How to Ask for Feedback After Job Rejection

You didn’t get the job—and you’re dying to know why. Here’s how to request feedback, no matter where you are in your career.

How to Ask for Feedback After Job Rejection

The right feedback can will help you move forward in your job search.

Three weeks after you interview for your dream job, an email pops into your inbox: “We regret to inform you that you haven’t been selected for this position.” You try to handle the news gracefully, but you need to know: Why exactly didn’t you get the job? You need to know how to ask for feedback after job rejection, and we're here to help.

You can—and should—ask for interview feedback. You really have nothing to lose, but you must ask cordially.

In fact, you have a lot to gain. Hearing what went wrong can pinpoint the areas you need to work on—whether it’s your body language or your ability to think on the spot.

When, Whom, and How to Ask for Interview Feedback

Your best bet is to approach someone you spoke with early in the interview process, such as a recruiter or HR person, rather than the hiring manager. Hiring managers are super-busy, and they're not required to provide you with feedback. A recruiter, on the other hand, may be more willing to give feedback since they’re charged with providing a positive recruiting experience for candidates.

Start by sending that person an email soon after the decision has been made. Say you’re appreciative that you had the chance to interview and you’re sorry you didn’t get the job. Then, ask if they could spare 10 minutes for a phone call in the coming days to discuss areas where you could improve. The push to move from email to the phone is important, since the recruiter will be more candid on the phone.

You have to tailor your approach depending on where you are in your career.

How to Ask for Interview Feedback After Job Rejection: Entry Level

When you’re vying for an entry-level job, you’re likely pitted against a big pool of candidates. Whether or not the recruiter will be willing to offer you advice really comes down to your likability. If you made a good impression, they’ll be more likely to help as you try to get your career off the ground.

You don’t want to ask point-blank why you didn’t get the job. Instead, you want to come across as someone looking for guidance and advice. This works because it makes the recruiter feel valued.

It's best to ask open-ended questions, like:

  • What could I do to be the top candidate for this type of job?
  • If I would apply for a similar role elsewhere, what would you recommend I focus on developing?

Then, sit back and listen. In response, you should show nothing but appreciation. Don't argue or disagree with anything they tell you.

How to Ask for Interview Feedback After Job Rejection: Mid-level

At this stage of your career, with several interviews under your belt, you probably have a good idea of whether or not the interview went well by the time you walk out the office door. But if the rejection takes you by surprise, you’re going to want specific feedback.

To get there, ask for positive feedback; it may make the criticisms easier to deliver.

Try asking the same question in slightly different ways, such as:

  • What feedback do you have for me?
  • Are there any interview strategies you’d recommend?
  • Any tips or techniques I should try?

Approaching it through a few different lenses can keep the conversation going, and that can increase the likelihood that you end up with useful nuggets.

How to Ask for Interview Feedback After Job Rejection: Executive Level

It becomes easier to solicit feedback the further along you are in your career since you can approach it as a peer-to-peer conversation rather than like you’re asking a huge favor from a high-up person.

If they’re hesitant to talk, take a back-channel approach: Ask any references the hiring manager spoke to what they were asked. The questions that they were asked can give you a sense of where the had concerns.

For instance, hearing they asked why you held several jobs in a five-year period should clue you in that they were apprehensive about your job-hopping history.

What to Do If You’re Met With Silence

Try following up a week or two later if your initial request goes unanswered. Followed up three times and no reply? Take the hint that they don’t want to talk (and get on with your job search on Monster). Some companies have a policy against giving feedback for liability reasons, in case it turns into a PR issue or an EEOC discrimination claim.

No matter if your request for feedback is met with a yes or a no, be gracious. Show you’re professional and authentic, and—who knows—maybe they’ll bring you in to interview again down the line.

The Next Step

You may know how to ask for feedback after job rejection, but the rejection part still stings. Want some help getting back in the search? Create a free profile on Monster. We can hook you up with recruiters, send you job alerts, and much more. We can help you stay motivated and get you into a new job fast.