How to Ask for Feedback from a Job You Didn’t Get

I just got a comment (11/18/09) from Jenny asking how she can get job interview feedback about a couple of job interviews she felt went really well. What I like best is she isn’t stuck in the past whining about why they didn’t offer her the job…she’s looking proactively to the future to see if there’s anything she can learn from job interview feedback to help her with her next round of interviews.

Jenny wrote:

I have been looking for a questionnaire/survey that I can send to an employer that did not hire me after two excellent interviews. I’d like to know what their decision-making process was as well as how they rated my performance so that I can do better in any upcoming interviews. That is how I ended up on your site, which has now been bookmarked!

I think the tool would be of great benefit to many job seekers, and am hoping you can help.

Truth is, I don’t know of any formal feedback questionnaires or surveys for applicants wanting to better understand the job interview process.  My first thought is that employers would be reluctant to commit to any such written feedback explaining why she didn’t get a job offer. And even if they were willing to provide some minimal feedback, they most likely wouldn’t give more than a bare-bones picture of their real hiring process. (If anyone knows otherwise, please let us know.)

Since I can’t speak for all potential employers, I’ll simply give you my own feelings about this. So here goes…

How I Prefer to Handle Feedback If You Don’t Get a Job Offer

I’m trying to remember times when someone actually contacted me to ask for feedback. To be honest, there haven’t been all that many people who even asked.

In one case, I was part of an organization that had a “no-feedback” policy. Not sure it was actually written anywhere, but we were strongly advised not to handle any calls from rejected candidates after an offer was made. We were supposed to send anyone who called at that point to HR.

In another case, there was a woman who kept calling everyone who interviewed her trying to get feedback. (There were about 6 of us.) I may have been the first person she tried, since I made the initial contact. I politely said something like she seemed really talented but we found a better match.  But then she started contacting everyone else, and aggressively told them why she thinks we made a mistake and should create a place for her anyway.  (She also asked each of us to recommend her to other departments.)

I’m not sure where she got the idea this was a good way to help herself (it’s not), but to this day she’s almost a legend in that department and will never get another interview there as long as any of the folks who remember her are still there. And just so it doesn’t go unsaid…no one was willing to give her feedback or recommendations.

So clearly there’s a right way and wrong way to ask – even if feedback is allowed.

My best suggestion (what I’d prefer if you wanted feedback from me) is to first contact me via e-mail (in general contact whomever you seemed to connect with most).  Ask if it’s ok for you to call to get some feedback on your interviews. And make it clear you understand feedback may be limited, but that all you are looking for is some general observations and/or advice that might help you the next time. And keep the initial e-mail to 2 or 3 sentences tops.

At this point, of course, it’s up to the person whether they even want to respond – even if they are allowed to do so.  But at least you’ve made it clear general feedback would be fine and they won’t be giving away proprietary company information by speaking with you.

What If You Don’t Hear Back After You Ask for Feedback?

If you don’t hear back from the person within about 2 weeks, you might send another short note saying you understand there are probably reasons they prefer not to offer feedback, but you still hope they keep you in mind for future openings since you really enjoyed meeting them and would love to work there one day. And then if you’re really daring you might try one more person at the company – very gently and politely.  At this point if you still get no response, you probably should back off.

Depending on the situation, if I got a note like this I’d probably be open to at least a phone call, explaining carefully I’m giving my own thoughts that may not reflect those of the company.  Then I’d give a few tips I think would help.  I really don’t know how many others would go for this, but since it could also open up a future networking contact the risk may be worth it.  Every situation and industry is different, so as I see it there’s no one-size-fits-all answer.

What do you think? Would you give someone feedback after your company rejected them? Have you ever done it? And if you are willing…how would you like to be approached for interview feedback?

Also check out Mark Anthony Dyson’s answer on the original 11/18/09 comment.

I love what he says!

Comment from Jenny about “no job offer” feedback

For more about interview feedback:

Interview Feedback: Top Reason Ebony Got That Job Offer Call

For more about job interviews:

15 Things I Look for When I Interview People

Can Weekly Follow-up Calls and Emails Help Get You the Job?

10 Impressions You Leave Behind After a Job Interview

18 Things You Can Do to Ace Your Job Interview

12 Ways to Stay Sane After a Job Interview


About the author…

Ronnie Ann, founder of Work Coach Cafe, bases her real-world advice on her many years as an organizational consultant where she helped interview and hire people, added to a certificate from NYU in Career Planning & Development and her own adventures as a serial job seeker. She can also be found on her new blog, and on Google+.


  1. Kevin Edson says:

    “Wow, great blog.Truly looking forward to find out more.”

  2. Ronnie Ann,

    I recently received an email stating that I was turned down for a position that I was very much interested in, after making it to the final round of interviews.

    I am in the process of writing a thank you/ feedback email to the HR manager to thank them for the opportunity to interview and ask them for some feedback for future interviews.

    A few years ago I was involved in an altercation that had left me with a misdemeanor on my record. I am not sure if this is the reason why I did not get the position, or if it something else. Is there anyway of asking the HR manager about this?

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