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I received positive and negative feedback through email after giving a presentation for a job.

I completely disagree with some of the negative feedback, I was told I missed some key points, even though they were in my presentation and I also mentioned them verbally. There are some negative points I do agree with though.

Is there any point in addressing this or shall I just say thank you for taking the time and providing me feedback?

10
  • 1
    Who provided this feedback? Your supervisor/superior I guess?
    – DarkCygnus
    Oct 12, 2021 at 16:08
  • 1
    @DarkCygnus This was for a job where the manager provided the feedback.
    – MLEN
    Oct 12, 2021 at 16:09
  • Thanks for clarifying, will enhance my answer a bit.
    – DarkCygnus
    Oct 12, 2021 at 16:12
  • 91
    Consider that even though you thought you included those key points in your presentation, the audience didn't pick up on it. It could be that the way you presented those points was not clear. Examine your presentation and take the feedback accordingly.
    – Seth R
    Oct 12, 2021 at 17:22
  • 4
    When you received the feedback, did you get the impression that the interview process had completed (which is what I thought when I wrote my answer), or was it still ongoing? Were you still in the running after your presentation? If so, you could definitely follow up along the lines of what @Issel writes. Please clarify.
    – P2000
    Oct 13, 2021 at 14:13

10 Answers 10

101

Is there any point in addressing this or shall I just say thank you for taking the time and providing me feedback?

Yup, there you go.

No point in arguing back (specially if this was an interview). The point is that you were given feedback and it can help you improve. You were also given positive feedback, which is also good and helps you to reflect on your strengths as well as your areas of improvement.

Arguing back may not be worth it. On the contrary, saying thanks for the feedback will reflect good on you (your attitude towards learning and growing actually).

3
  • 56
    And also: The negative feedback you disagree with can be a pointer for improvement: If you did mention it, why didn't they get it? Maybe it was too vague, or difficult, or too much info in one drop.
    – Martijn
    Oct 13, 2021 at 7:39
  • 46
    Count your blessings. Getting interview feedback is invaluable, and most places will provide nothing else than "You did great, but we're not going to go forward with an offer at this point"
    – Jeffrey
    Oct 13, 2021 at 14:27
  • 2
    Yes, I completely agree with both of you guys. It's rare to get feedback from interviews, and even more rare to get positive feedback... and what @Martijn said is key for OPs growth here... perhaps they did mention it, but it would seem that it was not done in a way that is easy to grasp.
    – DarkCygnus
    Oct 13, 2021 at 15:43
47

Is there any point in addressing this or shall I just say thank you for taking the time and providing me feedback?

There is zero chance that arguing with them will result in them changing their minds and offering your the job, so you're just wasting your time and leaving a bad impression.

Maybe they'd already decided to give the job to someone else and you had no chance. Maybe your presentation wasn't as good as you thought it was, and things that you thought were clear weren't clear to them.

Thank them for their feedback, and once you've had a bit of time (rejection hurts), go through the feedback and see if there are points you can take onboard. And then move on to the next application.

Good luck.

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  • 4
    "There is zero chance that arguing with them will result in them changing their minds and offering your the job, so you're just wasting your time and leaving a bad impression." On the other hand, it's also possible that this is another test of character and the way to pass it is to argue back with them to show that you won't simply accept inaccurate information simply because it's coming from your boss.
    – nick012000
    Oct 13, 2021 at 6:34
  • 13
    I'd like to mention that I'm currently three years into an awesome job that I got by sending an email: "During the interview the other day, I was terribly nervous. I fear I wasn't in a capacity to convince you of my skills and motivation. Please find attached a letter I wrote to complete what I said orally during the interview. I hope you can find the time to read it. Thank you for the time spent evaluating my application.".
    – Stef
    Oct 13, 2021 at 8:50
  • 3
    After the interview they had decided not to hire me, because my performance during the interview was so awful. After reading the email, they changed their mind and hired me. So, I wouldn't say there is "zero chance". They did find me awful during the interview, but they also acknowledged that I was ostensibly nervous and that this was the main cause for the failed interview.
    – Stef
    Oct 13, 2021 at 8:50
  • 14
    @Stef in your case, it sounds like you knew (and acknowledged) that you performed poorly in the interview, so by presenting better evidence you had a chance to prove that you were better than they thought. OP believes that they performed well, and that the interviewer is wrong - so it's a completely different situation. Your argument was "I'm better than I showed you in the interview", not "My interview performance was better than you said it was".
    – Gh0stFish
    Oct 13, 2021 at 9:11
  • 3
    @nick012000 One would hope that OP is not so desperate that they would indulge those sorts of head games, much less take a job from people who engage in them. There are immeasurably better ways to test that in a candidate. Oct 14, 2021 at 20:09
21

Thank them for taking the time to provide feedback, most people don't. They are especially loath to give negative feedback, so they went out on a bit of a limb.

