questions to ask after employer rejection

What is one question to ask when a potential employer rejects moving forward with the hiring process?

To help you with what to ask a potential employer after facing rejection, we asked experienced hiring managers and HR leaders this question for their best advice. From asking for feedback to inquiring if there is another open role, there are several pieces of advice that may help you discover what to ask after being faced with rejection.

Here are nine insights into what to ask hiring employers after facing rejection:

  • Ask for Feedback
  • Find out if Anything Would Have Made Them Hire You Immediately
  • Ask Direct Questions to Gain Valuable Insight
  • List Ways to Improve Your Interview Skills
  • Inquire as to How You Can Improve Your Application
  • Find out What You Need to Change
  • Seek Feedback and Keep It Classy
  • Improve Your Cover Letter Or Resume
  • Inquire if There is Another Open Role

Questions to Ask When Employer Rejects Moving Forward

Ask for Feedback

It can be a challenge to find out why a potential employer is not moving forward with your hire, but rather than asking why you didn’t get the job, reframe it. For example, you can ask them, “Were there any important qualifications for this position that you felt were missing from my professional background? If so, what were they?” Asking for feedback is often met with less resistance because you are asking for ways you can improve as you move through your job search. Just remember that you will not be a fit for every job out there, but there is a job that is a great fit for you. Good luck in your search!

Linda Scorzo, Hiring Indicators

Find out if Anything Would Have Made Them Hire You Immediately

One interesting question to ask a potential employer post-rejection is “is there anything I could have said that would have made you think, we have to hire this person immediately?” Hirers often decline to give specific interview feedback out of fear that criticism might be turned against the brand. However, this interesting hypothetical question might prompt a response. The answer to this question can give the job seeker a clear idea of excellence within the industry or the interview process and can give the candidate goals to strive for.

Michael Alexis, TeamBuilding

Ask Direct Questions to Gain Valuable Insight

If you are a candidate and not moving forward in the hiring practice, ask direct questions for feedback on the why. In the job search process, we make many assumptions and this is an opportunity to instead ask over jumping to conclusions.  Defensiveness has no place here, however, curiosity and genuine interest will be memorable.  Use this as a learning moment and this spirit might intrigue the hiring manager. While this opportunity might not be the right fit and match, your sense of openness and learning might serve you in a “next” role within that organization. I held on to many resumes over my career of candidates who we could not say yes to at the moment.  There is always tomorrow. I can promise, candidates do enjoy hearing back from you when you lead with….”we have a new opportunity we would like you to consider…”

Diane Fennig, The Gallagher Group – Executive Search & Leadership Advisors

List Ways to Improve Your Interview Skills

Improving your interview skills is important if you want to increase your chances of receiving job offers. If you’ve been rejected by a potential employer after interviewing for a position, ask the hiring manager to list one or two ways you could improve your interview skills to increase your chances of receiving a job offer. It’s a broad enough question that gives them the chance to be specific about their feedback. Use their feedback to practice your interview skills so you’re better prepared for your next interview.

Brett Sohns, LifeGoal Investments

Inquire as to How You Can Improve Your Application

“Do you have any suggestions for how I might improve my application?” This question cuts right to the chase without you seeming bitter or put-off. It gives your interviewers a clear and actionable question, which allows you a chance to not only hear the areas where your application was found lacking–but it will provide you ways to better your chances going forward. Asking this question makes you seem diligent and driven to improve, and it will help you as you apply to future positions. And who knows? The following conversation might ensure you end up with a position at the company after all.

Daniel Sathyanesan, Winden

Find out What You Need to Change

The most important question to ask is, “what would need to be different in order to be hired?” Not every opportunity pans out the way we’d like, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t something to be learned from the result. It may be hard to keep emotions in check when we’re feeling disappointed, but rather than viewing the rejection as a personal failing, we must strive to see it as a professional one. The only way to approach a professional failing with fearless candor and a willingness to improve. Ask the question, and listen to the response of the employer with an unbiased ear, use their feedback to improve yourself as an asset so that you can be a more compelling candidate in future interviews.

Charles Hua, Poised

Seek Feedback and Keep It Classy

“How should I bolster my candidacy the next time there is an opening?” Employers want to see someone take some initiative and be unafraid to seek constructive feedback. It also gives the employer the impression that the candidate is very serious about joining the company and would still want to do so if given another chance. It’s the classy way to go. That’s always going to be the preferred way.

Scott MacDonell, Bambee

Improve Your Cover Letter Or Resume

Consider asking if there needs to be any improvement on a cover letter or resume. These job necessities are the ultimate first impression when applying for positions. The potential employer can highlight what works and what skills or experience needs to be emphasized. The job applicant will be able to revise their information to move forward in the hiring process in the future.

Lillie Sun, Three Ships Beauty

Inquire if There is Another Open Role

When a potential employer rejects moving forward with you, you should ask if there are any other roles available that might be a better fit. When someone is hiring for a specific role like “marketing manager” or “custom success associate”, they have specific ideas in mind about that person’s experience and how they will present themselves. Sometimes that focus can take the hiring manager away from the bigger picture, and so not see the fit for a great candidate in another role. So, you can prompt the question yourself. Even better, if there is another job post open, you could ask if you might be a fit for that specific role.

Melissa Kelly, Virtual Team Building

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