This was a question that someone messaged me via our Facebook Page. Before I answered the question, I thought “Why not open up the question to the rest of the staff? They’re all career experts and most likely have some type of experience with this question or helping someone answer this question before.”
I sent out an email with the person’s question and in return, received several different and prospective pieces of advice:
Samuel Garcia – Workshop Facilitator
There are excellent candidates who simply do not know how to effectively communicate their benefits to employers. If the employer did not see those benefits that you know you have and you ask such a question, your are both communicating at different levels and will not connect where it really matters. In such a case the question may not be fruitful.
But let’s face it, when all is said and done …
I would encourage job seekers to ask the question anyway and hope for some insights for the next round of job interviews, then move on to the next adventure.
Terrance Bowens – Workshop Facilitator
Its a great question to ask. Maybe they will answer, maybe they wont. What a jobseeker needs is feedback so they understand what they need to change in order to impress other HR people or interviewers.
If they say, “we hired someone who was a better fit” or “someone who had more experience with Excel” … those are all things that a seeker can apply to their job search or interview strategy. Things like focusing on work they actually qualify for, or showing how being overqualified can be a benefit instead of a liability, or even talking about how well they work with other people on teams or in groups instead of always talking about themselves and their own individual work.
There are many policies that companies have in place to prevent lawsuits around their hiring practices so they may be bound by company policy with regard to what they can share. That certainly isn’t an indicator of whether to work for a company or not.
They look fantastic on paper and are incredibly qualified but all thumbs when it comes to conveying that to others. In that moment, the problem is not the employers to deal with, its the candidates issue. And so if they want to get feedback from an employer, let them ask. If the employer gives the feedback, great! If not, COME TO A WORKSHOP…
Ziad Eskharia – BBSD Employment Specialist
Often times, I asked the same question when I wasn’t selected for the job. However, I came to learn and cope with the fact that certain things may not make us compatible with that employer. It might have been for the best I wasn’t selected vs. taking the job and not liking and that is just me thinking.
Laura Bowden – Business Services Representative
HR does not have to answer that question and most won’t or will give a vague answer like “we have hired someone that better fir our qualifications” (or a lie!), but it is certainly a legitimate question and it can’t hurt to try. Sometimes you will find an open HR Professional that will answer the question. Knowledge is always power.
I always suggest to my students or clients that in the interview that they ask (at the end of the interview)
and this avails an opportunity to address any concerns and perhaps change their perception of something missed in the interview.
Audra Collins – Resource Room Specialist
I agree, it’s perfectly fine to make such an inquiry…
Alita Hetland – Career Agent
I think it is completely fine to ask that question. I have clients who have done so and they learn how to do better the next time.
… you have nothing to lose and lots to gain.
Jordan Finklestein – Career Agent
Feedback to prospective employees on performance in interviews, skills testing and overall results of an interview/employment activity by the employer has virtually completely stopped for one reason and one reason only.
If a HR generalist, specialist or manager/interviewer says something like, “Well, we really don’t think you’d fit in with the group,” or “We were really looking for someone who scored a little higher on “x” test,” it’s grounds these days for an instant lawsuit by a candidate claiming discrimination (of any and all types) and anything else someone can come up with.
So, the basic answers one can expect to any post-interview questions are, sorry, we don’t provide feedback, and a candidate will either a) hear zero back at all and b) be lucky to get an email that says, “sorry, you were good, but we went with someone else.” Notice that there is no liability or discrimination potential in either of those scenarios. Which of course, is why even getting an email response after an interview is a modern day miracle.
There’s nothing wrong with asking.
The overall consensuses is that it doesn’t hurt to ask why you were not considered for the position. However, be aware that the employer may not answer your question or are they obligated to let you know. Sometimes you will get a generic response or just silence and silence, as uncomfortable and unnerving it can be, is something we all have to learn to embrace.
What advice would you give to someone who asked you this question?