Asking for Feedback After a Job Rejection: Do’s and Don’ts

By Biron Clark


After Your Interview

Biron Clark

Biron Clark

Writer & Career Coach


If you’re looking for advice on asking for feedback after a job rejection, you’re in the right place. I’m going to walk you through exactly how to ask employers for feedback, so you can improve and get hired faster. What we’ll cover:

  • When to ask for feedback after getting rejected
  • Should you ask via phone or email?
  • What to say when you ask
  • Mistakes to avoid when asking

When and How to Ask for Feedback After a Job Rejection

Let’s Start With When to Ask…

I’d recommend asking the employer for feedback soon after they tell you they decided not to hire you. If you receive a rejection email, I’d respond within 24 hours (wait at least a few hours though; you don’t want to sound desperate or panicked). If they call you and tell you the bad news over the phone, ask for feedback right on that phone call. And we’ll talk about exactly how to do that in a second.

One last scenario: If they call you, and you aren’t able to answer so they left a voicemail, I’d call them back to ask for feedback on the phone. If you’d prefer to write an email, you can, but I think calling is better. Call during business hours, and if you don’t reach them, hang up without leaving a voicemail. That way you can try back one more time to try to get them live on the phone. If not, you can leave a voicemail.

Now let’s talk about what to actually say when you ask them for feedback (and some things you should avoid doing)…

How to Ask for Feedback After a Job Rejection (by Phone or Email)

  1. Thank them for following up to tell you about their decision
  2. Explain that you’re always trying to improve yourself in your job search and career
  3. Ask if there was a piece of experience that they felt was lacking, or something you could do to present yourself better as a candidate in future interviews
  4. If you’re sending an email, end the email by thanking them again for their time and telling them you’d appreciate any feedback they can share
  5. If you’re on the phone, pause after asking and wait for them to respond. If they provide feedback, listen closely to what they say and take note (so you can improve in the future)
  6. If they don’t share anything after this, it’s very unlikely you’re going to get feedback. I’d recommend moving on

Now that you know how to ask for feedback after being rejected by an employer, here are a couple of things you definitely do not want to do…

How to Respond to a Rejection Email: Sample Script

We just covered the steps for how to respond to a job rejection email, so now let’s look at an email example:

Dear Name,

Thank you for following up and informing me of your decision.

One question: I’m always looking for ways to improve myself in my career. Was there a piece of experience that you felt was lacking, or a topic I could be presenting better in future interviews?

Any feedback you can share would be great and would help me continue to improve in my job search and career!

Thanks for your time,

Your Name 

If you structure your email like the sample above, you’ll sound professional and maximize your chances of getting useful, honest feedback when you respond to a rejection.

What NOT to Do When You Respond to a Job Rejection

If they’ve rejected you after an interview because your interview went badly, they aren’t going to change their minds now. So asking for feedback should be all about improving yourself, finding out what you could do differently in future interviews, or what skills and experiences you could look to add to your resume moving forward. This is not an argument, or a chance to persuade them one last time. It’s not going to work, and it’s going to make you look desperate.

So here are the top 4 things you should avoid doing when responding to a job rejection…

1. Don’t sound bitter or upset at the start of the call (or email)

How you start the call or email will make a big difference in the response you get. So make sure not to sound upset or bitter that they didn’t choose you. Try to sound calm and professional. You should already be focusing on other opportunities and applying for other jobs. This call or email is all about gathering info to help you get hired by those other employers. So you really need to sound like that.

2. Don’t try to change their mind

They’ve made their decision. One reason why it takes so long to hear back after an interview is that employers are careful in their decision. If they tell you that they decided to move in a different direction, they’ve made up their mind. So this call or email should not be about trying to change their mind. You’re gathering feedback and trying to get them to share information that will help you get *other* job offers. Arguing with them will not help you do that. So you don’t want to start the call by trying to persuade them to reconsider. That’s going to completely kill your chances of getting any useful feedback.

3. Don’t act desperate or beg

No matter what happens, don’t start sounding desperate, and don’t beg. It’s going to make them want to hire you even less (if a future position opens up, etc.) Leave things on good terms so they remember you as a great candidate that they can think of in the future for other positions. By doing this, you can also network with them in the future. Even if they don’t ever directly hire you, maybe they end up connecting you with somebody who does hire you in a few years.

4. Don’t “push back” on the feedback they give you

Part of asking for feedback or criticism is accepting it and listening to it (how else will you improve?) So if they share any feedback at all, thank them for it. Don’t argue or make a counter-argument.

Many employers will not provide any feedback after rejecting you. Even if you follow the steps here, you won’t get feedback from every employer.

Why? Company policies and advice from their lawyers often prevent HR and hiring managers from sharing much feedback. So as frustrating as this can be, realize that they do not have to share anything. And if they do share feedback, it really is a favor they’re doing, and a sign they’re a great company in terms of how they treat candidates.

This might be difficult to hear if you’re struggling to find a job, but getting angry at an employer that does take the time to give you feedback won’t help.

Leave the Door Open

I mentioned above that you shouldn’t be arguing or trying to persuade them to reconsider you for the job (because it won’t work). However, there’s nothing wrong with ending your call or email by saying:

“I really appreciate your time in this process even though it didn’t end up working out. If a different role opens up that you think I might be a better fit for, don’t hesitate to contact me. Thanks again for the time spent discussing this opportunity with me.”

That’s how you can leave the door open in a professional way… without arguing… without sounding angry… and without sounding needy or desperate.

Remember to Stay Positive and Use the Feedback To Improve

If you follow the steps above, you’ll be more likely to get feedback after job rejections. You’ll never get feedback from 100% of companies you ask, no matter how you respond to a job rejection – some employers just do not share this info. But you’ll have a much higher rate of success.

Then you can use the feedback to improve your interview skills and boost your chances of getting a job offer in your next interview!


Biron Clark

About the Author

Read more articles by Biron Clark

6 thoughts on “Asking for Feedback After a Job Rejection: Do’s and Don’ts”

  1. This has been the most frustrated I’ve ever been in regards to applying and being rejected for opportunities. All my turn downs have been via robo emails aka canned responses. I’m sure I can hunt down the hiring manager and reach out but that seems a bit desperate to me. Then again……

    Any feedback you can provide would be greatly appreciated

  2. Has this ever happened? Has anyone ever had a potential employer call them after an interview to tell them they *didn’t* get the job? That has never, ever happened to me or anyone I know and I think I would be shocked speechless if it did!

    • Yes, it happens. And second of all, you can call the employer directly. Or email. You have control over that. Don’t wait around or just give up. If you went on an interview, they owe you a response. Follow up and get it, and ask for that feedback! It takes 5 minutes to do all of this.

    • Thanks Biron!
      I have been through 2 interviews with national directors and than nothing.
      I have been waiting for now 10 days and did not know whether it’d be okay to call for an update.
      Patience is a virtue; but it’s been 10 days.

Comments are closed.