You’re reading an excerpt of Land Your Dream Design Job, a book by Dan Shilov. Filled with hard-won, personal insights, it is a comprehensive guide to landing a product design role in a startup, agency, or tech company, and covers the entire design interview process from beginning to end, for experienced and aspriring designers. Purchase the book to support the author and the ad-free Holloway reading experience. You get instant digital access, commentary and future updates, and a high-quality PDF download.

First Step—Ask for Feedback

So let’s say you got an email similar to the one above. Now’s a good time to follow up with the hiring manager or recruiter or both and ask for feedback (thus demonstrating self-awareness and a growth mindset in the process).

Here’s a general template to follow:

  1. Thank them for giving their time.

  2. Mention how you’re interested in the role and would like to be kept on the radar even if now’s not the right time.

  3. Ask for feedback. You’d like to improve and it would be helpful to know about your growth areas so that you can be an even stronger candidate the next time around.

  4. Close by thanking them again for the opportunity.

Companies are hesitant to share feedback. In short, it might expose them to litigation if the candidate feels they’ve been rejected unjustly due to discrimination. Unfortunately this incentivizes most companies to avoid feedback altogether.

Most of the time, you might get a carefully worded response mentioning an area of concern in no specific terms. You’ll need to read between the lines here. For example, if the recruiter said your soft skills need work—think of how you presented yourself or how you came across. It may be beneficial to cross-reference this feedback by asking a current or former colleague for their (radically honest) assessment.

The granularity of feedback will vary from nonexistent to vague, but even then I would still encourage you to ask for it as it may uncover your blind spots—mistakes that you’re completely unaware of.

Framework for Working Through Feedback

Over time you’ll accumulate different and potentially conflicting feedback. This is why it always helps to have a career roadmap for your next step in the journey. Some feedback will be relevant—some won’t be. A roadmap helps you prioritize.

Figure: Breaking Feedback Down
Break feedback down into quadrants
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