The last thing anyone might want to do after receiving a rejection is to ask your interviewer for feedback. All I would want to do in that situation, especially if I felt very confident about the interview, is dig into a pint of ice cream. But, let’s put the spoon away for a second and think of this as an opportunity to learn and grow.

Make the Most of It
Don’t let things linger, ask for feedback right away. The best time to ask is when the interviewer tells you that you did not get the job. If you are fortunate enough to be contacted by phone, use this opportunity to ask for feedback. If you receive an email, follow up with the company within 24 hours.

Make the most of this opportunity and ask constructive questions.  Not “Why didn’t I get the job?” but questions like:

  • “What were my weak areas?”
  • “How can I improve?”
  • “Do you have any specific interviewing advice for me?”

Keep an Open Mind
Ask with the right intent and keep an open mind. Don’t get defensive or try to argue a point. There is only one appropriate response to constructive feedback and that is “Thank you.”

During this process, you might learn something new about yourself. Unlike our friends and family, the interviewer has nothing to lose by being honest with you and pointing out your foibles. Kat Boogaard of The Muse writes:

I remember one time in particular when I requested feedback after not getting a position that I was excited about. The interviewer was surprisingly helpful and thorough in her response. So much so that she told me I had an unpleasant habit of completing other people’s sentences.

I was shocked … My intentions were good—I was attempting to show agreement and interest in what the other person was saying. But, I’m sure that it only came off as annoying and interruptive to my conversational partners.

Remember, this isn’t the last job you will ever interview for. This is an opportunity to show that you are open and willing to take constructive criticism. Companies have openings all the time, and they will be much more inclined to call you in again if you can show that you can take criticism well. In fact, “… the best employees are learners: people who are self-aware, willing to hear criticism, and then make an effort to improve.”

Think It Over
Evaluate the feedback. Just as you shouldn’t instantly reject feedback, by the same token, you shouldn’t automatically accept it either.

Mull it over for a day or two. Does the criticism ring true? Is it something you have heard before? Does the giver have expertise or credibility to back up their observation?

As cheesy as it may sound, there’s not a lot to learn from success. But there is a ton to learn from mistakes and failure. You will need resilience and grit to get through your job search and find the perfect fit. Take interview feedback as a chance to grow and learn, not as an opportunity to wallow in extra calories.

So, save the ice cream for when it’s time to celebrate – like when you get the job!