Feedback Following the Interview is a Gift, NOT a Personal Attack

There is no doubt that people are emotionally invested in their career. How could they not be? A person’s career is one of the most important aspects of their life. However, sometimes people allow the degree of their emotional investment to impede the growth of their career. How so?

By not responding appropriately to feedback that’s given to them during the hiring process, specifically following face-to-face interviews.

Unfortunately, some professionals become defensive when presented with what they consider to be negative feedback. They often say the following (or variations thereof):

  • “I didn’t do that.”
  • “I didn’t say that.”
  • “The employer misunderstood what I said.”
  • “They employer misunderstood my intentions.”

A candidate once said the following to me: “The employer is stupid for not hiring me. I know more than they do.” Needless to say, that statement was not constructive in the least. All it did was illustrate the ignorance of the candidate and not the employer.

“All growth is painful”

The Principles of Success by Jack Canfield is an excellent book that all professionals should read. In that book, Canfield addresses the topic of feedback:

“Most people are afraid to ask for corrective feedback because they are afraid of what they are going to hear. But you’re better off knowing the truth than not knowing the truth. Once you know it, you can do something about it. You cannot fix what you don’t know is broken. You cannot improve your life, your relationships, your game, or your performance without feedback.”

So the one thing you certainly do NOT want to do is avoid feedback. When you avoid feedback, the only person you’re hurting is yourself. That’s because you can not improve something if you don’t know what that something is. And if you’re not able to make improvements, then you’re not able to grow.

However, even if you don’t avoid feedback, you can still stunt your growth by not responding appropriately to that feedback. Being defensive is counterproductive for a number of reasons:

  • You focus more on what you perceive to be a slight or even a personal attack than on the feedback itself.
  • You don’t take steps to make the improvements that are necessary to progress.
  • The person providing the feedback will be less inclined to continue providing feedback.

Yes, sometimes feedback can be humbling. However, honest feedback is necessary for true growth. There’s a saying that states, “All growth is painful.” That applies to not only to physical growth, but also to professional growth.

Two-step process for success

So where does that leave us? It leaves us with a clear path to take. If it’s a bad idea to run from honest feedback, then it must be a good idea to run toward it! (That might be an exaggeration, but not by much.) The Principles of Success advocates two specific steps when it comes to feedback. Those steps are as follows:

#1—SEEK out feedback.

That’s right, actually ask people for feedback. You do this knowing full well that they may provide feedback that is unsavory. But that’s exactly the type of feedback you need to hear! Feedback is not to be avoided; it is to be embraced.

#2—Be grateful for the feedback that you do receive.

Not only should you be grateful for the feedback, but you should also express that gratitude. Thank the person who provided it, and be genuine about it. The last thing you want to do is sound sarcastic. People who provide honest feedback are doing a great service for you. It’s nearly impossible for a person to know all of their weaknesses.

So let’s return to the subject of the feedback you might receive following a face-to-face interview. First, if you’re working with a recruiter, you’re more likely to receive feedback. If you aren’t working with a search consultant, then chances are good that you won’t receive much in the way of feedback from the organization. More than likely, you simply won’t hear from them again. Such a situation is doubly troubling. That’s because not only did you not receive an offer of employment, but you also did not receive any feedback that would help you to improve your interviewing skills and job search.

The Principles of Success is absolutely correct: feedback is a gift. That’s especially the case when that feedback is provided by a search consultant during a job interview process. Below are just a few of the reasons that this is the case:

  • The recruiter knows what works and what doesn’t work in terms of the hiring process, including the interviewing stage. Their feedback is based not just on what the company said, but also on their extensive experience.
  • The recruiter can make specific recommendations for improvement. More than likely, they’ve encountered similar situations before. As a result, you can leverage their knowledge and subsequent advice.
  • If the recruiter sees that you handle the feedback in a positive fashion, they’ll be more confident in presenting you to their clients for future opportunities. For a recruiter, the candidates that they represent are a reflection of them. They want to represent candidates who handle feedback well.

There’s nothing wrong with being emotionally invested in your career. However, allowing emotions to cloud your judgement at inopportune times can be costly in terms of growth opportunities and ultimately career advancement. That’s why it’s important to first align yourself with an experienced recruiter in your field and then to rely upon their expertise during the hiring process.

Feedback is not a personal attack. When viewed in the proper manner, it’s a gift. Namely, it provides an opportunity for you to identify areas of weakness, take steps to remedy those areas, and improve your chances for job search success and career satisfaction.

We help support careers in one of two ways: 1. By helping to find the right opportunity when the time is right, and 2. By helping to recruit top talent for the critical needs of organizations. If this is something you would like to explore further, please send an email to stacy@thevetrecruiter.com.