How to Give Feedback to Your Unsuccessful Job Candidates

Feedback to Unsuccessful Candidates Marks You As an Employer of Choice

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Are you interested in providing feedback to an unsuccessful candidate for your job? Candidates appreciate feedback because they are anxious to improve their chances of getting the next job for which they apply. Some candidates are also genuinely interested in improving their skills and interaction in an interview setting.

From the “The 2018 North American Talent Board Candidate Experience Benchmark Research Report," one study found that 69.7%% of candidates receive no feedback after being rejected during the screening and interviewing stages of their job candidacy. Another 53.5% of job candidates do not receive feedback after the interviewing stage.

Why not avoid the negative feedback and reputation loss with job searchers by treating your job candidates with dignity and respect? They deserve feedback. Here's eight tips for providing helpful feedback following a job interview.

Be Honest in Your Feedback

If you hide your feedback in a feedback sandwich or minimize, trivialize, or downplay the importance of your feedback and its impact on your hiring decision in any way, you dilute your words. Your candidate may not benefit from your graciousness and kindness in providing the feedback.

While you're entitled to your opinions and feelings, a candidate will not benefit from hearing them—it's best to stick with what they could improve.

Opinions will most likely spark controversy and arguments. You don’t need to tell the abrasive candidate who became prickly during the interview that your interviewers doubted he’d have the ability to work efficiently with an upset customer.

Treat Your Candidate With Respect

Even if the smell of the candidate’s perfume flooded your company with an unwanted odor or the individual dressed for the interview in a clubbing outfit, you owe the person respectful treatment.

If your interview committee’s reaction was, “Oh my, whatever were they thinking,” rise to the occasion, don’t sink when you talk with the applicant. The dig you might secretly like to toss out might be on target, but don’t cheapen your company or your position.

Have a Genuine Desire to Offer Assistance

Feedback is not something that you are required to provide for candidates; you offer feedback to improve their chances of getting a job offer. The candidate will appreciate genuineness and sincerity. And, they will remember how they were treated and share this on social media and with friends.

If you don't feel like giving feedback, don't. Candidates can tell when you're just going through the motions.

Focus Your Feedback on the Job

Correlate your feedback with the job description, job posting, and job analysis that you created for the position. When you keep the feedback directly related to the job, you most effectively help your candidate.

Make Your Feedback Constructive and Clear

Candidates need actionable, constructive feedback that they can immediately incorporate into their skill set. Don’t beat around the bush or obfuscate; the candidate may never get your message. Remember that successful communication is about shared meaning.

Give Candidates Examples

Tell the marketing director candidate that their recommendations for broadening the company's marketing approach (after knowing you for six weeks, exploring the website, and experiencing two sets of interviews) did not indicate that they had thought about your needs.

A customer service applicant who has not taken a look at your products or services can’t effectively answer interview questions about how they’d contribute.

For example, responding that they would begin by taking a look at that and interview department members about their recommendations when he started the job was a wrong answer. Tell the candidate that their failure to look at the product you sell or your company website before the interview irreparably hurt their chances compared to other candidates.

Tell the Candidate How They Did on the Test

If there is a skills test, tell the candidate how they did. For example, if there was a writing test and grammatical and spelling errors and incoherent sentences were present, the candidate needs this information.

If a developer is asked to do a whiteboard test so that you can assess their coding skill and problem-solving approach, tell the candidate how they did on the test compared to the skills exhibited by your last few hires.

Restrict Feedback to Actionable Issues

For example, if an individual is employed, you might suggest the areas that they need to obtain experience in to qualify for jobs similar to yours in the future. While employed, the candidate may have the opportunity to pursue your recommendations.

If you can, tell the candidate the areas they should strive to improve. Be prepared, though, because if you use this response and you've chosen to provide feedback, the candidate will ask which areas they need to improve.

If your candidate’s responses to questions during the interview were weaker than the competition’s, point out a few questions and answers that they can strengthen. Tell the candidate if they did not do a good job of highlighting for the interview committee the match between their skills and experience and what they sought.

In many cases, your hiring decisions have little to do with anything that your candidate can improve in the short term. Sometimes, the appropriate feedback is that you had stronger applicants with more experience and knowledge in areas you perceive as most important.

The Bottom Line

Decisions about whether—and how much—feedback you can supply an applicant must also depend on your sense of how the candidate is likely to react based on your experience of their candidacy.

When you can detail a few simple, solid reasons and suggestions rather than express feelings, assumptions, or opinions, you have a much stronger case for providing much desired and needed feedback. But, create a policy for your organization and ask interviewers and hiring managers to abide by it, too.