Anjali has found the perfect job opening; her experience and skills are tailor-made for the position. The interview went great and she can almost visualise herself in the new role. But, unbelievably a rejection wings her way and she can do nothing else but speculate ‘why?’

Well, its obvious that something went wrong somewhere. The reasons can be as varied as a lack of match in qualifications, work style or some other characteristic to simply finding someone who is better suited for the position. Else, she may even have unknowingly messed up in the interview leading to her disqualification. Yet, Anjali cannot rest until she knows the true reason.

In fact, understanding why one was rejected is quite crucial as it can help in one’s future job search, even improving the chances of success the next time round.

Well, if you are really keen on finding out why you were unsuccessful, it makes sense to forthrightly ask the hiring manager the same.

This may appear a bit unpalatable considering that he has just rejected you, but remember that by far he is the only one who knows why you really didn’t get the job.

So, begin by telephoning/emailing the person who interviewed you and requesting feedback on where you fell short for the open position. You can say/write something like, “I was wondering if you might be willing to give me some advice for the future: Are there things you could share with me about what I could have done to be a stronger candidate?”

You can vary the phrasing of questions like, ‘What did I do well?’ ‘Where did I lack? ‘How could I have performed better?’ But what is important is to sound polite and sincere in a way that makes him want to help you.

Bear in mind that you will not try to churn the past by arguing the decision, rationalising your behaviour or get him to change his mind. Your only aim is to solicit objective pointers on where you went wrong as well as how you can improve for the future.Despite your best efforts, the hiring manager may not always be willing to state the true reasons openly. Most interviewers are afraid that they will say something wrong that invites legal action and prefer to either remain silent or resort to vague responses to the tune of ‘You did not fit in’ or ‘we decided to go in a different direction’!

If you do get lucky and manage to elicit a candid response, you have to remain professional in the face of the honest critique even if you don’t like what you hear. Try to engage in a pleasant conversation without getting the wee bit defensive. Instead courteously press for additional guidance on what skills or knowledge you need to gain further, how you can improve in the interview or even other outlets for your job search.

In addition, you can also subtly request the interviewer to keep you in mind if another position becomes available where you would be a good fit!

Once you gain some solid suggestions like ‘missing a critical skill’, ‘need to upgrade qualifications’ or ‘underplaying during interview’, immediately make a start on the same so as to develop yourself for the next opportunity.

And, never forget to appreciate the feedback with a genuine ‘Thank you’ that shows that you really value the opinions.

In short, prudently seeking feedback on a job rejection displays your confidence and maturity in a way that leaves a lasting positive impression. What’s more, if the candidate they hired turns down the job or does not work out, guess who they are likely to turn to next.