I had an interview with the manager of a small company who sought a web programmer.

He told me he was glad to have had the interview because he ended quite happy whith me. Nevertheless there were still four more interviews and he had to finish them all.

A week later he sent me an email telling me I wasn't hired.

Now, I am really curious about the reason he didn't give me the job, cause I was quite sure about the result. And for other hand, it would serve me well if I knew the reasons he didn't stay with me... I've been thinking to give him a call but it may put him in a difficult position.

What do you think?

7 Answers 7


First you say this:

He told me he was glad to have had the interview because he ended quite happy whith me. Nevertheless there were still four more interviews and he had to finish them all.

I hate to break the news to you, but I am fairly confident he said that to each candidate.

A week later he sent me an email telling me I wasn't hired.

And one week later is not a bad amount of timing for a normal interview cycle like this.

Now, I am really curious about the reason he didn't give me the job…

We all are curious about why we were passed over for anything in life. But the reality you simply calling him might not result in the answer you want. For all you know you will get some more puffery tossed your way (i.e.: white lies to soften the blow but ultimately they just don’t want to talk to you) at best and at worst you will be a pest.

My advice? Respond to the rejection thanking them for their time & indicating if they ever need someone in the future to handle similar tasks you would be open to talking to them again.

Do you want an answer? Or do you want to at least have a chance in the future? My advice is to be as polite & acknowledging of the rejection as possible while presenting yourself to future opportunities. That is the best tact to be professional in a case like this.


I would not put them on the spot by calling, but I think it's acceptable and smart to ask by email. I would be polite and leave the door open for future business as JakeGould suggested because new hires fall through and disappoint all the time, but if you ask professionally I don't think it will be off putting at all. It may even make you stand out in their memory.

I would say something like this (maybe shorten it...): "Thank you for letting me know, I really appreciate your time and consideration. I am always looking for ways to improve my business and learn more about what clients are looking for in web design. May I ask what key factors went into your final decision?

Also, I was very impressed with you and your organization and thought your project sounded very interesting. I would welcome an opportunity to work with you on this or any future projects should you find you need additional assistance."

They may have told everyone they interviewed that they were quite happy with them, but not necessarily. When I hired a web developer there was one company that really stood out that we almost went with. But ultimately we chose someone else. When I let them know we had chosen another company they emailed and asked something along the lines of what I put above. I was not put off at all and my business partner and I spent a good hour or two giving them a detailed explanation of our thought process, what we really liked about them, but why we ultimately went another way.

A phone call would have been awkward, but the email was fine. The only thing that left a bad taste in my mouth was that while they had been thorough on following up when we were deciding and professional in accepting our decision and asking why, they never acknowledged the explanation we sent. Now THAT did irritate me.


Since they said most of things I think, I will be short.

Don't call them. He may lie something just to get rid of you. Send him email saying that although you were disappointed they had not chosen you, you would appreciate it a lot if they frankly and openly say why you were not chosen. Tell them that you would like to fix your flaws and he can help you be better on the next interview with another client. Thanks him a lot in advance.

If he does not reply anything, either he's an a** or you really screw things up. Since they are a small company, I guess he will be open.

Good luck!


De-personalize it.

Sign up with one of these feedback-form sites, or find an open-source one. Contact the client and see if the client is willing to fill out the form. Keep the questionnaire short and concise.

You might get further this way because the client doesn't have to fish for words to say, as would be the case if you asked directly.


In situation of hiring people, I like these, who com back to me and ask. This indicates the candidate is willing to improve, and often there will be an other chance.

The most pleasant way to ask (in my eyes) is:

  1. If your customer has a secretary, then call by phone and ask for an short appointment
  2. If there was a human resource employ attending the meeting, then you can ask him
  3. Else try to send a short mail with your questions and add the option for an short phone call.

The reasons for my advices are:

  1. Good Managers always are interested in good employees
  2. Most people can feel with your situation and will help you
  3. Direct communication shows your courage
  4. A written answer (in case of mail) is more laboriously than spoken answer.

    Ask per mail, whether you may come back for a talk.


Even if you were to call they probably would not give you an honest answer. They are either scared of getting sued (if they are in the US) if they reveal the true reason or quite frankly can't even remember who you were and why they rejected you. For all they know you are a grape in the bunch. Forget them and move on to other employers. For me, this has been the best strategy!


I own two businesses and can tell you that I'm a Firm believer there is no such thing as a stupid question. If you're polite and respectful with your approach and delivery and they can't respect that, then they have some issues to work on. Not you. Data is important. Get the data you need. I highly recommend approaching this via email and not by phone, especially with an eye-catching, well thought out, thought-provoking subject line to ensure that it gets opened. Keep it simple but be assertive. I admire the people in this world that aren't afraid of being judged and take risks. Just ask Tony Robbins :) Luck.

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