as the go-between - they should be keen to ensure the client gets the right candidate, but also that their candidates get as much as possible out of the experience, particularly if they are unsuccessful, to help them in the future.
Feedback is vital in order to be able to grow and develop and it is the responsibility of the agency to try to make this happen. It is bad practice not to provide feedback after an interview and a good agency will do their utmost to make sure this happens by chasing the company on behalf of their candidates. They may sometimes be frustrated but, if they are a reputable agency, they will always try.
Rules are rules
In an increasingly litigious world, some employers unfortunately can have a rule that they will not provide feedback, in case it is used by the applicant as evidence of discrimination. “It’s company policy,” they will say.
One way of addressing this is, rather than ask why you didn’t get the job, is to ask for any tips on how you might improve your interview technique in the future. There’s no guarantee this will work but it’s worth a try.
If you do get feedback - do take it well. Don’t make the recruiter regret providing feedback by arguing back, tempting though this may be. The fact is, the decision has been made and unless the interviewer has been left with a fundamental misunderstanding of you which may be damaging to your reputation, arguing the point will most likely do more harm than good.
Take feedback on the chin, and where it is fair, learn from it and aim to address it next time.
So in summary, if you don’t get feedback, comfort yourself in the fact that it is almost certainly not your fault. But also do make sure you’ve done what you can to show that you’re keen and open to having it.
You may also want to make sure you are supported by an agency that always works hard to get useful, constructive feedback for its candidates.
An agency like Regan & Dean.