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Learning from rejection: The importance of employer feedback

21 Dec 2023, 10:45

Person on the phone

Most candidates don’t ask for feedback after being rejected for a job. However, this is an opportunity missed. Asking for the recruiter’s thoughts on your performance can help you improve and better your chances in the future. It is best to focus your questions on what you can do better next time rather than focusing on what happened in the past.

Email template | How to respond to feedback

Do I ask for feedback if I didn’t get an interview?

Unfortunately, many large graduate employers only offer feedback to those who reach the final stages of the recruitment process. The large number of applications they receive make it very difficult for them to give individual feedback to every unsuccessful candidate. However, unless the rejection email specifically states that they are unable to provide feedback, you lose nothing by asking politely.

Recruiters that make use of online application forms or online tests sometimes use their technology to provide you with the results of your tests. Some employers might give you a broad indication of the areas in which you can improve but are unable to go through the application in more detail with you. Every employer is different, so the best way to find out is to ask.

Asking for feedback after a job rejection

Some recruiters choose to call unsuccessful candidates, however job rejections via email are more common, even if you’ve reached the final stages or the process. Some recruiters give feedback immediately after telling you that you have been unsuccessful, others are happy to talk through performance. If this is offered, be sure to take it up. They may give you the chance to book a call rather than sending feedback over email.

Even if the rejection email doesn’t mention feedback, it’s still worth requesting it by emailing the interviewer or recruiter. You might not receive feedback immediately as it may take the recruitment team some time to compile it for you. If you don’t hear back after a week or so, you can follow up. If after following up, you still don’t hear back, you can assume that the employer is unable to provide feedback.

Asking for feedback after a job rejection – sample email

Subject line: Interview feedback request – [your name]

Dear [recruiter’s name],

Thank you for considering me for the role of [job title]. I got to [stage] in the recruitment process and really appreciated the opportunity to learn more about [employer name]. I wonder if you would be able to provide any feedback on how I could improve for future applications.

Thank you in advance for taking the time to do this.


[Your name]

How to respond to the feedback

If the feedback is being provided over the phone, listen carefully to what is being said and take notes that you can refer to. Remember to thank the recruiter or interviewer for the feedback. Keep in mind that just because you have been rejected for a role, does not mean you’ve done something wrong. It’s possible that there was another candidate that recruiters thought would be a better fit for the job. Let them know if you’re still interested in the company, especially if the feedback was mostly positive. This will help you build good rapport with the interviewers which might give you an advantage if a more suitable position comes up in the future.

The employer may simply tell you that another candidate matched their requirements better or had more relevant experience. If this is the case, you can politely ask them in what ways other candidates were a better match or you can ask them for suggestions on how to further develop and showcase your skills or gain more experience.

If you disagree with the feedback, don’t challenge them or be defensive. They’ve already made the decision and it is not going to change. Try and think about their comments objectively and consider why the recruiter could have come to those conclusions.

Other ways to get feedback

If you do not get feedback from recruiters, try reaching out to your careers service or people in your network such as professional and recruiter connections on LinkedIn. Show them the job description and your application and tell them about the interview so that they can offer a second opinion.

you can also ask your careers service for a CV review or mock interview before you apply or attend an interview for a job.

Find out more about responding to job rejections.

gradireland editorial advice

This describes editorially independent and impartial content, which has been written and edited by the gradireland content team. Any external contributors featuring in the article are in line with our non-advertorial policy, by which we mean that we do not promote one organisation over another.

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