Want a Job? Ask for Feedback: New Research to Help Job Seekers Just in Time for Recruiting Season

Nov. 8, 2019

Faculty Research
Job seeker

It might sound like commonsense that feedback received after a job interview might help you prepare for the next one.

Now there’s solid research from the University of Arizona Eller College of Management that shows just how valuable feedback can be during a job hunt.

The researchers found that when job seekers receive feedback that is high quality in nature—such as specific feedback about the structure of their resume or how to better answer interview questions in the future—they are more likely to undertake tactics and strategies that can improve their performance in the next interview. In contrast, the researchers found that generic or—worse—no feedback actually undermined job seekers because they were unable to learn how to improve.

Eller PhD candidate Nitya Chawla and Eller professors Allison Gabriel and Jerel Slaughter along with Serge P. da Motta Veiga from American University found that, upon receiving useful, valuable feedback, job seekers actually become more engaged in the job hunting process—sending out more resumes, spending more hours researching opportunities and taking more time to brush up on their interview skills.

The authors sampled 93 active job seekers between 20 and 38 years old who engaged in a weekly survey for seven weeks about their job hunting experiences, submitting a total of 394 surveys. Each survey asked about the quality of the feedback received from specific companies, their emotions during the job search and the strategies they planned to use moving forward.

A key finding is that job seekers were open to receiving feedback even if it was negative as a way of actively taking steps to improve their job search. In fact, not receiving any feedback—or receiving low quality feedback—was viewed negatively, as no feedback forces job seekers to dwell on their own shortcomings in an already fraught experience.

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So if feedback is so beneficial, why don’t more companies provide it? The obvious answer is time—on average, each corporate job attracts 250 resumes and even if only 5 percent are interviewed, that’s still a lot of people to invest in—especially if they’re not being hired.

But what companies may be overlooking is that when job seekers have a negative interaction—such as receiving vague feedback or no feedback at all—they may spread the word to fellow job seekers. An extension of this research finds that a company may actually be able to increase its brand equity and/or applicants’ intentions to recommend the company to others by taking the time to provide productive feedback to applicants and interviewees.

The research is published under the title “Does Feedback Matter for Job Search Self-Regulation? It Depends on Feedback Quality” in Personnel Psychology.

The Value of an Eller MBA

As a research institution, the Eller College of Management offers a rich classroom environment. That’s because professors like Gabriel and Slaughter must keep up with the latest developments, statistics and trends in their respective fields in order to conduct meaningful research. This continuous education quickly finds its way into the classroom—sometimes even within 24 hours. As a result, Eller MBA candidates are also up-to-date on the latest developments, molding them into prime job candidates upon graduation.

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