I am interviewing but not getting job offers. Is it appropriate to ask for feedback to help me figure out why?

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Joseph Moore, Technical Applications Specialist, DuPont
Joseph Moore, Technical Applications Specialist, DuPont

Yes, it's appropriate, but don't take it personally if you don't receive a response.  A pragmatic interviewer realizes that neither he/she nor the company stands to benefit from providing you feedback after you were not chosen for the role. And at worst, some well-intentioned advice could be used against the company in the future. Altogether, this means that if you DO receive feedback, you should (1) be very appreciative, and (2) consider applying for another role at that company in the future.  Someone clearly liked you; you just didn't happen to be a great fit for the particular role. 

Not all companies you have been interviewing will give you feedback why they turned you down.

When you respond to the rejection notice, ask what skills and experiences you should add to your resume. Also, if there is something to improve the interviewing skills to improve the future job search. 

Tamara Herman, ACS Career Consultant
Tamara Herman, ACS Career Consultant
Samina Azad, R&D Manager, PLZ Aeroscience Corporation
Samina Azad, R&D Manager, PLZ Aeroscience Corporation

There is nothing wrong with asking for feedback. You may find that they recruited someone else who is more qualified for the role. You may also find that it has nothing to do with your qualification for the role. For example, 

  • The employer decided to hire an internal candidate - they often get preference over external candidates.
  • There is a hiring freeze because of budget/spending constraints and they put the position on hold. I experienced it during job search - it happened in the middle of the interview process.
  • Hiring manager changed their mind about what exactly the role should be and put the position on hold. For example, they realized, the team really needs a project manager, not a chemist. 

Please keep in mind that often, the companies are not able to tell you exactly what is going on behind the scene. For example, they ruled you out because there was another candidate with a similar background, who had a lower salary expectation. This might happen more often that you think. Please do your homework and try to find the average salary for that role for that location before you are asked about salary expectation. If at all possible, just leave it open saying “negotiable”.

Another example, they didn’t choose you because of a critical behavioral skill or lack thereof. Companies would not directly share that information with you. Maybe during Q&A, they felt you are not a good team player. They will just say, they found a more qualified candidate. If you are going to on-site interviews and not getting job offers, there is definitely room for improvement in the way you are presenting yourself to the hiring team. Find tips on interview skills on-line, practice Q&A with a friend or work with a career consultant to prepare for on-site interviews! 

This article has been edited for length and clarity. The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the view of their employer or the American Chemical Society.

ACS Career Consultants are experts and leaders working in the field of chemistry who have volunteered to support other ACS members’ career development through one-on-one career counselling. They can stimulate your thinking, ask important career planning questions to help clarify goals, provide encouragement, teach strategies for making meaningful career decisions, and aid you in your job search. Connect with an ACS Career Consultant today!

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