The recruiter will say something generic like how much they liked you but the field was just so competitive. Furthermore, at this point, you are already closed out for the job. You can’t use any feedback you do get because your next interviews will be for different jobs with different players. Instead of generic feedback received too late, you need to get personal and specific feedback that you can act upon before a decision is made.
Who else are you considering for this position, and how do I compare? This is the jobseeker’s version of “What other companies are you talking to and how will you decide?” Employers always ask who else you’re considering because if they are still judging you, they want to see how connected you are, and if they already like you, they want to know how they can sell you based on specifically what else you have to choose from. So use the same tactic on them, and see what other backgrounds they are considering and how you can position yourself over and beyond the competition your employer has to choose from.
Have I answered all of your questions, or is there something still outstanding that would make you reluctant to bring me on board? Even if they don’t detail the second part, you can get a sense if it’s yes or no by how they react to the question. In most cases, you will get some details. The interviewer will ask for clarification on a project you did, or on the reporting structure of a previous job and exactly where you fit. Whatever they ask is what is still a question for them, and this is what you must address in your follow-up.
What is your timetable for making a decision, and who is on the decision team? Once you get through the two questions above and you know how to position yourself, you still need to know how quickly you need to act and whom you have to influence. If the employer is convening a meeting of the decision-makers to discuss the finalists next week, and the question they have about you is your marketing ability, then you need to get a marketing proposal in front of the decision-makers by next week. If the meeting is tomorrow, then you need to messenger it tomorrow.
Do not go to interviews, write a boilerplate thank you note, and throw your hands up in the air (or go down on your knees to pray). You can still influence the outcome if you get feedback you can use and do something with it.
Caroline Ceniza-Levine is co-founder of SixFigureStart (www.sixfigurestart.com).
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