If you’ve ever interviewed with a company, received an offer or have spoken to a recruiter you probably have noticed that they tend to be very light on giving feedback after interviews. But you should be getting feedback. I believe it’s one of the most important things you can do for yourself. It can help you improve in future interviews, understand what you need to work on, and generally makes you a better person.

Companies have different reasons for not providing feedback. None of them are really good reasons. Here are a few that I’ve noticed over the years as a recruiter:

  • It depends on the person in the company. One hiring manager could be extremely detailed and upfront in feedback where as another one could be extremely curt.
  • The hiring manager gives detailed feedback but it’s lost in translation between them, HR and the recruiter.
  • Companies don’t fully understand the reasons themselves.
  • Companies think that what they are telling you is helpful when it’s not — they are blind.
  • Companies are too lazy to give feedback.
  • Companies have a poorly organized recruitment process that doesn’t include giving feedback at the end because they feel it’s not necessary.
  • Companies don’t want to deal with giving negative feedback. Most people are bad at giving feedback anyways and will try to avoid discomfort and confrontation at all costs.
  • Companies have some sort of unjustifiable or illegal reason for rejecting you and don’t want to be caught, so they just avoid it.
  • People can be overly sensitive about things so it’s possible a disgruntled interviewee launches a smear-campaign against a company that results in legal repercussions, lost revenue, and media backlash. While I agree sometimes companies are to blame (sexism, etc.), often times people don’t fully understand the complexity of a hiring situation and make grandiose, emotional claims so it’s not surprising companies are cautious.

And the list goes on. As a recruiter I had to deal with all of the above situations and would really have to put pressure on HR and hiring managers to give me the REAL reasons they were rejecting someone. Sometimes I would spend 30 minutes on the phone listening to all of their justifications, and I still wouldn’t get a straight answer.

In reality you’re not always going to be able to get feedback 100% of the time. That said, I still believe you can get real feedback that will help you, but you just have to ask the right way.

The easiest way to find out is to politely ask them to cut the BS and give you constructive feedback.

Here’s how to do it:

The best way to get feedback that you are looking for is to make sure that you come off as having good intentions. Be up front with them about why you want the feedback and how important it is for you.

It is unlikely that you are going to get the feedback by email because they might be worried you are somehow going to use written evidence against them. Instead, suggest speaking over the phone or meeting in person.

John, thanks for taking the time to interview me. While it’s too bad I wasn’t able to move forward to the next round, I really enjoyed learning about your business and excited about what you guys have planned for the future.

I am always trying to improve myself and hone my interview skills, so I’d appreciate if you could provide some clarity into the reasons I was not able to move forward. You don’t need to sugar coat it — I can handle it. I’ll take it as constructive feedback and would be extremely helpful to hear this from you. I’m happy to speak over the phone or meet in person if you prefer. Can I give you a call at 2pm this Tuesday or Thursday?

Looking forward to speaking soon.

Best regards,

M

Good luck.

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