Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Using Feedback After Rejection

You applied for the job, got past the phone interview, and persuaded your way through 1, 2, even 3+ interviews only to find out that you didn’t get the job.  Why not? Did anyone tell you why?  Probably not.  Most companies refuse to give feedback to candidates not selected for the job for fear of a lawsuit.  You most likely hear a response such as “We ended up going with a candidate with a little more experience.”  It’s true that there are still numerous extremely qualified candidates competing for the same positions you are, but is that the whole truth?  Was there something more to their decision?

I recently interviewed for a director level position at a mid-sized Minnesota company.  The hiring company had narrowed the pool down to two candidates but asked each of us to work with an independent management consulting company and partake in a series of psychological and problem solving tests to assess cultural fit and our ability to perform the job duties as required.  After 8 ½ hours of grueling computer tests, role plays, simulations, and interviews, the job offer went to the other candidate.  However, I was offered the opportunity to receive a 30 minute feedback session regarding my results.  I took it.

My feedback session began with a list of the areas where I scored high: I have a strong work ethic, I’m ambitious and driven, and I have a strong focus on customer service.  No real surprises here.  Next came the areas for development.  My consultant told me that I had strong leadership skills but not a clearly defined leadership style. He also told me that I am a perfectionist and may get hung up on unnecessary details, which may result in a very long work day. 

His statement regarding my leadership style got me thinking and I realized that although I have served in a leadership role in many different settings, I do play it by ear and may vary my style accordingly.  It made me curious about the different leadership styles that exist and I made a vow to myself to research leadership styles and find one that fits me best.  The comment that he made about me being a perfectionist was right on.  Not only does my desire for perfection result in long business hours, it caused me to run out of time on the assessments for the interview, resulting in a lower score than I would have liked.  My consultant advised me to use the “80% rule”.  He explained that it takes almost as long to get a task from 80% perfection to 90% perfection as it does to get it to 80% perfection in the first place.  Therefore, once you get it to 80%, it’s good enough.

Only a few days after this feedback, I had my first performance review with my current employer.  Although the feedback was different, I began to see some trends.  Was it hard to hear? Absolutely.  But you know what is harder to hear?  “We ended up going with another candidate.”  I can assure you that I will be taking the feedback that I received and using it to make positive changes in my current role and in preparation for my future one.

What do you think?
·       What kind of opportunities have you had to receive feedback on your skills, strengths, areas for development, etc.?
·       Have you used this feedback to help you grow and develop?  If so, how?
·       Have you referred to feedback that you have received in performance reviews during an interview?  If so, what was the result?

Barrie Berquist is a Retail Analyst on the ConAgra Foods Team at Acosta Sales and Marketing.  She has been a member of the MN AMA since 2007 and is a member of the MarCom Committee where she serves as the Career Insider Blog Project Manager.  She can be reached at barrieberquist@yahoo.com.  You can follow Barrie on Twitter @BEBERQUIST. 
Bookmark and Share


Amanda Broman said...

I love this post Barrie! Too often we dismiss feedback as a one-off occurrence and that it was just that person’s opinion. Although it may be hard to take, when someone is offering you honest feedback you need to truly hear them and embrace your areas for development. I have received similar feedback to yours and have made efforts to development these areas and am honest about them when interviewing. In my opinion, being self-aware can be a competitive advantage in life.

Thanks for sharing your experience!

Barrie Berquist said...

Thank you, Amanda! It is hard to receive criticism, even when it is constructive. However, I want to constantly strive to be better and that can't happen if I'm defensive when people suggest ways I can be better. The assessment that I participated in was a great way to get unbiased feedback from a 3rd party. Not everyone gets that opportunity. Several friends/coworkers/family members told me that they wouldn't have opted to participate in the feedback session but I'm glad that I did.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for a great article. How refreshing that a company offered a feedback session!


Post a Comment