Take that feedback…and make it work for you

How interview feedback can lead you to career success

3 min read

I witnessed my first session of effective feedback during a meeting many years ago at Progressive. I was with a group of managers. We had three strong candidates but just one role. The hiring manager had determined her hire, and most would assume we were done with our process. That’s when the director looked at the team and said, “Well, the other two candidates could be our future leaders. Let’s get some strong, actionable feedback, and see if they can improve for the next time this job is open.” That took just a bit more time, but we listed a few areas in which each candidate could improve.

The managers in this process wanted to help—in my organization it’s a real sign of success when someone on your team gets a promotion. When receiving feedback, though, it can be hard to think of it as positive.

At first, feedback can feel like thinly veiled criticism. I’m here to say, though, I have seen feedback change the course of people’s careers. I truly believe the second-best thing to getting a job is to be given the guidance on how you could get it! That leads me to my first principle of making feedback work for you.

When you get feedback, develop a plan to apply it

About a year after that initial meeting, I found myself with those very same managers. We began to talk about one of the candidates who had received feedback the year prior. The feedback was focused on being able to show account strategy. The candidate had met with her manager multiple times and developed a plan where she worked on five accounts. Then, in her interview, she personified the second principle of making feedback work for you—she shared specific examples.

Share examples in your interview process “showing off” your new skillset

When the candidate was interviewed this time, she shared examples of strategy throughout the process. The entire interview team was impressed by how the candidate worked on her interview feedback—so much so that she landed the job!

Even if it’s a different management group, you can still take feedback from a previous process and share ways that you have improved yourself. An interviewer may ask, “What did you do to prepare for the interview?” That’s a great time to detail how you developed a plan to work on interview feedback. Or maybe the manager will say, “Tell me about a time where you didn’t succeed.” Tell them about how you applied feedback after a turndown. This leads me to my final principal of making feedback work for you—applying it in broad terms.

If you improve through feedback in one process, you show you can improve from feedback in all you do

Managers who are going to be working with you in a new role love to see that you can take feedback and make improvements. After all, training in a new role is all about getting bits of feedback as you learn, developing a strategy to improve, and acting upon it.

Now when I am a part of an interview process and we have candidates that are getting a turndown, I always ask the team, “What feedback can we provide the candidate so they can improve for the next time they interview?” I’m hoping to help more people take their interview feedback, formulate a plan, and then share their success the next time they get a chance for that new opportunity!

Before moving into her role as a Leadership Development Consultant on Progressive’s Knowledge, Development and Solutions team, Kathy Drinko was a recruiter in Progressive’s Talent Acquisition Group for more than 20 years.

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