The Mid-Career GPS Podcast

233: Decoding the Silence: Strategies for Understanding and Seeking Job Interview Feedback

March 19, 2024 John Neral Season 4
The Mid-Career GPS Podcast
233: Decoding the Silence: Strategies for Understanding and Seeking Job Interview Feedback
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Have you ever struggled with the silence that follows a job interview? You're not alone, and I'm here to explore why that void exists. In this episode, I'll help you navigate the perplexing world of job interview feedback—or the noticeable absence of it. We're taking a hard look at why your inbox stays empty after you've poured your heart into an interview and why the real message often lies in the outcome itself—a job offer or the lack thereof. 

As a seasoned career coach and a former hiring manager, I peel back the layers of legal concerns, fairness in hiring, and the expectations that candidates should recalibrate when it comes to feedback.

Now, let's talk tactics. When the response you crave isn't forthcoming, I share strategic ways to elicit constructive criticism, and the art of framing questions that can coax valuable insights from even the tightest-lipped employers. Plus, I'll recount a telling tale from my own experience on an interview panel, throwing light on how subjective this whole process can be, and how minor slip-ups may not necessarily seal your fate. So, if you're ready to shift your perspective and leverage every post-interview scenario to your advantage—regardless of how much (or how little) feedback you receive—this is the conversation you need to hear.

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John Neral:

Have you ever complained to someone how you got turned down after a job interview and never got any feedback? You're not alone. In fact, practically every job seeker often complains about the lack of feedback they get after a job interview. But here's the thing you do get feedback. You're either offered the job or you're not. That's the feedback. One of the most frustrating things you will endure in your job search is the lack of feedback you receive after an interview, and there are reasons why you don't get that feedback, and there are some things you can do to help you get a little more feedback other than that standard copy and pasted for email. So in this episode I'm going to break it down for you. I'm going to help you unpack this process, your thoughts about it and hopefully get you much better feedback so you can navigate your mid-career GPS to that job you are going to love. Let's get started. Hello, my friends, this is the Mid-Career GPS podcast. I'm your John Neral. I help mid-career professionals find a job they love, or love the job they have, using my proven four step formula.

John Neral:

Well before we get into today's episode, I'm curious as to how many of you have been on the job before. I'm curious as to how many of you are dealing with summer allergies like me. Oh, I had to take a knee a little bit toward the end of last week and just give myself some time to rest and recover a bit. It just seems like year after year, these allergies tend to get a little bit worse than they have the year before. But I love the spring. It's my favorite season in the entire year, so I love the change in season. We're now in daylight savings time for those of you who live in states where you follow that, so it's just lighter later and I love that piece. So just embracing all of the things that spring has to give us this year. And, of course, when we think of spring, we think of new life and new beginnings, and for many of you, that means new jobs, and if you're looking for a new job, that means you're interviewing, and if you're interviewing, you might be a little frustrated in that process. So I want to take some time today in this episode and unpack this process with you, because I am hearing more and more from my network the people whom I'm connected with on LinkedIn and my clients, where they're frustrated in this entire interview process, and so I want to peel back the curtain a little bit for you, both from my perspective and experience as a career coach someone who's also sought after jobs during his career but also as a hiring manager that I was for several organizations in my career. And so, before we get into this, I want to offer you this piece.

John Neral:

Some of you air quotes around. Some of you because not all of you, but some of you think that because you've applied and interviewed for a job with a particular company or organization that you are owed feedback. And you think that you're owed feedback because you've gotten through the first, second, third, fourth, maybe even fifth round or later and you think you're deserving of feedback. And I'm here to tell you you are not. The feedback you are given is either you have moved forward or you haven't. That's the feedback. And if you're thinking that this is an opportunity for you in this episode to get clarity about why you think you deserve more feedback than what you are getting, perhaps you are thinking it's about companies being nice and it's the right thing to do, and if that's the case, I need you to pause here, because companies don't owe you any feedback, and here's why the primary concern on the company's part is for legal reasons. I have heard this repeatedly from my HR colleagues and friends and it makes absolute sense.

John Neral:

Companies follow a standardized process for hiring and in that, there are policies limit information that is shared with candidates in order to maintain a fair and equitable process for everyone. What that means is that they can't provide you with feedback, and not to everybody else. When you think about the hundreds of people who are perhaps applying for a given job and the dozens of people who are interviewing. If companies are doing their best to ensure that they are providing the same experience for everyone, that means they're being asked the same questions to all of the candidates. There's a hiring committee or panel of interviews who are scoring and rating each candidate and then moving them along to the hiring manager, providing that kind of detailed feedback that you crave. It can be risky for companies due to potential legal implications. And, yes, this process can vary depending on the size of the organization. If you're interviewing with a smaller company, you might be able to get some feedback, or they may have a little more bandwidth than others. Same thing may be true or not for a larger company, but the key thing here is that your thoughts about being jilted or jaded or disrespected in this process. I need you to understand the context as to why companies do not provide that kind of feedback.

