Didn’t get the job and can’t get feedback from interview panel, now what?

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This topic contains 10 replies, has 7 voices, and was last updated by  Janis Heim 9 years, 8 months ago.

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  • #101313

    Daron Jordan

    Previously I asked, and thanks to all who responded, about how to go about taking the step from a local government job to a federal one.

    I learned last week that I did not get selected for the position :-(.

    The notice cam in a form email that said that “if you are receiving this email, you were not selected for the position. Please do not respond to this automated email.” Hmmm, an automated email asking me not to respond? Does that mean they didn’t even want me to send a thank you note?

    Well, I did send thank you notes to the chair of the interview panel and the director of the division as a courtesy. In those notes I also inquired if they could provide feedback on my interview and reiterated my interst in working for the agency should another opening occur.

    To date, I have only received “read receipts” but no response. So, my question is this – “I didn’t get the job and can’t get any feedback from the interview panle, or the department director, so now what do I do?”

    Do I write the expereince off as great practice and should not expect any correspondence?

    Do I follow-up with a phone call or would that appear as to agressive?

    Do I even explore any future openings within this department since I can’t get any feedback? (Don’t want to wast time in applying if they will not be interested)

    Any, and all, advice would be greatly appreciated. As I stated in a previous discussion I have spent the last 20 years at the local level and exploring the federal landscape is something new to me.

  • #101334

    Janis Heim

    I have not worked at the federal level for many years so I may need to be corrected, but at the state level you would be reading far too much into this response. The automated email probably meant that it itself could not receive replies; that it was automated and did not have the capability to receive messages back. You were perfectly correct in sending the thank you notes.
    Asking for feedback on your interview performance was fine. It is also true that you were asking those people for a favor. They are trying to fill a position, and are probably looking for good candidates for future vacancies as well, but they are not your employment counselors. If they do not have time to explain to every applicant why the one they chose better fit their needs, I would not take it personally.
    If you want to work for that Department, you should certainly apply for future vacancies as well as make a point of learning as much as you can about how it is organized and what it does. If you have contacts within the Department I would cultivate them, but I would not keep trying for feedback on what may have been an impersonal decision.
    In this market we have many well-qualified and talented people at the state level for each opening and I am sure this is true at the federal level as well. If each person who is not selected takes it as a personal affront or a failure on their part, they are doing themselves a great injustice. I would keep applying for positions you want and try not to take setbacks as anything but challenges to improve your presentation.
    It is good to ask for feedback and show an interest in future positions, but to insist that busy people help you get a job can soon become an imposition, unless they are employment counselors or personal friends.

    As I say, I have no recent experience at the federal level so better informed respondents may have something else to say. Good luck in your future endeavors!

  • #101332

    Lisa Coates

    This is most helpful. I often wondered when I get automated emails as responses after job interviews, whether I am supposed to send a thank you note or not.

  • #101330

  • #101328

    Daron Jordan


    I have always felt it proper , and polite, to send thank you notes to those I have interviewed with for a postion, even if I received an automated rejection. Maybe, I am “old school” in that regard 🙂

  • #101326

    Daron Jordan


    Than you for taking the time to offer feedback. However, when I clicked on the link it came back with a message that it had been removed.

  • #101324

    Daron Jordan


    Thank you for the constructive feedback. I appreciate your thoughts and you taking time to provide a response on this matter.

    I guess my dilemma stems from the fact that I, as an employer, in the past have always taken the time out of my busy schedule to at least acknowledge such an inquiry as the one I am making to the interview panel. Sometimes it was nothing more than an acknowledgement of the time and effort that the interviewee put into the job search and to thank them for considering a position within our organization. In the rare occasion that I interviewed a candidate that wouldn’t be a fit for the organization, I thought it at least be courteous to politely encourage them in their job search and wish them the best in looking for employment elsewhere.

    Those responses generally took me less than 10 minutes each to draft or about 30 minutes if I interviewed five people (not every interviewee would ask for feedback) and so I have been left baffled that I have not gotten more than an automated rejection letter.

    Again, this may be par for the course at the federal level; however, not knowing if this was indeed true is why I asked for feedback on this forum.

    Your response, and the responses by others, is indicative of the great resource this forum offers those of us with a passion for public service.

    Thank you again for the response!

  • #101321



    Weird, I get the same message, however if I click on “Return to discussion” the post appears. Anyways, I’ve attached a copy of the article.