Pay special attention to the points you don't agree with and try to find the reason that they felt that way. They have no reason to lie. Think carefully about whether they could have a point to make sure you don't have a blind spot to any of your flaws.

If you honestly think they don't have valid points, then think about what could have given them the wrong impression and what you should do differently in the future to ensure you correct it.

Take note of the points you do agree with, and address them immediately and figure out how to prevent those mistakes from repeating themselves.

Also, don't be too angry or hard on yourself. Everyone makes mistakes, the trick is not to repeat those mistakes.

9

An interview is both ways

They interviewed you and told you what they learned about you.

I was told I missed some key points, even though they were in my presentation and I also mentioned them verbally.

And you interviewed them, and now this is what you learned about them.

The difference is that you usually don't really get to provide feedback unless it's positive or after the offer, which may be frustrating if you feel invalidated.

So unless you have something good to say, there is little point to set the record straight: either you are right and so perhaps you shouldn't work there, or they are right and they don't want you there.

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  • 2
    I think this answer misses an important point which is to keep an open-mind and accept the criticism. Why did the interviewer believe you missed those keypoints if you think you didn't? Maybe you did miss a keypoint. Or maybe you didn't miss a keypoint, but failed to show them that you didn't miss it. You're going to have other interviews in the future, and every failed interview is a learning experience for future interviews. If you just reject all criticism, you won't improve your interview skills.
    – Stef
    Oct 13, 2021 at 8:58
  • 3
    @Stef whilst it's possible that your ideas about what happened are true, it is also true that the interview was just an idiot, or wasn't paying attention. Such people exist, and sometimes criticism is just flat-out wrong. Accepting all criticism as gospel-truth is just as bad as reject it all.
    – Brondahl
    Oct 13, 2021 at 11:54
  • Edit: "also possible that"...
    – Brondahl
    Oct 13, 2021 at 13:12
5

By the time they've responded to you with interview feedback, they've already made up their mind about not offering you the job (they may even have already made up an offer to another candidate). And their reasons for not offering you the job are unlikely to be entirely given to you as feedback; their reasons may not even have anything to do with you, if there was another candidate that was a better fit. In their minds, they're just helping you out by pointing out things they think you could improve, which might improve your chances in other applications.

So by responding to the feedback, you will definitely not change their minds and get the job.

If you received negative feedback that you don't think is correct, it means there was some disconnect. They think you missed some key points that you think you covered. It might be worth trying to figure out why that disconnect might have happened. It could be as simple as the interviewers were distracted thinking about other things and missed it, so don't beat yourself up about it, but it could mean that you could have improved the way you covered those points to reduce the chances of people getting the false impression you hadn't covered them. Their negative feedback may be misidentifying the problem, rather than simply wrong.

But either way, you're probably on your own. The company is extremely unlikely to change their mind if you attempt to set the record straight, and is not very likely to want to spend any time responding to questions about the feedback either (to help you get to the bottom of the issue). So pragmatically, the only thing to do is thank them for their time and move on. If you think the negative feedback was very unwarranted and wrong, the only concrete action you can take that will be of any benefit to you is to remember the name of the company and avoid applying there in future.

1
  • "they've already made up their mind" yes, a very good point. I'd go as far as to say that the hiring manager's reflection on the presentation may have had little relation to the hiring decision. Sometimes people want to do something they believe is helpful to feel better about rejecting someone, and they thought they provided constructive feedback.
    – P2000
    Oct 13, 2021 at 4:43
5

Is there any point in addressing this or shall I just say thank you for taking the time and providing me feedback?

There are actually two lines you may choose from: either that you are perfect or that you can improve. Your choice: my suggestion is that you, as have most of us, accept that the way forward is to start improving.

  1. Say a sincere thank you for the feedback. We / I too seldom get honest feedback. Never argue when given feedback! Honest feedback is extremely valuable because it gives you knowledge on what the interviewer saw and heard, not what you believe you projected.

  2. Take this feedback as a starting point for improving. Keeping on learning and improving is how we get better and better. No person is or can become perfect, and it goes for me / you. Remember that in an interview situation how others perceive you is what matters, not how you believe yourself to be.

  3. Ask yourself, others, and perhaps the persons you talked to what and how to improve. Ask your coworkers, friends, current managers, former managers and so on. Sincerely asking for help often gets you help -- try to understand and start the hard work. And if they give feedback or suggestions say thanks.

Or, well, become an enemy of the rest of the world if you already are perfect but others does not understand that.

2

This is a basic part of dealing with feedback, whether you're getting feedback on presentations or code reviews or creative writing or job interviews. Not all feedback is valuable, and you need to be able to decide which you're going to pay attention to and which you're going to ignore. And you need to put the stuff you ignore behind you and not let it keep you up at night.