John Neral:

Now, I have talked before a little bit on this podcast about ghosting and why ghosting is extremely frustrating and it's not something I want to see companies do. I firmly believe that if you have moved along in the process and you have been invited to an interview whether it is with the recruiter, an HR representative, the hiring manager after that interview, you should be notified about your status. Your status is either thank you for interviewing, we've decided to go in a different direction, or you are not moving on to the next round of interviews, or thank you very much, we enjoyed the conversation. We'd love to talk to you further. I do believe that absolutely needs to happen in the job hiring process. But other than that, if you are expecting someone to sit down with you and go through your entire interview and feedback about what you could be doing differently or what you could be doing better, that is not going to happen. And if you are expecting companies to do that because you have volunteered to be part of this hiring process, my friends, you are gravely and grossly mistaken.

John Neral:

In my professional opinion, that is an opportunity to clear up your thoughts about why you feel you are owed that. That is very different than being strung along or ghosted. I want to be really clear about that. Do you need to be treated fairly and equitably? But getting feedback isn't part of that.

John Neral:

When I was hiring talent and I partnered with the HR professionals in the various organizations where I did this, it really opened my eyes to the time constraints that they have. They simply just don't have the bandwidth to take care of everyone for everybody who's applied to every single position within their organization, especially when it's early on in the process. They simply cannot do that. The other thing to consider is that, whoever interviewing you, they're having to fit that interview in to everything else they've got going on in their day, their projects, their work, deliverables. Oftentimes, when people are asked to interview, that's in addition to the things they are already doing day in and day out. To think that they're going to be able to drop what they're doing and answer your email and provide you with that detailed feedback you desire to help you with your next interview. They're moving on to the next person. They're moving on to the next task they need to do. Again, this isn't personal, but it is part of the process.

John Neral:

Hey there. Have you ever been hesitant to like a LinkedIn post about finding a new job because you're fearful of being seen by your employer or colleague? I get it. I see you, my friend. Since you're already listening to this podcast, I want to help you get an even bigger win in your career. To do that, I'm inviting you to join my free email community and subscribe to the mid-career GPS newsletter. It's delivered to your inbox twice each week with helpful tips, strategies and resources to help you find that job you love, or love the job you have. It's all free and you can subscribe by visiting my website at https://johnneral. com. Check the show notes or my LinkedIn.

John Neral:

For now, let's get back to the episode. All right, for all my Golden Girls fans out there, here we go. Picture it job interview 2024,. Insert city where you're located.

John Neral:

You go through you interview for a job. You're really happy with how you interviewed and, admittedly, you're saddened and disappointed that you aren't moving forward. In fact, you felt like you gave one of the best interviews of your career and yet they went with somebody else. Understandably, you reach back out and say, hey, I really enjoyed the process. I thought we had a great interview. Is there any feedback you can give me? That's the wrong question to ask, by the way, because that's a binary answer. It's either yes or no. If you're going to ask, you want to ask a much more specific question. Maybe it has to relate to your experience or your answer to a particular question.

John Neral:

But again, from the company side, here is why they are not likely to give you detailed feedback. They're afraid of confrontation. Now, it's not confrontation that they've done anything wrong. It's confrontation in that you so strongly believe you're the best candidate for the job and they don't. They interviewed somebody who they felt was a much better fit, had much better experience. So they often feel like they're now going into a losing battle because now you basically ask them to convince you why you're not the best candidate for the job. They're not going to do that. They're just not.

John Neral:

If you're looking for feedback to potentially re-interview for that job, you are gravely mistaken. They have already moved on. The only way you are going to get back into the mix and consideration, especially if this was a final round interview, is if their number one selected candidate turns them down and they decide to offer it to number two or number three. Hopefully you are number two or number three in that process. You don't have to be the first selected candidate, you just need to be the one that's offered the job. But companies are not going to go into war with you or battle with you because they've already made a decision about why you're not the best fit for the position. Because what'll happen? You'll now start to convince them. But I have this, and now you may even start sharing things that you didn't in the interview. That's on you, that's not on them. They do not have time to hear you plead your case again. You got one shot and you took it, and that was in the interview. So keep in mind that interviews are about feedback and they are about judgment. They're interviewing people to see who they believe is going to be the best fit for the job, and so feedback is subjective.

John Neral:

I have sat on interview panels where we have had heated and intense discussions about why I liked a candidate and other people didn't, and vice versa. I remember serving on a small interview panel and we had interviewed this candidate for a job and they cursed several times during the interview. Now, looking back on it. It is a little humorous to me because this person had a situation where their cell phone kept going off and it was their immediate reaction to the fact they thought they had put their phone on silent and didn't, and so their phone's going off and they F-bombed and they S-bombed and I remember sitting there saying to myself okay, this is for a sixth grade teaching position. Is this the person we think is the best fit for the job? So it's one of the most memorable interviews I've ever had, not just because they dropped some profanity, but because of what happened after.

