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.
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!
Kathy Rapp is the CEO of hrQ where she helps companies find groovy HR Talent for permanent or project roles across the country. Prior to joining hrQ Kathy booked more than 15 years of diverse HR leadership experience working in F500s and start-up organizations. A connoisseur of the intersection between pop culture and business, Kathy believes many talent insights can be gleamed from the succession planning lessons experienced by Van Halen and AC/DC.