Some feedback you'll ignore because it's not something you can practically do. Or maybe it doesn't agree with your goals or philosophy and will require compromises elsewhere that you're not required to make. Sometimes there are two valid ways of doing something, and people will honestly differ on which is best, but you can't do both. And then there are cases where people have totally misunderstood what you're doing or trying to do, or have erroneous ideas about what will work or what is a good idea.

The first task is to look at the feedback and say what you'll do and what you won't: you don't have to do everything even if it's valid criticism, although you might slip in a few things you're not sure are valid if they're easy. The other side is to deal with the stuff you won't do, and put it aside and ignore it. To do this requires a certain confidence, of being able to affirm that you're going in the right direction and you're not going to be distracted by irrelevant criticism. This isn't easy but you need to look at your strengths and what you've achieved and say that you can do this in your way.

Others have dealt with whether you should complain or take issues up with the interviewers, but I hope this answer complements theirs.

2

I've had similar feelings as a writer, when having people read a technical article or essay before I submit it.

People are at all kinds of levels; some follow easily, others are just being exposed to the ideas for the first time.

I realized that the people who really didn't understand what I was saying are the audience I want to reach. So although I feel "but I covered that!", some readers are not in a spot to understand it at the point where it was given. I used that to simply make my writing better.

For a verbal presentation, you can't go over exactly what was presented in the same way, but you have outlines and slides perhaps. Maybe you can have more feedback and engagement to make sure that the points you hit were understood, and not move on until they are. This covers cases where they were simply not paying attention as well as when they are not prepared to grasp the point.

Feedback afterwards is not as useful. You know they apparently did not learn some of the points that were in fact stated, but not why, or when they stopped following or stopped paying attention or misunderstood something.

You might simply have the situation where the people are the kind that have to hear everything twice. I've seen that at work, when explaining something technical or presenting an idea. This includes people who are bright and end up able to understand it; but it takes two run-throughs. It's like the first one establishes a summary of the whole concept but the details don't stick, and then the second time the individual details can be focused on.

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  • Yes, and this is more so why an interview is such a horrible venue for feedback on a presentation.
    – P2000
    Oct 15, 2021 at 4:46
  • I think there's some confusion, as some answers are discussing as if this was a job interview. I re-read the OP and it's a presentation given at work; the feedback is from his co-workers and possibly people from other groups or customers. It never says "interview".
    – JDługosz
    Oct 15, 2021 at 13:57
  • "How do you respond to (negative) interview feedback?" As they say, the bigger the letters the less likely it will be read.... ;P
    – P2000
    Oct 15, 2021 at 14:23
  • @P2000 yes, the Title doesn't match the content of the post. I wonder if it's a English translation issue. He clarified in the comments, "This was for a job where the manager provided the feedback."
    – JDługosz
    Oct 15, 2021 at 14:30
  • Also "This was for a job where the manager provided the feedback. – MLEN". Anyway, you can always as for clarification in the comments under the OP's question. But we've heard very little from OP.
    – P2000
    Oct 15, 2021 at 14:31
1

They gave you valuable feedback: you did not present yourself in a way that led to the outcome you wanted (you did not get the job). It is hard to see why they would actively lie about what they said (this situation is not a political campaign...). So assuming they didn't mix you up with a different candidate, they told you what they thought about the message they received from you. Communication has multiple parts (sender, receiver, transport medium, message and probably other parts like setting, body language etc.). It is on you to work with this if you want to have better results in the future and find out where the communication broke down.

Simply rejecting/blocking this kind of criticism is a useless waste of time for everyone involved. If the criticism was well-founded, then you just reinforce their impression that you're lacking. If the criticism is unfair, then just saying that also will not help in particular.

A good quick, first response to negative feedback is to simply acknowledge it in a neutral fashion ("thanks for your feedback"). Even negative feedback is better than none at all.

If the feedback giver is a person you will meet again (for example, your boss), it also behoves you well to let them know that you take the feedback to heart and will reflect on it ("your feedback has given me some food for thought"). If there is an obvious action for you that would remedy the criticism, it is good to add that as well ("I will do XYZ to improve ABC"). If you think the person expects an reaction from you, it is well to ask: "Can you help me come up with a good way to improve this? Let's meet..."

If you are not sure what they mean, or if you suspect some misunderstanding, you can ask ("Thanks for your feedback. I am note quite sure I understand what you mean by XYZ, would you mind explaining it in more depth?"). This would also be a proper way to respond in your particular question. If in this context a question like this sounds too "childish" for you, because their criticism was formulated completely plain and there is nothing else to explain, then you might slightly imply what you want to say: "Thanks for your feedback. I am unhappy that my statements about topics XYZ did not come across as I intended to. Can you help me to understand this better - do you think what I said was worded badly or completely missed the point?"

Obviously, all my quoted suggestions are just a baseline which you should formulate so they match your speech patterns and you can modify all of them as you like to bring over any subtleties you need to communicate.

0

Is there any point in addressing this or shall I just say thank you for taking the time and providing me feedback?

Bingo.


More often than not you end up as the fourth panel below:

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