John Neral:

So I was walking the candidate out of the central office and they looked at me and I really applaud them for this. They looked at me and they said there's no way in hell I'm getting this job right. So look, you asked me a great question, I'm gonna give you a great answer. And I looked at them and I said, yeah, probably not. And I said look, I'm just gonna tell you this. You're gonna get in your car and you're gonna drive away from this interview and you're going to think that the reason why you're not getting offered this job is because of your choice of profanity during the interview. And they looked at me and I went well, yeah, that's part of it, I said, but I'll be it aside. Here were some other gaps in the interview and I felt compelled to tell this person that feedback because I didn't want them to drive away thinking that the sole reason why they weren't getting the job was because they used a couple of colorful words.

John Neral:

So, yeah, it depends on your situation and circumstance with how you're going to get feedback, and so I wanna go back to this, this point earlier, which is it really depends on how well you ask the question, and this is where your network can come into play. So let's say you're interviewing at a particular company and you know someone inside of that company who is directly connected to the hiring manager or the interview panel. You may be able to ask them for some intel as to why you weren't selected. They might be able to get some information in that regard. Additionally, you can ask the interviewer if they could share something specific related to a particular question and see if they will react to it.

John Neral:

Your question shouldn't be can you tell me why I didn't get the job? That's too loaded of a question and it's too much for them to answer. But if you were to follow up and say something like as I've been reflecting on the interview and realizing why I wasn't selected, would you please tell me if insert a specific skill gap data point example that that is something I need to strengthen or improve the next time I interview? They still may not answer that, nor are they obligated to answer it, but if you're gonna go after for some feedback, you're gonna go after that feedback. Do it in a way that is clear, clean and easy for them to respond to, to give you the greatest chance of getting some type of feedback. Even if you get a generated form email where somebody added in an extra sentence or two, even if it means, look, we went with somebody who had more experience, that's something which you then have a greater idea as to why you weren't selected. That is far more than a lot of people get, but at least you have some information that informs and helps you prepare for your next interview. So, my friends, I want to leave you with this If you want feedback on how you are interviewing, consider hiring a coach or enlisting the help of a trusted or experienced hiring manager or interviewer to help you.

John Neral:

Do not rely or expect the company you just interviewed for to help you fine-tune your interview skills. When you go in for that interview, it is showtime Come on. You go in at your best, promoting your best to help you show up as the best candidate possible for them to decide if you are the best fit. And then, as I've talked previously on the podcast, once you get the offer, you get to decide if they're truly the best fit for you. It's one of the things that I develop in my one-on-one coaching with my private coaching clients is that we go through interview preparation and I coach them on the interviews. Keep in mind, through my career experience as a hiring manager, I have been trained.

John Neral:

My ear is finely tuned to pick up on what people say and what they don't, as well as how they say things, and this comes from years of experience interviewing candidates and coaching clients. I interviewed candidates across six different organizations and in seven years of my coaching practice. It is something with which I truly enjoy doing with my private coaching clients, because the takeaways and the a-has that they get from that interview coaching session is one where they say, oh my gosh, I didn't realize I was doing that, or oh, I thought that was a really great answer and now you're telling me I should have added this, or I have a tendency to ramble my nerves, get the best of me. If you get nervous in an interview, first of all you care, that's great. You're supposed to get nervous, but you are supposed to eventually get those nerves under control.

John Neral:

And if you're listening to this episode and going, well, I'm not getting interviews because I'm too nervous. I'm going to offer you one. Do some work on calming the nerves. But secondly, you're nervous because you're not believing your story. You're not believing you're the best candidate for the job. You're selling yourself short in some way and that you finally get to that interview and now you feel like you have to convince them. When you got to convince people, you get nervous, so you're not showing up as your best self. So if you want some help with interview coaching, I would highly offer you that.

John Neral:

The investment in hiring a coach to help you work through your interviews and help you show up better and more effective during those interviews is a great investment that will yield immediate benefits for the next job you go interview for. But for every job you interview after that, the results are absolutely incredible. And if that's something I can help you with. By all means, feel free to reach out and message me. All right.

John Neral:

So as we wrap up this episode, here's a few things to keep in mind. Number one remember companies already gave you feedback on your job interview. They either said yeah to you or they said nay, right, that's your feedback. Companies are not obligated, nor are they expected, to give you feedback after your interview, in part because of standardizing their processes, legal reasons or implications and time constraints. They're busy too. Right. And then, finally, if you are going to seek feedback, do it in a way that is, one specific and targeted question to see if you can get the reasons as to why you didn't move forward. And then, lastly, consider enlisting the help of someone, a coach such as myself or somebody else, to help you be sharper and better on your next interview.

John Neral:

All right, my friends, until next time, remember this you will build your mid-career GPS one mile or one step at a time, and how you show up matters. Make it a great rest of your day. Thank you for listening to the Mid-Career GPS Podcast. Make sure to follow on your favorite listening platform and, if you have a moment, I'd love to hear your comments on Apple Podcast. Visit JohnNarrowcom for more information about how I can help you build your mid-career GPS or how I can help you and your organization with your next workshop or public speaking event. And don't forget to connect with me on LinkedIn and follow me on social at JohnNarrowCoaching. I look forward to being back with you next week. Until then, take care and remember how we show up matters.

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