Sample Letter Asking Why I Was Not Hired

by Ellie Williams

Losing out on a job, though disappointing, can bring opportunities of its own. If you tactfully and politely ask the employer for feedback you can learn how to strengthen your position as a candidate. Some employers even welcome the chance to help job seekers improve. When asking why you didn’t get the job, make it clear you’re inquiring for your personal growth and not to lay blame.

Show Appreciation

Keep your letter positive by emphasizing how much you enjoyed meeting with the hiring manager and learning about the job and the organization. Also, acknowledge the time she spent meeting with you and answering your questions. Open your letter with a sentence such as, “I appreciate the time you spent considering me and I enjoyed meeting with you and getting to know some of the other employees.” Point out something specific from the conversation, such as “I learned a lot about the work involved in marketing a company as large as Taylor Inc. This is information that will help me as I develop my career as a public relations professional.”

Don’t Question the Employer

If you even hint that you doubt the hiring manager's judgment, she might take offense. You don’t want to burn any bridges because that same hiring could later work at another company you apply to, or you might encounter her in another professional setting. She might also worry you’re looking for reasons to question her decision or claim unfair hiring practices. This might discourage her from offering any feedback out of fear you’ll use it against her. Instead, stress that you respect her decision. Tell her you know she faced a difficult decision and you’re glad she found someone who will make a good addition to the team.

Ask for Specific Feedback

Be clear about your motives for following up with the employer after your rejection. If you simply ask, “Can you tell me why I didn’t get the job?" the employer might toss you a vague reason such as, “We hired someone more qualified," or “We went in a different direction." Tell her you’re always seeking ways to improve your interviewing skills or more effectively tailor your resume to the position you’re seeking. Ask her to evaluate how you presented yourself, if your resume needed more detail, or if you need to work on your conversation skills.

Be Succinct

Limit your letter to a few sentences so you don’t overwhelm the hiring manager with information. Keeping it short indicates you respect her time and don’t expect her to read a lengthy argument regarding your qualifications or a plea for a second chance at the job. You’ll also come across as more mature and professional if you craft a brief, eloquent message. For example, don't spend an entire paragraph expressing your disappointment at not getting the job. Once you’ve thanked her for her time and asked for her opinions regarding your qualifications, close your letter with a polite “Sincerely” and leave it at that.

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