How to analyse interview feedback and make it actionable

Gathering useful timely feedback from interviewers and making sense of it can be a gruelling process. But as a job hunter, you always should.

We’ve all fallen victim to interview rejection emails. Often, these emails are templates that are sent on mass with very little detail and feedback specifically related to your interview.

In such cases, it’s your responsibility to ask for it. You will be surprised how many job hunters don’t ask for feedback and how many hiring managers are happy to provide when prompted to.

Even after you’ve weeded out the aspirational, the hypothetical and the third party statements, you still need to figure out how to make sense of it all.

That’s why RECRUITERS have put together this short guide on how to analyse interview feedback and how to make it actionable in two segments below:

Analysing interview feedback

1. The person giving you the feedback matters.

Do you pay full attention to every piece of feedback people give you? Unlikely. Chances are that friends and family you trust most are the people whose opinions you’ll value the most. You’re probably not going to put as much value on the views of the guy you just met on the bus.

In an interview situation, the person giving you feedback will subconsciously influence how much weight you give their feedback. Naturally, you’ll put less weight on feedback from someone that is completely isolated from the hiring process and rightly so.

Anyone that was party to the interview or has a vested interest in the outcome of the interview should be listened to. Often, you may receive feedback from a company representative that you never heard of until post interview. In such situations, some points that should be factored in are:

  • Their understanding of you, your background and your interview
  • The relationship they have with the relevant hiring manager
  • Their position within the company
  • The department they work in and who they report to

2. Whether it’s prompted or unprompted, interview feedback matters

Pay particular attention to unprompted feedback. This is usually from people that have a vested interest in your immediate success and will be providing crucial feedback to ensure you have every chance of succeeding in the immediate hiring process.

Prompted feedback, on the other hand, is often from those hiring managers that have made their decision and are not as interested in your immediate success, but would like to see you succeed at some point in the future – just not with them (most likely).

Unprompted feedback is also a result of something the hiring manager picked up at some point in the interview process and felt compelled to tell you after.

Prompted feedback forces hiring managers to review their memory of you and the interview. With so many interviews taking place, it will be quicker and easier to provide general feedback – but you want specifics.

3. The volume of feedback matters

If 80% of the interview feedback you received last month is telling you that you need to make more eye contact, you should listen up. It’s harder to analyse interview feedback in fragments.

In such cases, don’t just latch on to one piece of feedback that corresponds to your own insecurities and assumptions about yourself. Often, these insecurities and assumptions are in your head only, but have not formed part of the majority of feedback received.

4. Repetition matters

Does this sound like you when you get feedback?

“Yeah, I’ve heard that before to be fair”

Don’t dismiss this. Basically what has happened it that this feedback has become so repetitive in your mind that it’s become trite, a sort of dull whine that you don’t listen to anymore.

This kind of feedback is really worth listening to though! It’s an indicator that you haven’t actioned previous feedback or are having difficulties listening to others that are trying to help.

5. The stakes matter

Where and when you receive feedback during the hiring process matters. Feedback from all interviews is important. However, feedback from a final stage interview is high stakes feedback.

You have gotten through the entire process up to now. You have met various people from various departments that have all had something to say about you along the way.

It’s important that you compile and listen to this feedback from everyone’s point of view at the end of the process, so that you can improve and seal the deal next time.

Actioning interview feedback

Once you’ve decided which feedback you want to listen to and weight, how do you transform interview feedback into something you can act on in the future? How can you take a jumble of open-ended feedback and use it to inform your career path?

Below are some tips from RECRUITERS’ perspective:

1. Compile your feedback

In the same way companies collate open-ended customer feedback into a spreadsheet, you too should gather feedback over time and document it. Document and categorise how many times certain factors were an issue, such as eye contact, skills and confidence.

In doing so, you’ll begin to identify those issues that are occurring on volume and prioritise them for action.

We would also suggest that you do the same for the positive feedback. This is obviously where your strengths lie and you should always play to your strengths in an interview.

2. Evaluate feedback from your perspective

“It’s not you, it’s me.”

All too often job hunters blame themselves for not succeeding in an interview. It’s important to recognise that what might appear like negative feedback, it actually a positive.

If they say I’m not a good cultural fit, I could try and change who I am. Or, I could note that that type of company culture is not for me and make it my point to avoid such company cultures in the future.

It’s important that you turn negatives into positives when actioning feedback. It’s a long and often gruelling process, but don’t let it dishearten you.

3. Action exactly what they said and not what you hear

Pay attention to the exact language people use. Issues that sound familiar upon first glance might actually be separate issues. It’s important to recognise this and avoid improving something that you don’t need to improve on necessarily.

For example, imagine you received a lot of feedback related to ‘communication issues’. However, when you read more carefully, you realise that these break down into separate issues: ‘didn’t listen’, ‘didn’t influence’, ‘didn’t speak clearly’, which are all quite different.

4. Ditch the ego and take emotion out of it

Some feedback can be really upfront and honest but can potentially come across as a bit hurtful and mean. The difference is usually in the delivery.

Regardless, always consider why someone is going out of their way to tell you something. Ditch the ego; don’t get bogged down being offended, defensive and fighting it. Focus on what you stand to gain by really digesting the feedback.

As an interviewee, you should want to receive full and honest feedback. Take some time to reflect on the feedback and at what points it may have come up as an issue in the interview. Learn from those points during the interview that the feedback became relevant.

The best chance of forecasting the future is to look to the past.

5. Don’t over analyse it

Regardless of the feedback, it’s important to remember your mission. Your mission is to find a new job. Therefore, it’s important that you, as a job hunter, have the ability to move on and refocus for the interviews ahead. Don’t dwell too much on the past and get the simple things right going forward.

Employers often mention to us that candidates didn’t answer a question properly or fully, so it’s really important to listen carefully to each question and determine what the interviewer is actually asking.

Interviewing can be a little bit unnerving for some people, so it’s easy to go off on a tangent and not actually answer the question.

Therefore, don’t overanalyse feedback. Get the simple things right and give yourself every chance to succeed.

The RECRUITERS STAR technique (Situation, Task, Action, and Result) is a great tool to help structure your answer. It helps solidify interview technique and put structure to your answers, which will enable you to concur an interview in full without having to try to remember every piece of feedback you’ve ever received.

Analyse interview feedback and make it actionable

In conclusion, it can be hard to know how to go about analysing and actioning interview feedback, especially if you don’t have a recruitment agent on your side who can help.

However, if you follow the advice in this post, anyone can turn a jumble of interview feedback into a clear summary. Best of all, you can then use that summary to make informed decisions and, in turn, improve your interview prospects in the future.

Bottom line when it comes to interviews – practice makes perfect.

If you have any thoughts or feedback on this article I’d love to hear from you. Or, if you’d simply like to hear more about how RECRUITERS can help you nail your next interview and secure your dream job, we would be delighted to help!

About author: With 8+ years marketing experience, Andrew has picked up 32 awards internationally for the marketing campaigns he has worked on in that time, including two Cannes Lions awards for Tourism Ireland’s Game of Thrones Campaign in 2017. Andrew was nominated for “Master of Marketing: Rising Star Award” by the Association of National Advertisers in 2016. He joined the RECRUITERS team in January 2018.

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