How'd I Do? Rejection Feedback – Give It To Me

Interviews can be a lot like first dates.

You stress about what to wear.  Should I overdress, look professionally hip or wear something really memorable?  You prepare. What are my questions/answers to keep the conversation moving? And… you want to know how you did!  Did I bomb?  Did we share a connection?  Does he/she think I have potential??!

While I’ve not been on a first date in a loooooong time, I do have friends who tell me their tales.  I also work to get HR pros interviews.  In both scenarios, everyone is looking for FEEDBACK.  It becomes even more crucial if they are rejected.

“Perhaps the real consolation of feedback isn’t about learning why you’ve been rejected as much as it is about simply not being ignored.”

Being treated as if you don’t exist is torture.  Providing an explanation as to why it isn’t going to work, while sometimes painful to hear, is at least an acknowledgement there was an interaction you put effort into!

Since I know more about interview rejection let’s talk about what you can/should do with rejection feedback.  Here are three types of examples:

  • The “CYA” feedback“There were other candidates who more closely matched our skills and experience requirements.” As HR folks we get this.  It  is the go-to response when we really can’t say why you’re not going to get the job.  As a candidate, you can push the issue but it’s probably not going to win you any fans.  If this is a response you are frequently getting, then a bit of self-reflection might be in order. What did you have in common with the interviewer?  What did you observe about the culture and did you represent that in yourself?  For example, if everyone was young and fashionable and you are older and in a suit from 1985, you are going to have to work to get past the initial interview unless your personality and energy matched that of the interviewer.
  • The “I like you, but….” feedback“I actually really saw potential in you but we’re going to go in a different direction.” This may cause the gut reaction of “what the hell does that mean?” but don’t let it take you there. Instead, ask about the “potential” that was observed. What was seen?  What else may you is a fit for either now or later?  Let’s keep in touch since you liked me!
  • The “I’m going to be direct” feedback“Let me be blunt. In order to progress with this company you need to look the part. I’d suggest losing some weight and getting a stylist.”  Now…you may be saying “OMG who would EVER say that to someone?!!”  It has happened.  My take was, perhaps that isn’t the place with the same values as you, BUT is there any truth in that statement?  In this case the person knew she needed to lose weight.  So while the delivery was rough, she appreciated at least knowing why she wasn’t going to progress.

As the employer, giving meaningful feedback is critical to the candidate experience.  As the candidate, being open to receiving feedback (regardless of the type) is important to future successful interviews. Or, keep working at Tchotchkes and just add more flair. “Now you know it’s up to you whether or not you want to do the bare minimum.  Or, well…like Brian, for example, has thirty-seven pieces of flair, okay.  And a terrific smile.”

Hit me with the best feedback you’ve given/gotten in the comments!

FOT Background Check

Kathy Rapp
Kathy Rapp is the President of hrQ, where she helps companies find groovy HR Talent or HR Consultants to drive business results.  Prior to joining hrQ, Kathy booked more than 15 years of human resources leadership experience working for such companies as Morgan Stanley and First Data Corporation.  A connoisseur of the intersection between pop culture and business, Kathy believes many talent issues can be addressed via the succession planning lessons experienced by Van Halen  (David Lee/Sammy and sadly, Gary Cherone).


  1. This assumes you can get the time of day out of the company, let alone actual feedback…

    • Kathy Rapp
      Kathy Rapp says:

      I feel your pain, David; but hopefully getting an interview means there is some sort of reply back. If not, probably not a place you wanted to work anyway.

  2. kd says:

    decent strategy for those wanting feedback – reach out to who interviewed you and put them at ease – let them know you understand that they feel you had lots of good qualities – but ask for what you could have used more of in order to remain under consideration. If you do the first part well, most folks will give you data on the second part, especially if it’s experienced-based in nature…


  3. Gah says:

    And a shallow idiot controls everything – again, no.

  4. In most of the rejection cases, employers usually don’t respond to the job seeker. Job seeker just kept on waiting for the response. I think it is very important that you inform the job seeker and tell him that we’ll consider you later for other job opportunities.

  5. read more says:

    It’s amazing to pay a quick visit this website and reading
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