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How to Gather Feedback at Key Stages of the Hiring Process

Leslie Stevens-Huffman, Dice Insights

September 12, 2022

Although it may seem awkward at first, making a habit of asking for feedback after every round of the hiring process can significantly improve your chances of landing an offer. Asking for feedback changes the conversation from one-way to two-way and establishes the mutual goal of finding the right match for an open position.

Perhaps most importantly, receiving feedback allows you to know where you stand with a prospective employer, and make adjustments in time for the next round of interviews and testing. Here’s how to ask for feedback fluidly and confidently at key stages of the hiring process.

After an Initial Phone or Video Screen

The opportunity to ask for feedback is one you don’t want to waste, so keep an eye on the time and leave at least five minutes to ask for feedback at the end of an initial screen, advised Marlo Lyons, certified career coach and strategist and author of “Wanted – A New Career: The Definitive Playbook for Transitioning to a New Career or Finding Your Dream Job.”

You might not be comfortable asking “How did I do?” or “Do you have any concerns about my qualifications that would prevent me from moving forward?” If that’s the case, try easing into it.

Ask two consecutive questions. The first should be a lead-up question about the position, followed by a second question specifically about you, suggested Kevin Johnson, founder of several tech startups.

Here are two examples:

  • Beyond Python and SQL, are there any other major requirements for the position? Do you think my experience is a good match?
  • Have you been finding candidates with Python experience and a deep understanding of the Google Cloud Platform environment? How do my qualifications compare with the other candidates you’ve talked to?

One of your main objectives is to end the interview with at least a 75 percent certainty of whether or not you’ll move on to the next step, Johnson said. If the interviewer seems reluctant to provide feedback, it could be a sign they don’t think you’re a good fit for the position.

However, if they indicate that you will be moving forward, ask: “Is there is anything specific I should focus on in the next interview?”

Receiving feedback can shed light on any weaknesses or shortcomings you need to prep for and focus on in the next round.

During a Technical Evaluation

Opening the door to feedback at the beginning of a whiteboard test or technical interview may encourage a climate of open communication, collaboration and coaching that enhances your chances of success. For instance, you could say something like: “While I realize that this is an evaluation, I am always looking to improve my skills and learn from experts like you. Any comments, advice or suggestions will be appreciated.”

Throughout the session, ask temperature-checking questions such as:

  • “Is this the approach you’re looking for?”
  • “Am I on track?”
  • “How does this sound?”
  • “What do you think?”

Checking to see if your answers are on target or adequate at various times throughout every interview can give you a sense for how things are going, especially when the interviewer is hard to read.

Listen carefully to the coaching the evaluators provide and try to decode what they’re saying, Lyons said. Does it sound like they want you to pivot or approach the problem in a different way? Clarify your answer if needed. If you didn’t get white-listed for the next round of interviews, consider asking which key skills and technologies you need to improve on.

After an In-Person Interview

Hiring managers use in-person and virtual interviews to determine whether someone’s beliefs, values and behaviors are in alignment with the organization and team and make their final hiring decisions. You don’t want to be passed up because you didn’t address a concern or failed to convey your cultural fit.

How can you get the feedback you need? Try asking questions like these at the end of the interview:

  • “Based on everything we’ve discussed; how do you see my experience and approach aligning with the role and the work environment?”
  • “Do you feel that I would be a good fit for the company and the team?”

“Listen carefully to the interviewer’s response,” Lyons said. Have you gotten your message across? Can the hiring manager potentially articulate it? If not, say something like: “Maybe I didn’t explain myself well. May I give you another example of how I used collaboration, compromise and teamwork to rescue a troubled project?”

There’s nothing wrong with being assertive, but don’t argue or debate the interviewer’s feedback, Johnson added. View this as an opportunity to further explain your most pertinent experience and qualifications and improve your interviewing performance.

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