August 25, 2023

Cracking the Career Code: Navigating Challenging Conversations and Managing Negative News During Your Job Search


Episode Highlights

Be Prepared To Have Tough Conversations In Your Job Search


Tips For Handling Rejection


It's Normal To Not Know Why You Didn't Get The Job


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In this Week’s Episode of Cracking The Career Code, Matt and Kierra dive into strategies for delivering difficult feedback and how to have post-interview conversations that will set you up for success in future interviews. Take these conversations as a way to boost your performance in your next endeavor and create rapport with individuals that may be able to assist you in the future.

Episode Transcript

Hello. Welcome back to Cracking the Career Code with Matt and Kierra, where we provide candidates the keys to success in their job search. In today’s episode, we’re going to discuss how to have difficult conversations, how to receive feedback, and also provide bad news when going through the job search because all of these things are necessary, but also important.

So Matt, you want to just start us off with difficult conversations? Yeah, so, you know, difficult conversations, it’s a reality of recruiting, but not just recruiting, management as well as just the professional world in general. And in my experience in recruiting, I don’t think there’s a candidate out there that I’ve worked with that would rather just get ghosted by an employer then hear a definitive answer on a hiring decision. So really these difficult conversations giving candidates bad news that they didn’t get a job, given feedback on how they can improve their performance for next time is really just a necessary part of the job, as a recruiter. And as a job seeker, you have to be prepared to have those conversations.

And, Kierra can tell you more about like how this really creates a trusting relationship and rapport with candidates. So, how has that worked out for you when you do deliver bad news to a candidate, that they maybe were excited about a job for? Yeah, it’s tough. Obviously you want the people that you’re working with to get a job.

I mean, there’s no better feeling than when someone gets hired for a role they’re excited about. Oftentimes we can provide feedback to specific questions that were asked throughout the interview. So whether it be a cultural fit or whether it was someone’s excitement. Believe it or not, like excitement during the interview process is important to a lot of hiring managers.

Yeah. So it’s important to show that. And unfortunately people have not gotten the role because of that before. They could have been a good fit in all other categories, but, that is something that we’ve seen. So I think it’s necessary to provide that type of feedback because a candidate might be a perfect fit, but it would be good to let the candidate know that so that in future interviews they can prepare for that, in a different way since they know then it wasn’t based on their skillset.

Yeah. And we often see people who are also good fits, but don’t respond appropriately to behavioral questions. Mm-hmm. And by that I just mean when hiring managers are asking you questions, regarding around, how do you handle difficult situations with clients and, other scenarios like that.

They’re really looking for a problem solving, but yet collaborative way to come to a conclusion on those things. So we’ve had people get passed because they have spoken about how they don’t want to work with those types of people. So I think it’s just important to prepare for the behavioral type questions as well, because I think they’re just as important as the skills that go with it.

Yeah. Yeah. And we’ve definitely been seeing some of these themes come up more frequently in the recruiting market recently, you know? Mm-hmm. Candidates that are great technical fits, but maybe they didn’t show enough enthusiasm for the company or the products that the company builds or provides. And that’s all really important.

And we’ve talked about candidate prep a little bit, but, if you’re not working with an agency recruiter that preps you, do your research on a company. Do your research on the people that you’re talking with. And make sure you show that you’re at least a little bit interested in what they do at the company or in their career, even if you have to kind of over exaggerate, a little bit. Yeah.

And I think another common thing we’ve been seeing recently is just that question of like, how do you work with others on a team? And just answers coming up that just don’t really jive with the team culturally, you know, so.

Mm-hmm. But, you know, in other situations when candidates get rejected from a role, it might be kind of a blessing in disguise or a silver lining. They might be able to recalibrate their search a little bit, target different industries, different roles or different seniority levels that just might be a better fit for their experience and skills.

And when you give feedback and when you as a job seeker, receive that feedback and do it positively you can improve for the next job that you’re interviewing for. Yeah. And I think, I really like to ask people when I’m working with them is like, how do you like to receive bad news?

