Interlude: Seeking feedback on feedback

Space Needle over Queen Anne

We were supposed to hear about my interview feedback writing process next, but I’ll keep that simmering on the back burner in order to get a more-timely reply out to a direct question, thus we’ll talk about getting feedback on your feedback today…

Alan, a friend who wrote to me on LinkedIn, asked how someone like me, a long-timer at Amazon, might gather feedback on confidential written interview feedback. At many mid-to-large companies, that feedback’s generally pretty well-protected in order to ensure psychological safety for the everyone on the loop, and to help ensure an un-biased hiring process overall.

“I’ll be interested if you could address how you got feedback on your review write-ups to improve them. Beyond the initial shadows of your interview how did you continue to improve your writeups?”

— Alan Hudson, Manager, Amazon Games Tech at AWS

Amazonians carefully guard interview details and our written feedback – we consider it highly protected and extremely sensitive information, right – I can see why you’d be curious about techniques to gather feedback here. It’s not easy, especially since you’re risking legal and policy matters.

One tactic I use is find out who are the “silent/other Bar Raisers” on a loop – sometimes the HM identifies themselves as a Bar Raiser, but one or more of the other interviewers also has or seeks BR certification. Because these calibrated interviewers also know all the details of the candidate’s performance on this specific loop, they straddle an improved position for criticism and improvements on your written feedback. Their unique position and knowledge allows them to speak to your work without crossing boundaries in re: candidate confidentiality and psychological safety.

Another way to gather specific, safe, policy-complaint feedback: via your BR mentor. Most people seem to limit contact with their BR mentor to their BRIT period. You know what? I still talk to my BR mentor from time to time, and I graduated as a full-fledged BR “many moons ago.” Your BR mentor also knows details of your work habits and patterns, and can also catch when you use the wrong “your/you’re” — like you do, every time you write feedback in a hurry.

You could also reach out to your BR Core or speak to your HRBP to confidentially discuss your draft written feedback, or to post-mortem the way your feedback was covered in a debrief, say if something went pretty wrong and/or you need to communicate up above your typical escalation points. It would likely seem unusual to effectively ‘just say hello’, but you could also reach out seeking a different point of view on your typical loop and the associated written feedback. I’m not sure why we don’t reach out to HR or the BR Core more frequently, but imagining it certainly gives me butterflies, so perhaps it’s simple human respect for / fear of authority that limits our access to those resources.

So, besides using your BR mentor (before or after you graduate the BRIT program), asking others on the same loop as you for thoughts and suggestions, and seeking feedback from your HRBP and BR Core, are there any other suggestions you know of, that I may have missed in this article?

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