Dear Ask Alexis,
I'm wondering if it's okay to request interview feedback from an employer who didn't hire me. I'd really love to know a few more specifics of what wasn't a fit so that I can work on it in the future, but I'm not sure how to ask or whether I'll hear back if I do.
Open to Feedback
Dear Open to Feedback,
First, I want to commend you on seeking out feedback at all!
For many of us, the idea of receiving feedback on our professional performance at work can be so intimidating that we simply avoid it altogether. The fact that you're trying to find an appropriate way to request feedback says a lot about your interest in your personal and professional growth.
Now, on to your question. As a hiring manager, I have personally committed to always respond to professional and appropriate requests for feedback from candidates who have not moved on to the next round of an interview process.
So, what do I mean by professional and appropriate? I want to be sure that a request is coming from a sincere place and that the candidate is genuinely interested in my take on their performance in the interview.
Post-interview feedback request example
Here is an example of how you might go about requesting feedback after a not-so-successful interview:
Dear [NAME OF INTERVIEWER],
Thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to interview for the role of [POSITION] at [ORGANIZATION NAME]. While I'm disappointed to hear that I will not be moving on to the next round, I sincerely appreciate that you let me know in such a timely manner.
I am following up to request any feedback you may have for me based on my application materials and interview. Any observations or suggestions that you are willing to share will certainly help me to hone my professional skills and focus on potential areas of growth.
Of course, if you don't have the time to share your thoughts, I completely understand, but if you are able, it would be greatly appreciated.
Thank you again for your time and consideration.
Pro Tip: The key is to always ensure that your genuine interest in constructive feedback comes across, and that you aren't simply couching a final attempt to convince a hiring manager of your candidacy with an insincere request for feedback.
What not to include in your request for feedback
Here are some post-interview candidate emails that I generally would not respond to:
- Candidates who are still arguing their case. If, after sending out an email or making a call to inform a candidate that they did not move on to the next round of the interview process, they respond with an email that comes off as aggressively persuasive, I often choose not to respond. Even if they are requesting feedback on their interview, I have found that in these situations, folks are not as interested in feedback as they are in continuing to work to convince you that they are the one for the job.
- Candidates who are trying to engage in a back-and-forth. Along those same lines, if I have already responded to a candidate's request for feedback after a job interview and they continue to ask questions or prod, I generally would not continue to engage.
Ultimately, if your sincere interest in developing your interview skills comes through, many hiring managers will share some observations on your performance.
Send your questions and comments to me at AskAlexis@idealist.org, and if we plan to publish your question, I’ll be sure to give you a heads up (and I’ll also be sure to keep your info anonymous, of course).
Looking forward to reading your stories and answering your questions!
As the Associate Director of Marketing and Communications at Idealist and a lifelong nonprofit professional, Alexis offers job seekers, game changers, and do gooders actionable tips, career resources, and social-impact advice.