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Responding to Feedback in the Hiring Process

For every job that is successfully filled, there are tens or hundreds of people (maybe even thousands) who were not selected. How you handle yourself and your response to being turned down for a job goes a long way in determining if you would be given a call from the same company or recruiter if something that fits your skillset arises.

Everyone says they want feedback as to why they were not selected but candidates need to be sure they are able to take constructive feedback when it is given. As an example, I was previously filling a Supply Chain position and had two different reactions to feedback that was being given when telling the candidate we would not be moving forward.

The first candidate was given feedback that they were lacking some of the forecasting experience that we wanted in the position. This was a leadership position where the person would be setting up supply chain processes and building forecast models, and the candidate did not have experience in doing so. The interview team asked numerous questions and gave ample opportunities to be able to speak on forecasting and the answers showed what we previously thought: this candidate would not be able to step in and do what we need. When I spoke with the candidate to reject them, I mentioned this aspect being the only glaring hole but it was an aspect that we had to have and recommended different ways to be able to gain the skillset needed (APICS classes and/or certifications, etc.). The response? “I have done this and so much more at companies that are much larger than this one and have led more people than what this position leads!! I really feel sorry for whoever gets this job because they will be miserable!”

The other candidate was overqualified for the position and taking it would mean making a lateral career move as opposed to taking the next step up. Their comp expectations were just outside of our range but they insisted they were interested because of the positive things they have seen and heard about the culture. This candidate was not selected because of a combination of things including comp expectations and concern over level of satisfaction in not making the next step up which is admittedly what they wanted. When I shared the feedback, I got a completely different response. “Cameron I really appreciate you taking the time to give me an update and give me honest feedback. As I thought about it, I agree that it wasn’t at the level I was looking for and completely understand where you all are coming from. I did enjoy learning everything about the company and the department and would be interested if something changed with the position and it moved to one with more responsibility. If you have anything in the future like that, please give me a call.”

The position ended up being put on hold, and guess what happened a couple months later? It was upgraded to one with more responsibility, higher compensation, etc. Guess who I called? Candidate two who we started in the process and hired shortly after. They were genuine in their response to previous feedback and didn’t try to tell us how dumb we were for not hiring them.

This is important for anyone who may be looking for a job. A “no” now does not mean it is a “no” forever. Positions get put on hold, filled internally, filled with another candidate who may have one thing that puts them over the edge, and you may not get selected for other reasons as well. If a company or recruiter takes the time to give you constructive feedback and be honest with you about why you were not selected, give them the same courtesy back. It could be the difference between you being turned down by a company as a whole and having no chance at another position or you being turned down for a specific reason for one position but being called for another position at the same company in the future because of the positive experience they had with you as a candidate. Be the second candidate!

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