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During my HR career as a specialist in-house recruiter, I interviewed approximately 10,000 candidates. By its very nature, I rejected more candidates than offered jobs. It wasn’t the most rewarding part of the job, however, a really important part of the process.

It was one of my missions to influence the business to take the management of all candidates seriously (regardless of the outcome).

Reasons for not providing in-depth feedback post interview

In July’s People Management, Helen Goss, employment law partner at Boyes Turner, John Lees careers expert and former chief executive of the Institute of Recruitment Professionals and Karen Dykes, a partner at Anne Corder Recruitment discuss the possible reason’s recruiters are not giving in-depth feedback post-interview.

  • Not wanting to give bad news
  • Too many applicants to respond individually
  • Lack of time and resources
  • Administrative burden (on smaller businesses)
  • Fear of the legal consequences

How not to give feedback

Giving bland feedback isn’t of any value to the candidate.  It implies the company doesn’t really care much about their applicants.

Giving vague feedback doesn’t demonstrate a well designed or thought through interview process either.

There are a number of potential reasons for not offering feedback.

It could be viewed as too time-consuming or too much effort.  There could be a perception that giving feedback is legally risky.

“Not the right team fit”
“The successful candidate was a better fit”
“We offered a candidate that was a closer match to our criteria”

Even before advertising, the interview process should have been designed and in place ready to go.  The recruitment process should never be designed around the candidates.

As much as possible the feedback should be objective and against the criteria for the vacancy. It shouldn’t be about personal opinion or feelings (liking or disliking).  Although, I’m not naive to think this isn’t an important part of the decision making for hiring managers.

How to manage feedback

Most recruiters will agree that it’s just not possible, practical or workable to provide in-depth feedback to all applicants.  A recruiter can receive hundreds of CVs.  Even with a sophisticated applicant tracking system (ATS), it’s still time-consuming processing the short-listed applications.

If you have a well designed structured interview process it’s real easy to give feedback. Each question will have well-defined indicators (positive and negative).  Each answer will be measured against this pre-determined criteria. There’s your feedback factored into the process!

It’s good practice to deliver the outcome first.  If a candidate was genuinely interested in the vacancy they may well be disappointed.

Once you’ve delivered the outcome and had a brief conversation, then offer more in-depth feedback. Arrange another date and time to talk through the in-depth feedback.

If the candidate is disappointed it won’t be a good time to talk through views and opinions on the same day as delivering the “bad” news.  This will give them some time to process the decision and reflect on their interview performance.

  • Deliver the outcome of the interview first (unsuccessful)
  • Offer and arrange a separate date and time to go through the decision in more detail
  • Explain how the decision was made and how they performed during the interview

Always explain that all decisions were made from the information shared during the interview.  Therefore, it’s not possible to determine if they are competent or not.  It may well have been their interview skills or techniques.  They may not have provided enough information (evidence) to make a reasonable prediction.

A business case for giving candidates feedback

Businesses often talk about reputation and its importance. It’s difficult to measure the potential damage of poorly managing a candidate, so why take the risk.

Employer Brand & an Employer of Choice: An opportunity to contribute to the brand

Public Relations: The recruitment process is a Public Relations (PR) exercise

Talent Pools & Pipeline: It’s important to keep the metaphorical door open to talent.  A chance to build that all-important pipeline of candidates.

Source: Prompted by a recent article in People Management July 2017 “No…..” Is that all you’re telling unsuccessful applicants?

Take the opportunity to manage all candidates positively throughout the interview journey.  It really will make a difference to building your brand in the market.  It will also build a pipeline of talent, helping you to future proof the business.

About Dawn Moss

Dawn has worked in a corporate environment for over ten years providing Recruitment & Selection Services, and has been involved in Coaching & Educating Business Leaders, Managers and Employees in all aspects of the recruitment process.

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