Would you rather have a call? Would you rather have it through email? Yeah. And then the option to hop on a call and discuss the feedback. I think it’s important to ask what people prefer because I know everyone prefers something differently. And some people want to process it before hopping on a call or maybe looking through the initial feedback.

So, I think there’s different ways to kind of go about how you’re getting that or receiving that news, whether it be positive or negative. But I know you’ve had an experience with this, Matt, you’ve gotten advice from a prior mentor. What did your prior mentor tell you? Sure. So early on in my career when I was just getting started in recruiting, his rule was if you were rejecting a candidate from a job, make at least one attempt to call them and deliver the feedback live.

And even if you couldn’t deliver specific feedback, at least just tell them they weren’t moving forward with their candidacy. And if you got their voicemail, leave ’em a voicemail, tell ’em to call you back. If they don’t call you back in one day’s time, then you can put it in writing that they’re not moving forward.

So I kind of always use that as a rule. Now on the agency side of recruiting, I do more often than not try to deliver feedback in real time, on a phone call, where it can be more of a back and forth discussion than just like a definitive, no, you’re out kind of thing. How do you like to receive feedback, Kierra? I think I would like to receive it through an email first. Okay. Just so I could process it and then maybe want to discuss it afterwards. Just so I’m not like caught off guard if I am doing something, at the time that I would receive the call. So that’s just my personal preference, but I know everyone kind of has a different approach to that.

But that’s why it’s always good to ask, so you know, ahead of time and you know what works best for that individual because everyone’s so different. Yeah. But also I just think feedback in general can be an opportunity to learn, reflect on the feedback. I think no matter what the feedback is, you can learn something from it and it might just be that this role isn’t a good fit for you.

Yeah. It might not have anything to do with your experience, and I truly do believe that if you do you get rejected for a role, there’s probably a better fit for you out there and it wasn’t meant to be. So do you have any other advice on how to kind of approach feedback or what to do when you get negative feedback?

I’ve delivered negative feedback, a lot and rejected a lot of candidates from a lot of jobs throughout my career, most of the time the reception is pretty well. But, occasionally you’ll get a candidate that has an emotional response to it, whether it’s, you know, they’re sad and super bummed out.

I’ve had people cry on the phone with me when I’ve delivered the feedback. I know I personally have gotten some BS feedback when searching for a job and getting rejected. And what I’ve learned is like, it doesn’t do you any good to get emotional or angry or sad or try to argue the feedback or give a rebuttal.

9 times out of 10, those efforts are going to be futile. They’ve made up their mind. Just move on. Keep on applying, keep on talking to different companies. Like you said, there’s probably a silver lining there of why you didn’t get that opportunity or why that company or role might not be a fit for what you’re looking for.

Yeah, exactly. And to get upset and angry, totally understandable, but just use it as a learning experience. It could be a good experience just to get the interviewing experience as well, since it’ll prep you for the next one, and you’ll kind of know what to expect or what types of questions could be asked of you.

But I think there’s always just a way to use that and turn it into a positive. Sometimes it’s tough because when Matt and I get feedback, we don’t get a ton of feedback. That’s also difficult, so. Sure. Don’t get upset with the recruiter if they don’t have enough feedback for you or aren’t liking the feedback that you’re getting because there’s not really much we can do about it other than relay what we were told.

Yeah. Sometimes clients say we’re passing, right? You know, they don’t really expand on that. Yeah. Maybe it’s, they have better candidates in play or more affordable candidates or candidates further along in the process. So, it could be a lot of different reasons why a client passes on you for a job.

Right. And if you are going through the interview process with anyone at our company, or working with Matt and I, we will always provide some type of feedback to you after an interview process. As far as just getting submitted to a role, if you don’t hear back, follow up. Yeah. Because it’s not ghosting unless you’re following up with people.

That’s just my personal opinion on it. We say that a lot. Yeah. Yeah. if you are going through the interview process, you’ll definitely hear from us. There is never going to be a time where we just don’t give you feedback or let you know where you’re at in the process. Yeah. So, yeah. So thanks for joining us today on Cracking the Career Code.

Go check out for more content and follow us on LinkedIn if you’re not already. Thanks everyone. Thank you.

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