how to give interview feedback to unsuccessful candidates

How to Give Interview Feedback to Unsuccessful Candidates

You’ve spent hours interviewing candidates; some great and some not so great and you’ve finally found just the right fit. You’re ready to start the hiring process and are tempted to just move on and forget about the unsuccessful applicants.

Wait a sec.

By skipping interview feedback to the unsuccessful candidates, you’re doing both yourself and the applicants a disservice. Research shows that 52% of candidates who were given post-interview feedback were more likely to continue a relationship with the company they interviewed at. It’s also important to evaluate how you handled the interview process, so that you can improve your hiring skills. Plus, providing feedback to unsuccessful candidates demonstrates that everyone in the business should understand how crucial feedback is when making sure they deliver great customer experiences.

So, how do you handle giving interview feedback to unsuccessful candidates? Let’s walk through our top tips.

Be Aware That Some People Might Not Want Interview Feedback At All

If you’re the one giving interview feedback to unsuccessful candidates, be aware that some people might not want feedback at all. Some candidates may simply want to know whether they were successful or not, and if so, what the next steps are for them.

Therefore, if you’re providing feedback, then ask the question, ‘would you like feedback’. If they don’t, then respect that decision.

Give Feedback as Soon as Possible

You should give feedback as soon as you can after the interview. The sooner you can tell a candidate that they didn’t get the job, the better for both of you. You can continue with your employee search (if you haven’t found the right one yet) and they can continue with their job search.

Give Feedback in Person or Over the Phone

Giving rough or negative feedback in person or via a phone call is better than other methods, such as email or text message. It’s likely that the candidate will be able to hear your tone and body language, which can be hard to convey through written correspondence.

Being rejected from a job can be hard for the candidate so make sure that you’re always sympathetic and provide help and support where you can for their next interview.

– Laura Beddow, Senior Consultant, Proactive Personnel, Telford

Avoid giving feedback in a group setting where there may be others present, as this can cause the candidate to feel embarrassed – especially if the feedback is negative.

Senior consultant for Proactive Personnel Telford branch, Laura Beddow, says “Always advise the candidate that they have been unsuccessful via phone as this shows a personal touch. Thank them for taking the time to attend the interview but tell them on this occasion, they haven’t been successful.

“Always try and be as honest as possible with the feedback so the candidate knows what areas to improve on for next time. Tell them that you’ll put them forward for other roles as and when suitable ones become available. Being rejected from a job can be hard for the candidate so make sure that you’re always sympathetic and provide help and support where you can for their next interview.”

Tell Them What They Did Well

While it’s tempting to focus on what you didn’t like about the interview, telling candidates that they did well is also important.

Don’t be too general. If a candidate has been recommended by someone who is familiar with their work, use this information and tell them why they’re good at what they do.

Don’t be too specific, either. It can sometimes be difficult to remember exactly what happened during an interview, so don’t go over every detail; instead, focus on the things that stood out to you (good or bad). This helps keep your feedback fair and balanced by giving a rounded view of what went on during the interview and not just focusing on one aspect.

Be Honest and Accurate

When you’re giving feedback to a candidate, it’s important to be honest. No one wants a false or empty compliment; they want information that will help them do better next time.

But honesty alone isn’t enough. It’s also important that you are accurate and clear in your assessment of the interview process so that the candidates who were not selected understand how they can improve for their next round of interviews.

The best way to avoid being mean or patronising is by being clear with yourself about what went wrong and why they weren’t hired. The more accurate your feedback, the more helpful it will be for future interviews.

Saying something like “good job!” when it really wasn’t, isn’t helpful to either you or the candidate. Instead, try thinking about what could’ve made your candidate better prepared for the interview, e.g. did they need more knowledge about your company? Or did they need more practice answering common interview questions? If you share these thoughts with them directly, you’re going to give them lifelong career skills, which is a thank you in itself for the time they’ve spent preparing for an interview with your company.

Don’t be Mean or Patronising

This goes without saying; you don’t want to alienate someone who actually tried hard and just wasn’t right for the role.

Remember, if you had an interview with them, there was probably something about their personality or skillset that intrigued you enough to bring them in to meet with you in the first place. Instead of focusing on what they did wrong during their interview (which might not even be relevant), focus on how they can improve going forward. Maybe this person needs more experience in certain areas before applying again? Or maybe they should try changing up their CV format? Whatever you recommend, do it with grace and empathy.

Don’t Give Advice if You Can’t Back it Up with Examples

You might have a few key things in mind, like, “You need to practice their pitch” or “I would have liked to see you do xyz.” But without any supporting details or examples, this advice is purely just an opinion. Always make sure that whatever advice you give has real examples behind it, otherwise, it will feel generic and pointless to the candidate, and they may not take it seriously.

If You’re Going to Give Interview Feedback to an Unsuccessful Candidate, Do it Right

If a candidate is not offered a job after an interview, make sure you get the feedback right. To conclude our advice in this post:

  • Let them know as soon as possible. You don’t want to string them along for months without giving them an answer.
  • Be honest and open, even if it means saying no. Interviewing isn’t an exact science; sometimes even good candidates aren’t right for certain positions (and vice versa). That’s why most companies will want to give feedback on what didn’t work so well with their interview process: maybe something was unclear in regard to expectations or responsibilities; perhaps there were cultural differences between interviewer and interviewee that weren’t recognised until too late; or maybe there are simply many qualified candidates available for an opening and only one position available.
  • Whatever happened during their interview, give them reasons why things went wrong instead of just saying ‘no thanks.

Giving interview feedback to unsuccessful candidates is tricky, and it’s important that you handle it in the right way. Remember that every candidate deserves respect, and treat them as you would treat them if they were successful. The best advice we can give is to be honest with yourself before giving feedback so you know what kind of example you’re setting for others in the future. And if you’re struggling to choose between two great candidates, visit our blog for tips on this.