Dear Career Tips:
"Why Didn’t I Get The Job Offer?"
From Career Tips, 2004 Volume 10, October 2004
Dear Career Tips:
Is it OK to call a hiring manager to ask why I got turned down for a job?
Definitely! In fact, done the right way, you can greatly improve your chances of being considered for a future opening, or of turning that interviewer into a valuable part of your ongoing career search network!
Put yourself for a moment in the hiring manager's shoes. How might you feel after turning down a reasonably qualified candidate? You may assume the other person is upset, disappointed, perhaps even hurt. How likely are you to seek him or her out at the next association meeting you both attend? But what if that candidate approached you in a way that showed them to be a consummate professional, interested in learning how to improve themself. Now you will have a much better opinion of that person, and will have no hesitation in talking with them at future functions.
There's no guarantee that you will actually get any substantive input, but the point of following up with them is more to leave them with the strongest possible impression of you than it is to get input. And if you do get feedback on an area that came across weakly, so much the better. Now you can figure out how to deal with that for future interviews. Perhaps you didn't tell a strong enough accomplishment story, or need to find a way to position some related experience more effectively to fill in a perceived gap.
You've already been turned down for the job, so you can't get turned down again. The worst that will happen is that you get no input. There is really no downside, as long as you keep in mind your goal to show yourself as a professional. Come into the conversation to learn: don't get defensive, don't get upset, and don't try to convince them to undo the decision that they have already made. And whatever input they do give you, be sure to thank them sincerely for sharing it with you!