Job Seeker Series – Post Interview Feedback – “You Can’t Handle the Truth”!!

You want the truth?…..You want the truth?…….You can’t handle the truth!!!!

Over my many years in recruitment, I’ve obviously been asked by unsuccessful candidates for “feedback on why they missed out on the position” OR even “feedback on how they can improve for the future”……..Now this may surprise a lot of people…..But I DO NOT give “feedback” any more!!!


Why you ask?……It is ALWAYS a trap!!!…….human nature and psychology simply get in the way.


Most candidates that make it through to the interview stage, are highly invested in the role…..You genuinely want the role…..and potentially believe that you’re the best candidate for the role…..which is how it should be.


Therefore, the fact that you didn’t get the role is upsetting…..disappointing…..and frustrating. We spend more time at work then we do with our loved ones…..and employment is what pays the bills!!!


So receiving information that you PERCEIVE as negative and critical leads to an automatic response of DEFENSE…..this displays itself by arguing against that information (eg “but I have done exactly that in a previous job”), disbelief (eg “but I didn’t get any sense of negativity in the interview – it went REALLY well”) and desperation (eg “I can send you examples of my work…OR….if I could just speak directly with the Manager…”).


Over the years I have tried many methods to deliver CONSTRUCTIVE FEEDBACK and INFORMATION to unsuccessful candidates in order to try and assist them…..I’ve always been mindful of my tone of voice, how I word the information….and even trying to put in in a “positive sandwich” (ie start with a positive…then the not so positive….and then another positive)….but nothing really works…..I ALWAYS end up with an agitated and sometimes aggressive candidate.


Having made the decision quite a number of years ago – not to provide REAL FEEDBACK to candidates any more…..I recently broke my rule as I felt that this particular candidate genuinely wanted it…..needed it….and was at a professional level to be able to handle it…..I was wrong.


In this instance, I let the candidate in question know that my client said that she came across well in the interview and seems to be a lovely person…..but they felt that she would struggle technically to keep up with the hectic nature of the work – which is what my client told me. This candidate argued with me, saying that my client didn’t say anything like that during the interview – and in fact it went really well… there must be another reason that I’m not saying. I assured her that this was not the case – and that areas of concern such as this are rarely raised during an interview. She sent me a follow up text message well outside of work hours – which I didn’t respond to – asking me to go back to my client to get more information. She then sent an email to my client directly with an EXTENSIVE outline of why she is right for the role. My client had actually taken that day off to attend a funeral, so was particularly disappointed to receive this email and simply passed it back to me. When I phoned that candidate again to reiterate my initial feedback and to express my disappointment that she had disturbed my client…..she was even more aggressive and blaming me!!! The conversation ended with me simply hanging up the phone after telling her that she wasn’t listening and I had nothing else to add.


So my tips to candidates who ask for feedback:

  • Do a double check with yourself and ask “do I REALLY want feedback – am I willing to listen and take on board the feedback – will I take action based on the feedback”?……if the answer to any of these is “no” or “maybe”…..then don’t……ask the question.
  • Listen to what you are being told…..don’t interrupt or argue……remember you asked for the feedback.
  • Stay calm and don’t allow yourself to become defensive……the Hiring Manager has no reason or agenda to try an insult you or put you down…..I guarantee that they would prefer not to have this conversation.
  • Ask constructive questions only…..Do not attack or barrage the person giving the feedback…..again…. remember you asked for the feedback.
  • Thank the person for their time and honesty.
  • Take time to process the information you received – put it into context for yourself – and find a way to apply it for the future.

Make sure you’re following on Facebook ( as I’ll share some other great tips and information.


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