Job Interview Feedback – How to Ask

Getting job interview feedback is critical to enhancing your interviewing skills and increasing your chances in getting a great job.  We all have to do many interviews before succeeding in getting an offer.  Not being called back for a second or third round is part of the job search process, but it doesn’t have to be all negative.

For those job interviews where you didn’t get called back, ask for some honest feedback about how you did on the interview so you can learn and be better at the next one.  What is there to lose?  They already moved on to another candidate.   You may not always get a response when you ask for feedback but there is always a chance you will and can learn some real insights from their interview feedback on how you can improve.

Here are 5 rules of thumbs when asking for interview feedback.  Also see an example of an actual email I wrote to an interviewer recently to get interview feedback

  1. Do it by email instead of a call – this way it doesn’t put anyone on the spot.  They can consider what they want to tell you and then get back to you.  An email can also give you a chance to ask for feedback tactfully
  2. Be humble and sincere – Don’t use this opportunity to give them feedback about anything.  Focus on the fact you want to learn and ask for honest feedback.  Thank them in advance for the help as providing good interview feedback takes time
  3. Be flexible – put in language that makes you sound earnest instead of pushy.  sth “when you have time.”  “Share anything you are comfortable with.”
  4. Be specific – put in specific questions you want feedback on. People are more likely to respond to a specific question than a general email that asks for feedback.  It shows that you thought about it.  One way to be specific is actually lay out your self assessment of what could be improve and see if they had the same impression or not.
  5. Be patient – not everyone will be willing to provide you honest feedback.   Some will never respond.  Some will keep it high level.  and then there will be a few that can give you true insight.  Realize this is normal and don’t dwell if you don’t learn anything.  At least you took a shot.  Also give the interviewer some time to respond.  Wait a week before following up with one more email.  If you don’t hear anything still, then leave it at that.
Here is an example of an email I wrote recently to get interview feedback after interviewing for a Product Manager role.
My email: Thanks for the update.  I totally understand.  Best wishes with this other candidate.  If you have time, I would really appreciate some honest feedback regarding my interviewing skills.  I am always trying to learn and improve.  It would be great to hear from your perspective how things went.
  • What I did well in the interviews with you and you team?
  • What concerned you (For example, here are two self assessments regarding where I could have done better).  It would be great to hear whether my gut feel is over-analysis or on point and if there are any other blind spots I didn’t see.  
    1.  I thought I may have left you and your team the wrong impression that I can only do the job if there were research resources (team / budget) supporting me because of how I asked my question about what customer research you have access to.  Did I leave that impression? 
    2.  I focused most of my questions on the mobile piece of the job, when in fact was at most 40% of the work.  That may have left you or your team the wrong impression I am not as interested in the reporting aspect of the work or the projects. 
  • How I could have done better if you were in my shoes?

Anything you feel comfortable sharing would be invaluable to me and will help me learn for the future.  Thanks in advance for your help.

She responded in 5 days with the following.  I followed up to scheduled an in person discussion in mid-November to learn more.

Her response: This would be a great in-person discussion sometime.   Bottom line – no glaring flaws, so please set your mind at ease. The fact that you haven’t actually been a product manager was the big factor.

Your comment: Did this example help? Do you have any other tips to add?  Share what has or has not worked for you.

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3 thoughts on “Job Interview Feedback – How to Ask

  1. ana

    Thanks for this article. the part about specifics really helps. i normally focus on soft skills part because i believe my technical side is strong. now i can jot from memory each q and a and ask the interviewer for feedback for each question.

  2. Isabelle

    Great post Lei. Thank you. It is always really difficult to get some good feedback. I can see now the benefit of asking via email. I really like that you share this concrete example with us. I am definitively going to use this next time!

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