You more than met the job qualifications; you were fluent and confident, and you nailed the ‘why should we hire you’ question.
On your way out the door, the lead interviewer even slipped-up and said, ‘see you later’.
You’re already planning the first day with your new firm when the dreaded ‘I’m afraid on this occasion…’ letter arrives through the post.
At these moments it’s tempting to retreat into feelings of failure and self-doubt and to convince yourself you’re never going to make the next rung of the employment ladder.
But, in fact, this is the most important stage of your career progression because, when it comes to job interviews, you learn more from those you fail at than those you land.
Employers are often looking for a very specific combination of skills and qualities and the further up the career path you go, the more detailed the employee specification becomes.
When there are several candidates with similar qualifications and levels of experience chasing the same job, the vaguer are the factors that set them apart.
Failing at an interview doesn’t mean you weren’t articulate, personable, confident and well-prepared. It doesn’t mean you don’t have the right capabilities or that the interviewer didn’t think you’d do a great job.
It may be that there were two others in the same position as you and that the winning candidate did something in the interview that gave him or her a slight edge.
That’s why, for as long as you’re in the jobs market, constantly seeking feedback is so important.
The very fact that you’ve landed the interview means you’re qualified to do the job. From now on, it’s down to other factors as to whether you land it.
Interview manner, poise, clothing, delivery, the quality of your answers, how well your answers match the job requirements are all things that can be the difference between success and failure.
Asking for feedback can make us feel awkward and self-confident. We might think it should be obvious why we didn’t get the job and even asking will make us look stupid.
We may not want to impose on the interviewer’s time, or fear what we might learn about ourselves.
Self-evaluation is all very well but the best way to find out way you didn’t land the job is to hear it straight from the horse’s mouth and the truth is that most employers will be happy to provide post-interview feedback on your performance.
If you do ask for feedback, it’s important to ask the right questions. Don’t make the interviewer embarrassed by asking why you weren’t offered the job. Accept you were unsuccessful and focus on what you could have done to improve your performance.
Strike the right tone – you’re more likely to get constructive criticism if your questions are asked with the right intent – and don’t argue about your candidacy or signal that you feel angry or injured.
Getting constructive feedback is important for several reasons.
· It will give you better insight into how you’re perceived by employers. You may be highly qualified but perhaps you were slumped in your chair or your constant fidgeting put the interviewer off. Social skills are as important as professional skills and one of the things an interviewer will be evaluating is how you will be viewed by colleagues and clients.
· You may discover things about yourself you didn’t know. Perhaps you talk over people or finish their sentences for them. Maybe you are too familiar or alternatively, you come across as cold, aloof or even arrogant. These behaviour traits can often be caused by nerves and are easily remedied.
· It may force you to accept some uncomfortable home truths about yourself. Many of us believe we’re open to constructive criticism but struggle to name an occasion when we have taken something on board and changed our behaviour accordingly. Reaching out and asking for feedback is a sure-fire way of demonstrating that you’re willing to learn and grow.
· It may open doors for future opportunities. It may not feel like it at the time, but there are other, even better jobs out there waiting for your application. It may even be that the company that has just turned you down has another vacancy coming up for which you’d be perfect. Sending a ‘thanks for the opportunity’ email and asking for a few pointers on improving your interview technique will show you’re considerate and willing to learn.
· It will help you to move forward in the knowledge that you gave it your all. One of the worst things about being turned down for a job can be the hit that your confidence takes. Swallowing your pride and asking for feedback can often seem like the first step in getting over the disappointment and moving onto the next challenge.