Want The Truth? You Can’t Handle The Truth

Some of us don’t like hearing the truth. The truth hurts. I get that. After 2-3 voice mail messages and a couple of e-mails you can generally spot candidates who want their own version of the truth about how they did on their interview. In all my years in business, the one key point about communication and news is that (usually speaking) good news travels fast. If a client is blown away with talent that we’ve introduced them to, they’re usually quick to let us know how they feel. On the other hand, if they’re hard to reach after an interview, or a day or so has gone by since the interview took place, you can ALL IN when betting on the type of news you will be getting.

Candidates don’t want to hear that. Never. It doesn’t matter what the client thinks or what you think – without question (in their humble opinions) they knocked the cover off the ball. They L-O-V-E-D ME! I did GREAT! These candidates are hanging around (in stand-by mode) just waiting on a juicy offer to arrive. It’s rare for a candidate to call after an interview and tell us things didn’t go well. And I do mean it’s rare – I can count the times I’ve heard honest feedback on a poor performance on one hand. Here’s the problem and the point of this rant: as poorly as a candidate has done (and trust me they know it), they beat the doors down for feedback. We always want to provide feedback as we get it. If we haven’t heard from our client, we don’t have anything to share. Nothing.

Desperate times call for desperate measures, and some candidates just don’t want to wait. Nope – they’d just rather call and call and call until they become a nuisance. Once we get the news… well, this overly anxious species can’t handle rejection. What do you mean it didn’t go well? Sharing the news with this segment of the market makes them go ballistic. Candidates need to understand that it’s not always the news we hear that matters – it’s  the way you handle it. Deal with facts and not emotions, and you’ll get much more out of a bad experience.

My advice: LISTEN and LEARN. If you blew an interview, try to find out why. It’s not the end of the world. Was it style, did you talk too much, arrive late, have poor chemistry with the hiring manager, or did you just not fit in with the culture?  This isn’t a one-size-fits-all world, and none of us can be all things to all people. Listen to the feedback, learn from the feedback and try to make sure your next interview goes much better. If you haven’t been on an interview in years, you definitely want to hear honest feedback to improve your odds when you get another chance. And you will. Trust me – you will.

BOTTOM LINE: On feedback – If you really want the truth – make sure you can handle it!

About the author


Tim Tolan

Tim Tolan is the Senior Partner of the Healthcare IT and Services Practice of Sanford Rose Associates. He has conducted searches for CEOs, presidents, senior vice presidents, vice presidents of business development, product development and sales. Tim is also the co-author of "The CEO’s Guide to Talent Acquisition – Finding Talent Your Competitors Overlook," available on Amazon.


  • Great post Tim! I believe the skill of receiving negative feedback has to be constantly worked on an refined. One of my mentors once told me to ‘accept all feedback as if it was a gift” and this has served me well.
    Also, I often do “practice interviews” with those I coach, and I am generally much harder on the candidates than their interviewer will be on purpose.

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