Going through a long hiring process involves mixed feelings. From keeping up a positive attitude and energy to trying not to get hopes up, candidates still recognize that the longer you stay with the process, the more likely that they will make to the end and get the job. That is why those who get disqualified in later stages like, for example, when the competition is down to two or three candidates are often very disappointed and curious to know why.
Rarely do disqualified candidate get an answer or an explanation unless they explicitly ask for it. Still, some employers may not be responsive, however. But in all cases, the answer is well worth the try for one simple reason: the feedback can help them make it to the finish line next time.
Clearly, this is a sensitive situation and must be handled professionally. Here are a few tips on how to deal with a rejection:
You always should direct your question to your main human-resources contact or interviewer – the person you have been in touch with throughout the process. Trying to bypass this person to a more senior authority won’t help and can be seen as a complaint. Not only, your move may be taken as an attempt to pressure the decision-maker, the more senior person who may not be working closely with this specific hiring process likely will just support other staff’s decision and provide no significant feedback.
Being disappointed or even angry is justified. You may have spent significant time in this process or even dropped other job prospects because this one appeared close to materialize. Either way, this doesn’t mean losing your composure over not getting the job. This situation can be turned around into an opportunity to demonstrate your professionalism in dealing with a crisis. Remember, this is not the last job opportunity with this employer and keeping a final positive impression can give you a better chance when another opening comes along. In fact, many employers just go back to the list of finalists instead of beginning an entire new hiring process if two openings are being filled within a short period of time.
If you’re reaching out to know why you weren’t selected, you should know that the employer doesn’t have to answer. To increase the likelihood of getting a response, ask a brief, to-the-point question – whether by phone or e-mail. For example, you can write, “I will appreciate your feedback on why I wasn’t selected for this position.” Alternatively, you can ask about specific experience or skills, “Please let me know which skills or experience could have helped me get the job.” But adopting a constructive approach that you are taking a positive lesson from this experience and moving forward, you are likely to get an answer and perhaps an invitation back in the future.
If you’re planning to follow up, do it as early as possible – preferably within the first week after hearing about the decision. Getting back to the employer after a while is unlikely to get you a detailed thorough answer. In addition, you don’t want to publicize that you are still unemployed and lamenting your loss weeks later, for example. You may only be reinforcing the employer’s idea that you weren’t the right pick.
As mentioned, if the reason you were turned down is being under-qualified, ask for what skills or experience you’re lacking. If the reason is that you were over-qualified, know that the employer has formed a positive knowledge of your skills that may make you fit for another position. Either way, end the discussion or your written correspondence on positive note that reiterates your desire and acceptance to be considered for other positions.
People often feel hurt if after reaching out for an explanation, they get no response or explanation for why they were not selected. Taking this unresponsiveness personal won’t help, however. In many cases, the person on the other end may be concerned about putting anything in writing that may bring legal trouble or be just busy or uninterested. Regardless, trying to get this feedback – especially in cases when you almost made it – is worth the try. That is why, don’t be discouraged by one employer’s silence because another’s response may hand you the key to unlock future opportunities.
Rania Oteify, a former Gulf News Business Features Editor, is currently an editor based in Seattle.