Why no hiring managers want to give you feedback when you’re in a job search.

Job Seekers say they want feedback, but I’m not sure they really do.  Most people don’t give you feedback for one very simple reason.  You take that as an opportunity to showcase your sleek objection handling techniques.  You try to tell them their feedback isn’t relevant or on target.  You try to sell them on how this is not accurate.

Do you have any idea what it’s like on the other end?  It’s exhausting.  You asked for feedback.  If you were using it as a guise to get back in the game, guess what, it’s not working.

You thought you got along great with the hiring manager.  But honestly you have no idea how you did relative to everyone else.  I’ve worked with a hiring manager for years.  Every person he interviews thinks they’re getting a call back.  Every person thinks it just went fantastic.  And many candidates are in disbelief when they don’t get an offer to move forward in the process.  When I call the candidates to tell them they’re not the one, they always say “but it went so well, I just don’t understand.” The fact is, this person is just great at interviewing.  He’s great at relationship-building.  He’s also great at vetting out what he really wants.  And it what he didn’t want was them.

Most people won’t give you feedback.  Human Resource leaders often can’t due to corporate policy.  Just so you know, this corporate policy was created because some candidate took the feedback and sued the company.  Who needs that?  No one.

Another HR leader told me he gives feedback by just not calling back. Yes, that’s feedback all right.  It might not be the kind you want to hear, but it’s definitely the feedback that says “we have other candidates we prefer over you.”

Now some of you are reading this and saying, but wait.  That’s not me.  I truly, genuinely want the feedback.  But do you really?  Do you really care?  So they didn’t want you.  Go spend your time looking for the place and the people who do want you.

Can you imagine if every time a couple broke up, one of them asked for feedback?  No, it’s not you, it’s me. I just need to figure out my life.  I’m not in a good place to have an effective relationship.  Blah, blah, blah.  What they really mean is, you’re not the one.  So, move on!

Many of you are thinking you’re capable of accepting feedback and will continue to ask for it.  If you’re that person, here are a few tips on how to receive feedback in a professional manner that leaves a good impression:

  1. Ask for the feedback, and then don’t say a word.  Just listen.
  2. Instead of asking “what could I have done differently?” ask “In which areas did they find the other candidate(s) a better fit?”  This way you’ll know whether there’s an opportunity for you to enhance a skill or two.
  3. Once they’ve told you all they’re going to, then say “Thank you very much.  You have a great organization.  Whoever lands this role is fortunate to part of such a team!”

And then go celebrate the good news.  What’s the good news?  They just freed up your time.  No longer do you have to waste time and energy thinking about this particular opportunity.  Now you can spend your time focusing on opportunities where the feedback you get is two words:  You’re hired!

5 thoughts on “Why no hiring managers want to give you feedback when you’re in a job search.

  1. This is an interesting post. Feedback, however is critical if you get it *before* a decision has been made, then is the best opportunity to overcome objections. If you don’t get them to express an objection it doesn’t mean there isn’t one.

  2. This is very useful and timely advice. Like Dinos mentioned, I’m curious for your thoughts on bringing up the feedback/fit/concerns question proactively at the end of the interview, vs. waiting to hear back that you aren’t the desired candidate. How and when do you approach this?

    Thanks! Love the blog.

    1. It really depends, Sam. Sometimes, I think people, when confronted for feedback in person, are not entirely honest. Sure, you can ask “are there any concerns you have about me for this role?” But, don’t be surprised if you don’t get much. I think about a guy I was interviewing – who was obviously not the right fit. I decided to tell him during the interview because I thought that would save him (and me) some time in future follow up. Well, he didn’t take it that well, and then spent the next 20 minutes trying to talk me into reconsidering him. It was really uncomfortable. Sometimes, it’s just easier to say something like “Well, we still have quite a few candidates we still need to speak with.”

      I do agree that you should always try to get some type of information, but I’d stay away from the idea of the typical “fit/feedback/concerns.” Think about a way to phrase it differently that comes across without putting the interviewer on the spot. Sometimes a trial close works well. If you know the process (and you should because you should’ve asked what it is in the beginning of the interview), and you really believe you’ve hit it off, then it may be appropriate to ask something about the next step of the process. I talk about that in my book.

      Hope that helps!

  3. Molly,

    I have a related question. I did get feedback from my interview and it was all positive although they didnt offer me the job. Several weeks later they called me in to interview for a different position and I heard nothing from that so far. Its only been a week but I asked them nicely if they had a time frame on a decision and no one responded to that email. I think they are taking people with less experience for less money. Two questions – how do you bridge the gap from a good presentation/interview to an offer and why does it take so long for the employer to get back to you?

    p.s. just bought your book – wish it was available on ereader so I could start reading it now!

    1. Hey Wendy,
      Although it’s a little late now, what I would do is try to get a hiring timeline and commitment during the interview – not after. It’s just too difficult, as you’re experiencing, to try to get information from them post interview. People are busy and as much as they intend to get back to you, time flies and before they know it, a week or two is gone.

      I don’t know if you’ve read my book – especially the interviewing chapter – but following that strategy worked for me (many many times) as well as many others. It’s worth the read!

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