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Find out why you weren’t hired: SAR your employer for their interview notes

Sitting man interviewed by employers panel with SAR (Subject Access Request) letters above

In a world with an increasingly saturated job market, interview feedback has become more crucial than ever to pinpoint your biggest areas of improvement and how you come across to employers during interviews.

Luckily, an aspiring barrister discovered a way to use his data protection rights under GDPR to send a subject access request (SAR). This allowed him to contact potential employers and demand a copy of his application interview notes to find out exactly why he wasn’t hired.

Know your rights

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a European law that came into force in 2018 that gives individuals greater control over their personal data.

Personal data is any information that allows a person to be directly, or indirectly, identified, such as a person's name or ID number. For example, an email or a filed paper copy of a document involving your name combined with any comments about you would count as your personal information.

Under GDPR, you have the right of access. This means you have the right to access and receive a copy of your personal data, and any other supplementary information. You can do this by sending any organisation a SAR.

Typically, this right is exercised by individuals who want to understand how and why organisations are using their data, and check they are doing it lawfully. But this right can also extend to sending a SAR to a potential employer for their interview notes about you.

It works: an aspiring barrister successfully uses SARs to access interview comments

Recently, an aspiring barrister innovatively exercised his rights under GDPR to send SARs to the top 20 UK legal chambers, aiming to find out exactly why he wasn’t hired for the job. He managed to access internal storing sheets, application criteria and interview notes. The interview notes contained some eye-catching comments like:

  • ‘extremely articulate but show-offy’
  • ‘brilliant but exhausting’
  • ‘prone to slightly pretentious references’

Okay, the truth hurts - you may have to mentally prepare yourself for potential unsavoury comments about yourself. After all, this information may not have been released to you for a reason! But this type of information, how you come across socially beyond your academic or professional achievements, is invaluable: it's likely unattainable any other way and could be the difference between getting hired or not.

We recommend asking for interview feedback within 24 hours of receiving a rejection notice. But, if a company cites ‘lack of resources’ (as many chambers do) as a reason for not giving you feedback, or if you think the feedback you receive is too vague or something may be missing, you have nothing to lose by sending that company a SAR.

How do I send a SAR?

Unsurprisingly, the move by the aspiring barrister inspired others to do the same - and we don’t see why you shouldn’t too!

You can send SARs to companies on your own by emailing them, or you can use the Rightly platform. Our platform allows you to send multiple SARs at once to any company and view the information securely. It's quick, easy-to-use and completely free!

Find out exactly where you went wrong during an interview by searching for the company and sending a request. If you can't find the company, get in touch.

We recommend doing this as quickly as possible before interview notes are destroyed or companies catch on and stop taking such detailed notes!

Send a request today

Final thoughts

Job searching takes up a lot of time and energy. Exercising your right of access under GDPR to gain accurate interview feedback could be the invaluable information you need to work on your weaknesses and get you that dream job. Remember, you have the right to access any personal information a company holds on you.

Good luck, and if you have any questions, please do get in touch - we’d love to hear from you!