You wrote a great cover letter. You met (or exceeded) all of the requirements for the position. You thought your interview went pretty well, and yet here it is, glaring at you from your inbox: the rejection email.
“After careful consideration, we’ve decided to move forward with candidates whose qualifications better match our needs at this time. Please continue to check our jobs page for future opportunities and best of luck with your job search!”
Ouch. Rejection sucks (here’s how to move on), but it doesn’t have to be the end of the story. If you’re confused about why you weren’t chosen and need a bit of closure, you may be asking yourself: “Is it okay to ask for feedback after an interview?” The short answer is yes. Here are three reasons why it’s not only okay, but actually smart to ask for feedback after being rejected from a job or internship:
1. It’s a Chance to Learn About Yourself and Become a Stronger Candidate
Failure is never fun in the moment, but it can provide incredibly useful opportunities for us to learn more about ourselves. So many successes have stemmed from these low points that some companies actually encourage their employees to fail, because it means they’re trying new things and learning from their mistakes.
If you ask a recruiter or hiring manager for specific feedback regarding your candidacy for a job, you might learn something useful that you can use in future interviewing experiences. Maybe you came across as overly prepared or formal in your interview. Maybe they didn’t like how many jobs you’ve hopped between in your career. Maybe you just didn’t seem like a strong culture fit.
Some pieces of feedback will offer you concrete next steps to becoming a stronger candidate, some will require years of work, and others will simply be out of your control. The important thing is that this feedback can offer you a glimpse into what other people see in you as a candidate. This insight can help you avoid similar mistakes in the future, tighten up weaknesses and make you more competitive for other positions moving forward.
2. It Shows That You Care
You might hesitate asking for feedback after an interview out of the fear that you’ll come across as annoying or needy, but any good recruiter or hiring manager will respect your request if you ask properly. In your request, be sure to thank them for considering you for the role, underline your desire to work with them again in the future and frame the question in a way that demonstrates you care about becoming a stronger candidate. This example can be used as a starting template:
“Dear (recruiter/hiring manager),
Thank you for considering me for the role of ____. I’m disappointed to hear that I won’t be moving forward as a candidate for this position, but will definitely look for more opportunities to work with (company name) in the future. In the interest of becoming a candidate who can add more value to your team in the future, do you have any specific feedback from the hiring committee that you can share with me? Any notes would be greatly appreciated!
All the best,
An email like the one above shows that you care not only about the company and the position you applied for, but also about how you can become a stronger candidate and a better match for that company in the future. If a recruiter or hiring manager gets annoyed by your desire to learn from failure and grow as a professional, they’re not the kind of future coworker you’d want anyways.
3. You Have Nothing to Lose
The last time I asked for feedback after an interview, the recruiter responded with a boilerplate email that it was against company policy to share specific candidacy feedback with applicants. While this wasn’t the response I had hoped for, I didn’t lose anything by asking. Requesting feedback after an interview can take as little as 60 seconds, so what’s to lose? Worst case, you never hear back or you get a response like I did. Best case? You might learn something important about yourself, make yourself stand out for future job openings or maybe even change the recruiter’s mind!
Feedback is an important part of any process, so you could be losing out big by not taking the time to learn from your failures, as long as you respect boundaries (no one likes a crazy ex – the same goes for crazy job applicants).