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Everytime I have ever asked for feedback after an interview, they say the following:

"You were a very strong applicant but we decided to move forward with a candidate that best meets our currents needs."

The equivalent of PFO
(Said in the voice Logan Roy)

Mark Wilson

For legal reasons I would be very reluctant to say (or even worse, put in writing in an email) that someone didn't get the job because of some very specific reason X. The unfortunate reality is that it is simply too dangerous to say anything other than 'it was a strong field'.


I've just gone through my university's Equal Opportunities Office training for search committee members. It was mainly focused on what we cannot do, cannot say, cannot rely upon, etc., and much of that would preclude me from giving any substantive information to unsuccessful candidates. However, I also discovered that in recent years, my university (thought not my department) has been sued both by unsuccessful graduate school candidates and by unsuccessful academic job applicants. This has required turning over all written communications about these candidates for legal proceedings. So, in my state, at least, anything you write down can be used against you. This has also led to our search committees not discussing candidates over email, but rather waiting for in person meetings, which has had the side effect of slowing things down with the search.

Gambling Addict

On two occasions I've asked contacts who know people at a department where I had a final round interview but didn't get the job to inquire about my performance. Both times, I was relayed candid responses. Worth a shot if you're in a similar circumstance.

The wire

In my American experiences, only once I was given a detailed feedback, and it was over the phone.
In the European context, it happened twice: one over the phone, and one over zoom (one hour feedback!).

But I want to stress that in all these cases I knew very well people in the committee, and that's how I explain this 'special' treatment I received.

rejected again, naturally

OP here. Thanks for the input, everyone.

Anon1 - I'm wondering if you can expand a little bit on what the regulations coming from the EOO specify. What sorts of things are you not allowed to say and how might that affect what you can disclose to an unsuccessful candidate? Part of the reason I'm asking is that I got the sense that this department was very limited by their bureaucracy, so this might inform my choice to reach out or not. The other reason is that I'm genuinely interested to know what these limitations are since I think this could help me have some perspective moving forward in the job market.

Some Experience

Recently, I've started to ask. The results have been uninformative.

Mike Titelbaum

One other approach: If you're a grad student, sometimes your placement director can reach out in an informal way to get some feedback about how you did in the interview, then relay it to you.

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