Sometimes as jobseekers and more generally in life we’re afraid to ask the difficult questions – we pretend that all is well and bury our head in the sand just like the proverbial ostrich!
This is really the opposite of what you ought to do because if you’re struggling to find success in the job market one of the best ways to improve your situation is to ask questions of others and of yourself.
Let’s look at a quick example:
Peter has an interview and receives news by letter that he has been unsuccessful. He bows his head and thinks “typical” or “they know nothing anyway” and carries on his search.
On the other hand, Jane, who is applying for the same job and is also turned down, thinks to herself “no problem, I’m unlikely to be offered every job but what can I learn from this experience to improve my jobseeker game?” Jane goes back to the company who rejected her and asks for specific feedback – feedback she can learn from and use to her advantage in future interviews.
While Peter adopts the ‘ostrich method’, Jane prefers to follow the path of the successful jobseeker!
There are a number of reasons why Jane’s approach is so much more powerful than Peter’s.
- Feedback will give Jane clues as to where she performed well and where she could have done better. If collected consistently it will give her the data to fine-tune her performance going forwards. You see there is no such thing as perfection, there is only getting better or getting worse. Peter who chooses to do nothing is actually getting worse as it’s likely he’s reinforcing bad behaviours with every interview he attends.
- When you drive your car you have blind spots, things that are obscured from your line of sight – we all have these in life too. We’re not conscious of all that we do or fail to do and can gain great value in taking advice from others. Sometimes unless we ask we never know and are unable to make changes for the better.
- Obtaining feedback shows an employer that you value their opinion; it also shows them that you value yourself enough to want to make improvements. This is a very positive trait and one that will impress. It also gives you an opportunity to address any reservations or clarify any points not covered or misinterpreted at the interview – it’s potentially an opportunity for you to get back on the shortlist!
Wherever possible try and get feedback on the phone, or even better in person. This is so much better than email or letter as it facilitates a two-way conversation – remember though, you should still be doing most of the listening!
Interviewers might be reluctant to provide feedback as they’re too busy or worry how you may react. The following phrase frames the question appropriately to address both of these concerns – try it and see how well it works!
‘Thank you very much for interviewing me recently for the (insert job title) position. I appreciate that you are busy and that I was unsuccessful but would really value your feedback on my performance to help me make improvements going forwards. Please be as direct as you can, I won’t be offended – I really appreciate your help.”
Finally, a word of caution – when you ask for feedback you must accept it even if you strongly disagree with what you hear. You’ve done the asking and as such must welcome the response, however it sounds to you. The worst thing to do is argue back. It is however fine to clarify points though, as explained above.
Having obtained the feedback make sure you thank the person who has given it to you and move on with your job search more empowered and far better for it.
Successful people ask more of the right questions, more often and of more people – successful jobseekers do the same!