  • #101319

    Mark Hammer

    The nature of post-interview feedback is a tricky thing. For a short period, I worked on assessment centres for management-position candidates, and we were instructed to be very guarded in our feedback. So guarded that we were provided a booklet of approved phrases to use with candidates.

    Why? The answer is simple. In many instances, candidates re-apply to the same sorts of competitions, that in turn re-use the same assessment tools, such AS a set of structured interview questions and simulation scenarios. The discouragement for “winging it” in terms of the feedback we provided was to assure that nobody would benefit from feedback that unintentionally gave them an advantage over other candidates next time out. So, the phrasebook provided phrases of sufficient generality that they did not unwittingly give “the answer” to different aspects of the assessment centre. Essentially, the guarded nature of the feedback extends the shelf life of the assessment methods/tools.

    In other instances, I imagine the aversion to providing feedback is simply because of the potential administrative burden, given the sheer volume of unsuccessful candidates. Keep in mind that managers have to do hiring on top of all the other things they have to do, and a great many view all the interpersonal stuff as eating away at the time they need to allocate to their real job. I’m not saying this is justification for being curt or rude or inconsiderate (all of which can have an impact on the attractiveness of that employer to applicants in the future), merely suggesting an explanation for why it happened.

    In still other cases it may well be a reaction to “misadventures” of those providing feedback in past that was not well thought out and poorly received. You know, the looming spectre of, and paranoia over, discrimination or harassment litigation.

    Kudos to you for remembering what your mom taught you about saying “Thank you”, and kudos to your mom for making sure you learned to do so.

    As an aside, Stephen Gilliland at the University of Arizona did a wonderful field experiment about 10 years back. Seems they had a faculty opening and received a great many applicants, but ultimately the dean rescinded the funding for the position, so they had to send “the skinny envelope” to all applicants. He seized the moment and randomly sorted the applicants into two groups. One group received a very terse form letter, typical of what usually gets sent out “We regret to inform you….”. The other group received a “Sorry about that….” note that was really apologetic, and laid it on thick that it was a shame they could not have offered a position to someone of your calibre, yadda, yadda, also explaining that and why the position was not offered to anyone. Not saccharine, but clearly humble. These same two groups of folks were sent out a short survey to inquire about the application experience and how fair they thought it was. Not surprisingly, recipients of the longer rejection letter perceived the process as much fairer.

    Gilliland went a step further and kept track of who was in what group. The following year, they managed to score the money for the position and it was readvertised. The re-application rate for the position was significantly higher for the group who received the longer letter.

    Just goes to show you, in the world of HR, it is often costlier to be short with folks than it is to be pleasant and considerate.

  • #101317

    Carol Davison

    I am an HR professional and have worked as a recruiter inside government and as a headhunter.

    These observations apply: 1. Don’t take it personally, there may not have been a job because of funding, the incumbent didn’t leave, etc. 2. They may have wanted to hire their cousin, which is why they considered piano player, left handed, Serbo Croatian folk dancing bona finde job qualifications. 3. They haven’t a clue as to what valid job qualifications are, for example some GS-15 training director positions expect applicants to be specialists in security. We are not, but that GS-14 they have in their organization 4. May be or the person inside the organization who has been carefully planning and achieving results so they are most qualified for the position was hired.

    Consider: 1. Always type and send a thank you note, because only 20% of applicants do so and it makes you stand out. I once got a job a year after the interview. 2. Consider completing the application and interview job training. You get better each time you do it. 3. Always call and ask for feedback so you can identify your weaknesses. 4. Realize you don’t want to work for someone who wants to hire their cousin. They wouldn’t treat you well anyway. 5. Federal HR offices get 80 applications for every job opening. They can either spend their time telling people why they didn’t get hired, or spend their time hiring people. Even the HR office in which I work is slow to return my calls.

  • #101315

    Daron – as a paranoid attorney, I would speculate that the interviewers may be concerned about replying with comments about your interview and then later find the hardcopy of that email response attached to a complaint of some sort! But that is no excuse not to send you a polite response thanking you for your time and stating that a more qualified candidate was hired (or something like that).

    Also, I would send thank you letters within a day of the actual interview rather than waiting until you receive notice of the hiring decision. Very few candidates for federal positions actually bother to send thank you letters, so it is definitely an easy way to separate a little from the pack!

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