As an executive recruiter, I have to say “no” more often than I say “yes.” When reviewing candidate finalists with the hiring manager of a client, I always ask for specific feedback on all candidates, those that are a fit and those that are not.
When letting a candidate know that they have not made the final cut in a particular search, I always ask candidates if they would like to hear feedback on why the decision was made. Most candidates will say they want this input. My precursor to providing the input is that “you may not agree with it” and “try not to get defensive.” Nonetheless, a predictable percent of candidates respond with disbelief and negativity and want me to go back to the client to prove they are wrong in their assessment. Thus, they learn nothing from the experience and are closed to feedback regarding the client’s final assessment (which is normally quite accurate and can be insightful).
My advice to anyone who has a unique opportunity to get a company’s thoughtful personal assessment in the recruiting process would be to listen openly to the input and embrace rejection. Those who do take such input in stride will be surprised by the positive effect it can have on future opportunities. And, with over thirty years of industry and recruiting experience, I’ve been on all sides of this; as a client providing input, as a candidate receiving the input, and as a recruiter communicating the input—so I’ve learned to practice what I preach.
Listening to rejection allows you to see yourself from an outside perspective, which helps you to pinpoint opportunities that you otherwise would not have been aware of. By hearing the factors that led to your rejection, you become able to look critically at yourself and learn from the mistakes rather than repeating the same mistakes by questioning everyone else’s decision. It’s always difficult to hear negative feedback, but the more you expose yourself to it with an open mind, the less apprehension you’ll feel when encountering a similar situation in your career.