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HomeBlog General What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger: reacting positively to interview feedback

What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger: reacting positively to interview feedback

10th September 2013

No matter how ‘hardened ‘ you are to the highs and lows of the recruitment process, it’s always a blow not to make it through interview to the next stage of the process, or to get that job offer of your dreams. When you have invested the time and emotional energy required to prepare for interview, raised your hopes, spent several hours on the phone with your recruiter planning for interview, stayed up late putting together presentations and honing your CV to perfection, you naturally begin to envision yourself as part of the interviewing organisation and feel excited about the prospect of joining a new team, about career advancement and all the material gains that come with nailing your Dream Job. Then – you get the dreaded ‘NO’  – and it can feel like a crushing blow to your confidence, esteem and sense of employability.

For the hiring manager, HR manager and your recruiter too.  Believe it or not they share your disappointment. All parties have invested time in screening you into a select pool of ‘possibles’ and delivering the disappointing news to a candidate that they weren’t The One, is not pleasant either… Some organisations worry about saying something to the candidate that will lead to conflict, offense, or even legal risk for the company and lean on the recruiter to be the ‘bearer of bad news’. However, giving constructive feedback is an essential part of the interview process, and if delivered and responded to in the right way, can definitely make you a stronger candidate for future interview rounds to ultimately Get The Job.

Typically, feedback is either generic or specific; obviously the latter is vastly more useful, but sadly, is not always made available for fear of causing offense, legal risk, or entering into awkward communications with recruiters/ candidates challenging immovable decisions. Recent research amongst 1600 adults in the UK found that “the biggest recruitment bugbears for jobseekers was not being told that their attempts at employment had been unsuccessful (46%), followed by lack of feedback about their application (39%).” Recruiters, too, share their candidates’ angst when interview feedback is either feebly generic or wantonly absent.

Generic feedback is generally along the lines of, ” the successful candidate had more experience/skills in line with the job profile”: ie You were ‘pipped at the post’ by someone and probably did nothing at all ‘wrong’ as such – in which case, it’s very much Better Luck Next Time and keep on doing what you’re doing – you will get there.

Specific feedback is what you and your recruiter should be gunning for and although it WILL contain negatives, they should be delivered constructively (ie with advice on what could have been done differently / better or what the successful candidate did differently/better that made the ultimate difference). Take note. Literally. Write it down, each and every point or observation in turn, as these points will form the basis of your Interview Action Plan for next time. You will need to rehearse your revised responses (perhaps with a friend, much better with your recruiter who can critique and recommend further tweaks, if required, to further hone your skills, or to deliver much-needed praise to repair dented pride!)

The more specific feedback you get, the better. It can feel daunting and a bit like a personal affront at first, but remember to treat these ‘negatives’ as ‘positives’ designed ultimately to help you hone your interview performance and be the winning candidate next time around. Try not to react emotionally or defensively. That’s just raking over old ground. You need to look to the future and be open to constructive criticism. It’s your Action Plan to adopt for the career you desire and deserve. And use your recruiter – please – because, they’re on your side! Your recruiter knows the companies, their culture and personnel, so tap into this valuable insight to help adapt your interview skills to hopefully not just meet, but to exceed the job specification to finally get that Dream Job. 

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