6 Tips on How to Ask Why You Didn’t Get the Job

6 Tips on How to Ask Why You Didn’t Get the Job
They’ve said no. Now what?

After you get over the "I am angry at the world" phase following the company's rejection, you will likely wonder why. Requesting feedback on why you weren't selected for the job is a constructive way to make your future job search endeavors more successful. However, it's essential to approach this inquiry professionally and tactfully.

Here are some steps on how to ask them why you didn't get the job.

Questions You Need to Ask Yourself First

Before you hit send on that email, take a moment to reflect on your interview performance and the entire hiring process. Don't be too hard on yourself, but do take the time to evaluate your own performance before seeking feedback from others, take a moment to give feedback to yourself.

Here are some examples of the questions that you can think about:

  • Could have I improved my cover letter or resume?
  • How well did I communicate during the interview?
  • Did I prepare adequately for the interview?
  • Were my references strong and credible?
  • Did I truly give it my all?
  • Did I meet the listed requirements (skills, experience, portfolio, etc.)?

Here’s an extra tip: After you brainstorm the questions and find answers, write them down, so that when you get the feedback from the company that rejected you, you can actually make a great comparison of what they’ve told you and what you already had in your head.

For example, you might think your reference was excellent, but they might tell you it wasn’t strong enough.

Start Drafting the Email

Before sending the email, draft it in a separate document so you can make changes as needed. Keep your emotions in check; you may feel you deserve the job, but remember, you don't know the full story.

Avoid sounding passive-aggressive, as it may deter the company from responding.

Extra tip: To avoid this, ask one of your friends or colleagues to help you out and read your email-to-be. The feedback they give you can be incredibly valuable in catching any potential errors or misunderstandings before you send the email.

Ask the Right Questions

Very often, people wander off and write an email without thinking it through in detail, which usually results in forgetting to ask some crucial things. That is why it is important to read your email-to-be a few times after you’ve finished it and set it aside for a few days. You never know when you could recall anything crucial that you would like to convey to the employer that rejected you.

Extra tip: This is why it’s important to brainstorm the questions you would first like to ask yourself first. In this manner, you can prevent yourself from asking generic questions that won't contribute to creating an excellent email tailored to the specific feedback you need.

This, Not That

Here’s a helpful guide on how to shape the questions you’ll ask the employer. Keep in mind they should be comprehensive, straightforward, and strictly professional. To help you out, we decided to use the “This, Not That” strategy of question-creating.

  • Don’t ask: "Were my cover letter and resume badly written and how can I write them better?"
  • Ask this instead: "How can I improve my cover letter and resume so I come across better in my future interviews?"

If you use phrases such as “badly written”, you might sound incompetent - like you can’t professionally write something. Related to that, you also sound unrefined.

  • Don’t ask: "Do I really lack the skills that you are looking for, or you’ve hired someone from your own company?" It comes across as a passive-aggressive.
  • Ask this instead: "Can you advise me on how to improve my skills for this job position or recommend a good course that might help me instill confidence during my future interviews?"

Naturally, we all want to know whether we were refused because the company wanted to hire somebody they already know. But you shouldn’t ask that question, not even indirectly. They usually hire people who already work with them, or know them because they TRUST them.

If the company is in great need of someone for a specific job position and they need someone they trust, they might hire someone in their circle of acquaintances. But that’s why you can reshape the question as we’ve shown you. You won’t get the answer you’re looking for, but the one you do get will surely be useful for your future interviews.  

  • Don’t ask: "What did I do wrong?" or  "Why was I rejected?
  • Ask this instead: "Could you please tell me why I wasn’t chosen for this role so that I can improve and do better in the future? Your feedback would help me greatly."

If you don’t want to sound like a wailing nursling, you definitely won’t shape your question like in the first example. Stick to being professional and keeping your head cool.

  • Don’t ask: What would you do differently in my place to get this job?
  • Ask this instead: Can you give me some advice or feedback on what I could have done differently - and what I can do differently next time?

The first example of the question doesn’t sound very professional and it looks as if you were blaming someone else for not getting the job. Again, it’s important to notice how you will ask, not just what you will ask.

Listen and Apply

To iterate, it’s important not to succumb to emotions.

Therefore, listen carefully to what you’ve been told, and apply the advice you’ve been given (even though you might not agree with all of it).

Don’t refuse them just because they refused you.

Say Thanks

Don’t forget gratitude.

Thank them for their time and show appreciation for the useful tips and tricks they provided you with. Of course, it's important to convey your appreciation for being granted the opportunity for an interview, or simply thanking them for reviewing your application. Emphasize the valuable insights you’ve gained from this experience.

Embrace the Growth After Rejection

Facing rejection may feel discouraging, but it actually offers an opportunity for self-improvement. Requesting feedback from your in the end not-to-be employer is a proactive step in refining your job-seeking approach. So, prepare thoughtful questions, and emotions aside, craft a professional inquiry. Remember, the goal is to receive constructive feedback for your future job-seeking ventures. In the end, the feedback will help you in honing your skills and becoming a stronger candidate in your future endeavors.