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What’s For You Won’t Go By You - Making Interview Feedback Work for You

A new year makes many people start to contemplate a change in their career, which can mean dusting off that fancy suit and going to an interview. Regardless of the time of year, at one point or another, everyone interviews for a new job. Sometimes the final word has you jumping for joy, while other times. the news may have you crying for days, or perhaps feeling a bit deflated. 

On the flip side, when companies are filling positions, the decision on who to hire can be a really difficult one, more so, if the hiring manager comes out of the interviews with more than one strong contender. Both people would be great in the role… but budget allows only one to be hired, and it was the other person. 

Let’s set the stage…
You get the awaited call from the Recruiter.   He tells you, “Joe, thank you for your time, but unfortunately we have selected another candidate for this position.”  

Where do you go from here?
As a Recruiter, I can tell you that you’ve got two roads you can take.  One will work against you and the other in your favour.

The Left Road – Angry Avenue
You’re angry, shocked, disappointed, or even confused and thinking… “Seriously, I’m a shoe-in, this cannot be happening. They’re crazy not to pick me”.  

Here are some examples of different reactions that I as a Recruiter have experienced from candidates;

  • Went on the defensive; continued to plead their case on why they should have been selected.
  • Vehemently disagreed with the company’s choice and became confrontational
  • Sent a follow-up email to the Recruiter & Hiring Manager expressing their desire to have them reconsider their choice

Sadly, it’s too late the decision has been made. 

Fast forward, 2 years – you see another position advertised for the same company and think YES! I am going to apply.  You submit your application… will you get a call?

Think of the first impression you left with the company. You were provided with some feedback that you didn’t agree with and responded rather curtly.  I remember that response, and as a Recruiter, my first thought will be can this person accept constructive criticism as an employee if that is how they initially reacted to not being selected for the position?

Now, let’s go back 2 years to that initial phone call when you heard you weren’t going to receive the role, and let’s try taking the road to the right.

The Right Road – Humility Street
You’re feeling a bit discouraged  by the news, but the Recruiter has told you it was a tough choice. This time you say “I really appreciate you calling to let me know, I enjoyed meeting with you and the hiring manager and learning more about your company. 

In addition:

  • Be polite and non-confrontational
  • Acknowledge that the hiring decision was difficult
  • Be open, ask for specific feedback on your skills, experience and what you may need to do differently in order to be considered should a comparable position arise in the future
  • Let the Recruiter know you would be very interested in being considered for other opportunities

If you want to take it a step further, send the manager and Recruiter an e-mail.  Thank them for their time and feedback.  Express that you appreciate it was a difficult decision for them, and ask them if you can connect via LinkedIn to keep in touch, should other opportunities become available.

The same job is once again available, guess what?  You left such a strong, positive impression, that before you could even apply, they called you!


You see the newly posted position and you submit your application and follow-up it with a quick and friendly note to the Recruiter to say hello and let them know you are still keen to join the company, followed by a brief overview of the new skills and experiences you’ve acquired since you were last interviewed.

Can you spot the difference between the two approaches?
Humility Street shows how open you are to feedback and how prepared you are to take the feedback and work to improve.  You are non-confrontational and can be trusted to handle yourself professionally in difficult situations. 

Most importantly, don’t let not getting the initial job discourage you. I was given advice a long time ago that sticks with me today, that what’s for you, will not go by you. Keep that in mind and champion on.  After all knowing you were a runner up or even selected for the interview is a very positive sign.