How to Find Out Why You Didn't Get the Job

After you’ve spent your time and energy interviewing, it’s disappointing to find out you didn’t get the job. It’s a roller coaster of emotions - getting your hopes up and feeling excited, just to get rejected.

But not getting the job doesn’t have to be a negative thing. In fact, it’s a great opportunity for personal growth. Feedback is one of the best tools you have to learn how to improve, so don’t be afraid to reach out to the company to find out why you didn’t get the job.

Here are a few tips to help you get feedback so you know what to do next time.

1. Go directly to the source.

If you want feedback about why the company turned you down, go directly to the hiring manager. They’re more likely to give you a candid response. An HR manager or recruiter usually gives more general responses like "we found a candidate that was a better fit for our needs."

2. Send an email. Don’t call or message on LinkedIn.

Since you've already interviewed with the hiring manager and built rapport, sending an email is the best way to communicate. A phone call tends to put someone on the spot and doesn’t give them a chance to think through their response. And if you send a message on LinkedIn, they may not see the message right away and you risk getting a delayed response.

3. Ask for specific feedback, but don’t be demanding of their time.

As you craft your email, use the phrase "quick follow up" as the subject. Keep your email to no more than one paragraph and make sure it’s positive and appreciative. In the email ask to 2-3 specific questions you would like feedback on from the interview process. Keep in mind the more specific your questions are, the more specific their answer will be.

Ask your questions from a personal growth standpoint. Don't ask questions that focus on "why" you didn't get the job, but rather on "how" you can improve. People are more likely to respond to someone who seeks out growth opportunities as opposed to someone who just wants answers.

4. Ask who else they know.

Always end the email by asking if they know of anyone else you can reach out to as you continue your job search. Use this as an opportunity to network. You never know who they might know.

Here’s an example email asking you could send to the hiring manager.


Hi (Hiring Manager),

I wanted to thank you for the amazing opportunity to interview for the position of (job title) with your company. I really enjoyed learning about (company name) and getting to know you and your team during the interview process. I understand you have decided to move forward with another candidate that better fits your current needs.

As I continue my job search, I would love to get your feedback on how I can improve as a candidate. When you have a minute, could you provide insight into what I can improve upon to help me stand out and progress in my career? Specifically, I would appreciate feedback on the following:

1. What is the one skill I can improve upon to help advance my career that may be holding me back?

2. If I had the opportunity to redo my interview, what is the one thing I should have done differently?

I appreciate any candid feedback you can offer, as it will help me understand the areas I need to improve. Additionally, if you know of any companies that may be hiring for similar positions or anyone else I should reach out to as I continue my job search, please let me know.

Again, thank you for the opportunity to interview for the position. I wish you and your team continued success.


Your Name

Rejection isn’t easy, but you can use it as a learning experience. So when it comes to asking for feedback, make sure your questions are specific. Be clear that you’re looking for ways to improve and keep your email short. 

To read more about this topic, check out this article I contributed to for Glassdoor.