Even when you don’t get the job, the feedback that you get from the interviewer can help you succeed in future interviews for other jobs. You might not always agree with their feedback – especially if it’s brutally honest – but it can help you do better next time.
How do you ask for honest feedback? Here are some ideas:
1. Be aware of the interviewer’s reactions.
Most of the time, interviewers offer feedback through their actions and reactions during the interview. She may not come out and state her opinions about your performance, but her facial expressions, body language, reactions to your answers, and number of questions and follow-up questions asked will speak volumes. The more time she spends interviewing you, the better.
If the interviewer keeps on asking questions and stating ideas about you and the company, that’s a sign that you have a chance. If she spontaneously talks about introducing you to other members of the team, that’s also a good sign. On the other hand, if she sighs, frowns, yawns, or is simply not paying much attention, your chances of succeeding are reduced.
2. Evaluate and assess yourself.
Immediately after the interview, self-assess and self-evaluate. In your mind, replay the scenarios during the interview and ask yourself, “Did I respond well?” While the interview is still fresh in your mind, write or type some notes on what happened.
List the questions that you think you handled well, the questions for which you hesitated before answering them, and the questions you struggled with. Also, include in your notes the way you reacted. Were you confident and obviously prepared? Were you stuttering or losing poise? If you were given the chance to change something about the interview, what would it be?
Evaluate yourself promptly so that if you think you need to address something very important, you can go back and at least have an opportunity to change what you want to change. Another option is to include that particular change in your thank-you note.
3. Follow up.
Usually, hiring managers do not give feedback; the main reason is because it’s not enjoyable to deliver bad news. Also, they’re busy and don’t have time to review the interviews with the applicants; moreover, some worry about saying something unpleasant that might be taken the wrong way.
Nevertheless, you can ask for feedback as long as you’re asking in a polite way. Once the company representative calls you and says that you didn’t get the job, request some constructive criticism and make it as easy as possible for them to be honest. When you get the feedback, be sure to use it to help you in your next interview. Just think of it this way: Every interview is a learning experience.
4. Seek the advice of a career counselor.
If you can’t get honest feedback from interviewers or you’ve been to a lot of interviews but still receive no offers, you might be making some common interview mistakes you’re not aware of. You can consult a career coach or a career counselor who can help you identify the problems and work with you to improve upon them.
When a big interview comes, schedule a session with a coach so you can practice and receive expert coaching on how to highlight your strengths. Most career coaches and counselors have been trained to help clients excel in job interviews. They will give you honest feedback and can coach you on how to improve.
These are some reminders to help you stay focused on your job hunt even if you’ve been rejected. Remember, not getting a job doesn’t mean you’ll never get a job. You just have to work on your interview skills and learn how to make the most of post-interview criticism.