There’s no doubt about it: Job interviews can feel incredibly transactional, especially if you’ve gone through a number of them without getting an offer or finding the right fit for your career goals. But like any other learning process, interviewing is a skill that can be improved with practice—and getting external feedback is not only important to understanding how your actions and answers are perceived, but can also help you to hone your technique much more quickly than by trial and error.
That said, asking for feedback can be uncomfortable, particularly if it’s not something you’ve done before. These tips can help you to get the feedback you’re looking for, either during the interview or after you’ve received a response (positive or negative).
Some interview experts are big proponents of asking for live feedback, but it’s up to you to judge the situation—including your level of comfort—and to decide whether it’s appropriate given the context.
An obvious consideration before you ask is whether there’s still time in the interview. While interviewers often leave candidates time to ask questions, you’ll need to consider whether there are higher-priority questions you’d like answered before diving into how you performed in the past 30 minutes or so.
You should also try to gauge whether your interviewer seems like someone who would prefer to give feedback in the moment, as opposed to over email and likely through a recruiter after the fact. On the one hand, he or she may prefer to get it off their plate as soon as possible and may appreciate your openness to feedback. Conversely, some people may feel uncomfortable giving you direct comments, and would likely deliver more thoughtful feedback if given the time to reflect after the conversation.
Your approach might look something like this:
Getting live feedback may benefit you by helping to establish rapport with your interviewer (as this type of conversation can make it feel almost as if you’re already working alongside them), as well as potentially giving you a chance to address concerns that he or she raises. That said, tread lightly if you think there’s been a misunderstanding—you don’t want to come off as defensive, but rather able to respond in a levelheaded way.
Asking for feedback after an interview is generally in response to a negative result, as chances are there won’t be much negative to say if you end up with a job offer. That said, even if you do receive an offer, there’s nothing to say you can’t ask for feedback in order to improve your interviewing in the future. Given it’s generally a more difficult ask if you’ve been rejected, this section will focus on how to ask for feedback when you haven’t landed the job.
To begin with, the feedback you receive will generally be more valuable the further along in the interview process you’ve gotten. If you’ve only had a phone interview, for example, don’t expect an in-depth response: If you’ve been through a few rounds, however, the team will have gotten to know you and your skillset better, and should have some more valuable thoughts to share on why it wasn’t the right fit this time around.
If the recruiter or hiring manager delivers the outcome over the phone, it’s generally a good idea to ask for feedback then and there. If it’s over email, try to respond with your request in a timely fashion so that your interview is still top of mind.
Regardless of when you ask, you can follow the same general approach as outlined above. You might also consider these questions/tactics:
While it can be daunting to ask for feedback regardless of the timing or method, remember that the worst they can say is that there’s nothing to share—so there’s really not much to lose. Give it a try next time you interview: chances are, it’ll be easier and more insightful than you might expect.