No, Really: Why Didn’t I Get the Job? Foreign Speakers’ Need to Be in the Interview Feedback Loop

Recently, I posted an article about our need to find out why we didn’t get a job offer after being interviewed. Something we said? Didn’t say? Just the basic ‘wrong background’ story? Unfortunately, interviewees quite often get a corporate-speak e-mail thanking them for their time, etc., but offering no real reason why they didn’t get the job.

Even more recently, I ran across an article by LinkedIn Influencer Liz Ryan about what she calls the ‘weak feedback loops’ that exist for jobseekers today. In a perfect post-interview world, she claims, a hiring manager/recruiter would take the time to give the unsuccessful interviewee some genuinely helpful tips on how they could come across better during their next interview. Ryan then writes an imaginary letter from the interviewer to this person that offers a few pointers for them to consider using the next time around.

What’s interesting is that while this article was written from the viewpoint of native English speakers meeting one another to discuss a job, how much more necessary this type of ‘feedback loop’ is for the foreign speaker of English facing the challenge of performing their best while sitting in the ‘hot seat’ of the interview room in, say, an international company whose working language is English.

So if I were to follow the example above, pretending to be a hiring manager and sending a letter to this foreign speaker, it would look something like this:

Dear _______,

Thanks for coming in today to discuss the ______ position in our company! It was great to meet you and find out more about background, both on the job and off.

You made a good impression on us in many ways, including your work experience in this rather specialized field for which we’re looking for someone new. Unfortunately, we chose another candidate this time around who had even more relevant experience than you and who we feel is just a better ‘fit’ for this particular job at this particular time.

But you asked me for some feedback about how you could perform even better at your next interview (and I’m sure there’s one coming up soon in your future). I thought about it, and have the following suggestions to make:

  • It would be helpful if you worked on your oral English more in order to improve your vocabulary and pronunciation. (I had some difficulties understanding you at times and had to repeat my questions, quite often rephrasing them to easier language that you could understand.)
  • In the same way, work on giving longer, more detailed answers to an interviewer’s questions so that you can better explain why you’re a good match for the job. (I had to pull a lot of information out of you because you gave such short replies.)
  • Practice looking people in the eye when you’re speaking. This is because in our culture, doing so makes you more trustworthy in our eyes and therefore more reliable as a possible new employee. (I noticed that you looked away or at the floor a lot while we were speaking to one another.)

I hope you find these suggestions helpful! Please contact me if you have any questions about them.

Wishing you the best of luck in your future job search!

Best regards,


Hiring managers have a hectic workday like the rest of us, but wouldn’t it be wonderful if this type of feedback could become the norm and not the exception? (And wouldn’t it reflect well on them? If at an interview themselves, these managers could say something like, ‘I wanted so much to treat every interviewee with the dignity and respect they deserve that I wrote personalized feedback e-mails to all of those who were interviewed but not offered the position…”) Finally: Foreign speakers want to find work and fit in – they don’t want special favors, either – sometimes they just need a little extra help to clear the job-related hurdles of their new country, and getting constructive interview feedback can help them to do just that.

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