Imagine spending hours preparing for an interview, scheduling time off from your current job to attend and then giving your everything to a probing hiring manager, only to never hear back about where you went wrong and why you didn’t get the job. It would be terribly frustrating and you’d likely want little to do with that company in future.
Withholding candidate feedback after an unsuccessful interview is an extremely damaging choice that many companies make. There’s a lot of talk about how important it is for organisations to offer an excellent candidate experience, but who sets the rules as to what this actually means? It’s up to individual businesses to decide how they choose to go about attracting talent, but one non negotiable element to a great recruitment method is the timely provision of feedback to unsuccessful applicants. Granted, it can be extremely time consuming relaying perceived strengths and weaknesses to each candidate, hence why it’s so important to put in place a simple feedback process.
Even if a person isn’t perfect for the role hey’ve just interviewed for, neglecting them afterwards will give them a terrible impression of the business and is likely to discourage all future engagement and probably give you a bad reputation within their wider network. You might not feel the negative effects of failing to provide feedback immediately, but you’ll ultimately be shooting yourself in the foot in the long run. Take a look at the following tips to help you get it right:
1. Use pre-made scorecards
It goes without saying that before an interview, you need to be really clear on what it is you are assessing the candidate on. Instead of taking down notes next to each question, try creating a template where you can record performance against various specific metrics. It can be extremely difficult to scribe and listen at the same time, so you might find your notes are hard to decipher afterwards. Creating a simple system to rate a candidate’s abilities, skills and behaviour will help you take away more thorough information and make for easier direct comparison with others.
2. Summarise and file feedback immediately after
This one is especially important for hiring managers who are interviewing multiple candidates in one go. To avoid forgetting important details about a candidate’s performance and your overall impression of them, always compile and summarise your notes immediately afterwards, and be sure to record them on your applicant tracking system.
3. Relay, don’t delay
Don’t wait an unnecessarily long amount of time before providing candidates with feedback. If you have to wait to complete other interviews before making a decision, let them know this is the case when they leave. If you know however, that they are unsuccessful, let them know as soon as possible. The longer you keep them waiting, the longer they’ll spend feeling anxious and the harder the blow will be when they find out they’re unsuccessful.
4. Be honest but constructive
Feedback is supposed to outline how a candidate has performed. There is no need to rip an ill-performing candidate to shreds all in the name of honesty, but it’s also unhelpful to gloss over mistakes. Feedback should provide unsuccessful candidates with compelling reason/s they weren’t selected to move forward. The feedback should be constructive and help the job seeker to be better at their next interview. Feedback shouldn’t be a soul-crushing experience that points out a million and one ways they aren’t right for the role, nor should it be a ego-boosting activity where you falsely commend sub-par candidates and fail to justify the negative outcome. Using examples will help you to explain your choices.
5. Always end on a good note
Regardless of the outcome, you should always end the interview process on a good note with all candidates. Just because a candidate slipped up or failed to convince you they are the person for your vacancy, doesn’t mean they won’t be the perfect fit for another opportunity in your team in the future. Even if you are 100% sure they will never be of value to your company, you can’t assume they don’t know someone who might be. When it comes to winning over top talent, a company’s reputation can be a life-saver or a deal-breaker, so don’t go burning bridges!
Providing candidates with helpful and timely feedback will not only win you respect from the candidate market in the long run, but will also set you apart from all the frustrating businesses out there who neglect unsuccessful interviewees at the earliest chance. Even though breaking bad news is never fun to do, it will get easier each time, so start providing proper feedback now!