H habanero management social
0203 816 0873
Dec 05

Category: Employers

If you find it difficult or awkward to give feedback to rejected candidates, you’re not alone. Most hiring managers report that they avoid giving any feedback at all, simply hoping that their candidates will get the hint after weeks of silence or be placated by a simple, ‘thanks, but no thanks’ email.

Related: What to do when you don’t hear back after an interview >>

Why should you give post-interview feedback?

Failing to contact an interviewee at all after an interview, even if just via email, is unacceptable. While most companies manage to at least let unsuccessful candidates know they haven’t been hired, most fail to say much that could be deemed useful.

The thing is, candidates will resent companies that fail to tell them why they haven’t been hired. You might be thinking, ‘does annoying a few unsuccessful candidates matter?’ Over the long-term, yes. Candidates will be impressed that you’re taking the time to help, which will, in turn, reduce the potential that your firm will develop a poor reputation.

But how should you give constructive post-interview feedback?

Use your interview notes

If you’re going to be serious about giving useful interview feedback, it’s essential that you keep your notes from the interview itself. The usefulness of your notes, however, depends to a great extent on your interview style.

If like many companies today, you run unstructured conversational interviews that lack a clear set of questions and topics to be covered, you may not find your notes especially helpful. There’s clear evidence that hiring managers make better decisions when interviews are structured — meaning that all candidates face the same line of predetermined questions.

Interview in this way, and you’ll find your notes clearly indicate where, and how, the unsuccessful candidate scored poorly.

Read more: How to craft a recruitment process that results in great hires >>

Be honest but tactful

Unless you’re honest, you may as well not bother to give any feedback at all. That said, you don’t have to be brutally honest. It’s best to keep your feedback closely related to the job description and the position’s required skills and experience. Avoid the temptation to comment on their laid-back appearance or weak eye contact, for example.

Instead, let the candidate know where they were lacking in relation to your job’s requirements but try to phrase your feedback as areas they can develop and work on.

For example, if you interviewed an email marketing candidate, but they were lacking in experience using an automation platform, you might advise: ‘Staying up to date with email marketing best practices, including exploring the possibilities offered by email automation tools like Marketo, Hubspot, and Salesforce’.

Tell them something useful

Candidates need at least a couple of examples so that they can act on the feedback you provide. If there were skills gaps or you were concerned that the candidate did not have sufficient experience in a particular area, let the candidate know so that they can focus on further study or practice.

If a skills test or challenge formed part of your interview process, tell the candidate how they performed. For example, it’s quite common for marketers to be asked to produce writing samples prior to, or at, an interview. If these were sub-par because they contained spelling or grammar mistakes, for instance, let the candidate know.

Give positives where you can

It’s best practice whenever you give any kind of feedback to balance positive and negative comments. Writing in the Harvard Business Review about the ways Adobe give feedback to their staff David Burkus suggests a simple approach:

‘Feedback conversations should provide answers to two questions: 1) “What does this person do well that makes them effective?” and 2) “What is the one thing, looking forward, they could change or do more of that would make them more effective?”’

While it may, on occasion, be difficult to find positives, try to find at least one comment — for example, noting their research into your company, their impressive successes in previous jobs, their thoughtful and interesting examples given during the interview — that can help to balance your negative comments.

Remember to say thank you

It’s important to strive to give every person who interacts with your business a positive experience, interview candidates included. The rise of review sites like Glassdoor means that negative experiences can quickly start to hurt your online reputation.

Take a moment in your note to thank the candidate for their interest in your company and for their time. Remember, they may have had to take time off work or travel in order to interview with you. The least you can do is say thank you.