an employer rejects you after an interview, there is
unfortunately no incentive for them to explain to
you why you were not hired. In fact, there are
actually some incentives for them to offer no
explanation at all. They don’t want to run the risk
of citing any reason that could open them up to a
lawsuit, and they don’t want to enter into an
argument with you either.
As a result, it’s pointless to ask why you didn’t
get hired. They probably aren’t going to respond or
give you the real reason anyway, and this question
will sound confrontational, no matter how delicately
you choose your words. Instead, you should ask what
you can do to enhance your candidacy for future
It’s wise to ask for feedback in this case by
sending an email. This way, the hiring person has
some time to choose if/how to respond to you. It’s
also easier for them to respond to an email than if
you send a letter and expect them to take the
initiative to send you a written/email response in
return. Here is an example of what you could write
in an email to the hiring person if you are not
chosen for a job:
Dear Mr. Interviewer,
While I’m disappointed that you have chosen another
candidate for this position, I appreciate the
opportunity to interview with you.
Since I’m always looking for ways to grow
professionally, do you have any suggestions on what
I can do to enhance my candidacy for future
opportunities _________ (i.e. in this field, with
your organization, etc.)?
I respect your opinion and appreciate any feedback
you might have.
Thank you again for your time and consideration.
This approach is much more effective than the
“why didn’t you hire me?” approach for a few
reasons. First of all, it puts the emphasis on you
rather than the employer and implies that you
respect their decision (even if you don’t understand
it). Secondly, this approach demonstrates a desire
to improve yourself, a trait that every employer
While the employer might not offer a clear answer
(or any answer at all), it’s possible you may gain
valuable feedback on how to improve your chances for
employment with their organization or with others.
If nothing else, you position yourself as a
proactive, self-motivated candidate who understands
the importance of professional development. By
remaining professional and courteous, you also keep
the door open for future opportunities.
One of the success stories featured in my new book
used this exact technique to land his dream job
right out of college. After being rejected for a
position with Polaris Industries, Austin Moyer sent
an email to every person he knew within the company
to ask what he could do to enhance his candidacy for
The result? When another position became available
one week later, the organization brought him back in
for another interview, and he ultimately got hired!
In summary, if you get rejected for a job interview,
don’t get bitter. Instead, ask how you can get
better. You might be pleasantly surprised what can
happen with this approach.
Pete Leibman is the Founder of Dream Job Academy
and the Author of
I Got My
Dream Job and So Can You: 7 Steps to Creating Your
Ideal Career After College. His work has been
featured on Fox, CBS, and CNN, and he’s been invited
to speak at some of the world’s best colleges,
including Stanford University and Johns Hopkins