A colleague recently approached me regarding her desire to obtain feedback regarding her non-selection for a senior-level position.

So – just to be clear, agencies, as a rule, leave a decision regarding feedback up to either the human resources office or the individual selecting official. It’s not a right – even though it might seem like it should be!

Prior to beginning her request for this information, she approached me for some suggestions on success – here were my suggestions:

  1. Just ask – many times, HR offices and selecting officials will be glad to provide feedback regarding the interview, your application materials or address other questions you might have. Your approach should be neutral – and based on improving your opportunities!
  2. If your request for feedback is granted, remember that this will be a golden opportunity have the organization consider you in light of other vacancies or positions – so treat this like you would the interview – prepare and have specific questions regarding how you can improve your chances for selection. And – prior to attending the feedback session, consider the following:
    • How will you react to negative feedback?
    • Will you know what to ask? And how?
  3. Develop a neutral request – you are far more likely to have your request well-received and responded to, if your intent is clear – and personal, for growth, development and improvement!
  4. Be timely – your request should be received no later than a week or two, once you have been notified of the selection decision.
  5. Some organizations and agencies have policies regarding these types of requests – if the answer is no, don’t assume anything nefarious about it – it is what it is.
  6. While some people would recommend that you solicit feedback from the HR Office, the selecting manager, who made the decision, may be a more valuable resource, and be able to provide you with specific information and recommendations for change.
  7. You may not be able to get specific information from the HR office, but the selecting official may be able to provide feedback, so if you approach HR and receive a negative response, check directly with the selecting manager.
  8. If the selection process included interview(s), check with panel members or the interview coordinator for feedback.
  9. Don’t wait until you aren’t selected for a job to seek feedback on the process – ask when you are being interviewed!
  10. Be sure you are actually ready for feedback – this involves going into the discussion with an open mind, and listening! If you find yourself getting defensive or minimizing the feedback, you should consider rescheduling or considering whether you are ready to receive feedback!