Handling Feedback – What does it really mean?

So you’ve completed your profile, had a conversation with your Step placement consultant, and been to the final job interview, yet you still get the call “I’m sorry but you were unsuccessful this time”. While we all know that this is demoralising and hurts, the most important thing to remember is that each interview allows you more chance to practice, and is always a learning curve. This can be a challenge though, as feedback is sometimes vague and it is hard to know what a company really means.

Here, I work through some of the more common reasons for rejection and what you can take from each of them to help you next time…

*Not experienced enough

This is the Catch 22 for most students and recent graduates. However, what we often find is that you just haven’t been able to demonstrate in your interview how your experience is relevant for this specific role (remember, they wouldn’t have asked you to an interview if they didn’t like what they saw in your CV, or they didn’t think you could do the job). For this one, you really just need to prepare next time… Make sure you understand the job you are going for, and more importantly have some examples of how your experience is relevant. A great way to do this is to use the STAR technique, where you think of a Situation, Task, Activity and Response. This allows you to structure your response to an interview question, provide examples and thoroughly demonstrate what the outcome of a certain situation was.

*Your skills didn’t match

We’ve all been for the job interview where we feel we are a shoe in, and that we were made for this job. This feedback is very similar to the feedback above, and usually just comes down to the fact that you didn’t demonstrate how your skills match the requirements.

*You haven’t researched / prepared enough

This one is difficult because either you did prepare, but you weren’t given the opportunity to show this, or you didn’t prepare the right things. Sometimes, we come across the odd applicant who simply hasn’t prepared at all! Make sure that this isn’t you by reading (and following) our advice!

*Not the right fit for the company

This one is tough to handle as it can actually hide a plethora of real rejections. It could be that you didn’t dress appropriately, or maybe you were too informal during the interview, or perhaps too formal for the culture of company. In this situation you have to accept that they t know what is right for their team. Don’t be disheartened if you get this feedback, remember it can work both ways, as sometimes you will attend an interview and leave knowing it is ‘just not for you’. Don’t fret if you do get this feedback, as you will be the perfect fit somewhere else, and you just have to find it!

*You didn’t answer the questions

What this probably means is, you didn’t listen to the questions being asked. Make sure you fully understand what they are asking you, even if this means asking them to repeat the question. It can be difficult to stay focused, but take a breath next time before responding and stay on track. Also, don’t trail off midway through your reply, and don’t waffle. Finally, don’t try and shoehorn your prepared answers into just any question that they ask you.

*You didn’t perform as well in the test / task

This one can sometimes feel like a fob off, especially as you likely won’t be given the full breakdown of results. However, you can usually ask for this to be elaborated on so you know what you need to work on. Therefore, if you didn’t know how to send mail merge from a word document, or you didn’t format an excel spreadsheet properly, knowing this is the next best thing to getting the job. If you know where you failed, you can learn and practice so next time you ace the tasks!

*Nothing between two of you / close call

I’ve been there before where the feedback has generally been very positive, and my interviewer called up to directly tell me how close it was, and I was left wondering, if I was so great, why didn’t I get the job? Sometimes, companies just have to decide between two outstanding applicants, and in those cases, it can be a 50/50 call as to how it will go. You should take this one in your stride, because you obviously made it difficult for the company to make a decision! Also, rest assured that we will remember this information, and if something else suitable comes up we will know that you have been close before and are therefore an excellent applicant to consider.

*Too serious / not enough personality

We have had this feedback come back on a couple of occasions and it is certainly something to bear in mind. Admittedly, while you don’t want to go into your interview calling everyone ‘mate’ and telling questionable dad jokes, try to remember that being professional doesn’t need to be boring or serious. You can still let your personality stand out; remember to relax, smile, and ultimately, be yourself!

*Too nervous

Believe me, as the girl whose main interview feedback has been “you were great, but let your nerves get the better of you” I know that this this is hard to overcome. However, if you’ve done all your prep you should have no reason to be nervous and remember that your interviewer might be nervous too! My main advice for this one is, fake it until you make it!

I will say it again that ultimately, even if you didn’t get the job, you can treat each interview you go on as a learning curve and an opportunity to practice for your next one. Finally, remember to stay positive . There’s no point letting feedback about nerves cripple you into a nervous wreck for your next interview: try to take all feedback in your stride as you learn about yourself and move forward to the next [bigger and better] opportunity.

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