Friday, December 15, 2006

Asking For Feedback from an Interviewer

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I was recently rejected from an internship that I thought I was qualified for and wanted very badly. I was feeling really confident that I'd get the job because I felt like I aced the interview I had a few weeks earlier, but obviously I made a few big mistakes. Because I was curious about what I could have done, I e-mailed the my two interviewers (I remembered to ask for their business cards, so I didn't have to search around for their contact info) and politely asked them for some feedback.

It's totally acceptable to request feedback whether you're hired for a job or not (though obviously you're more likely to want it if you've been rejected). The key is phrasing it the right way so that you don't come off as bitter or angry (even if you are).

You want to start out by thanking the interviewer and then express disappointment (but not shock) at being rejected. Then you want to politely ask for feedback on your interview, for the purpose of improving your interviewing skills. Finally, you want to thank them again for considering you. Here is the e-mail I sent to my interviewers, it's not perfect but I felt that I at least got the point across without being rude:

Dear X and X,

I was very disappointed to hear that I wasn't accepted for the summer internship program, I had a very positive experience over the weekend and was so excited about the possibility of working for Company X. As my interviewers, I was wondering if either of you would be willing to give me some feedback on my performance. I would really like to improve my interviewing skills and would greatly appreciate any comments or advice you may have for me. Thank you again for even considering me for the internship program, and for putting on a fantastic weekend.


Meg X

This company had paid for me to attend a recruitment weekend, so I had more to thank them for, but usually you can at least thank the interviewer for answering your questions and giving you a tour of the office (if they did this). As painful as it was, I tried to focus on the positive aspects of my time with them and my desire for self-improvement.

I have no idea if my e-mail had any effect on them, because one didn't respond and the other sent me a form letter saying how tough their decision was. A lot of companies have policies saying they don't give feedback on interviews, and those that do won't always care enough to respond to someone they rejected, so know that going in. But you never know if someone will respond, and you might get some very helpful constructive criticism. Getting rejected sucks, but at least you can try to improve from your mistakes- at worst, you'll get a brush-off form letter, but you might get some excellent advice.

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