How to give interview feedback

How to give interview feedback

At some point in your career, it’s highly likely that you’ve received a job rejection. That crushing phone call is usually followed by feelings of “where did I go wrong?”

With some jobs attracting hundreds of applicants, it would obviously be unrealistic to expect to give detailed feedback to every interested party. However, those that have taken the time to attend an interview deserve some recognition, even if they failed at the final hurdle.

How to do it

It won’t be easy telling someone they haven’t made it, so choose the method which is most comfortable to you. There are three main ways you can choose; letter/email, telephone call or a face-to-face interview.

The main advantage of a letter or email is you’ll have time to fully compose your thoughts and spell out exactly what you mean to say. However, the main disadvantage is it can seem less personal than voice-on-voice communication.

A telephone call meanwhile is probably one of the most preferred methods because it combines the personal touch with quickness and speed.

Finally, a face-to-face meet up is rarer, because of the time and effort involved (for both parties), but if you have interviewed an internal, or perhaps very senior, candidate then it’s a particularly good idea.


Why it’s important

It can be easy to forget about a candidate who doesn’t make the final cut, but it’s more than good manners to give feedback. It reflects extremely badly on your company if you refuse to do it, and you never know, the candidate may be back for a different position at another point down the line.

Mark McFall, domestic managing director of Change Recruitment agrees, “If a client gives us good detailed feedback we can deliver that back to the candidate allowing greater understanding and the candidate continues to feel positive about that employer.”

Giving feedback helps a potential candidate learn and grow for the future, and as such is a great way to thank them for taking the time to consider your firm in the first place. Gill Bell, HR Director of Handle Recruitment says,”In the sectors we operate in [media and entertainment], we are increasingly seeing interview processes taking longer with particular focus on presentations. As such it really is necessary to offer candidates a debrief on exactly which part of the process let them down as it may have just been one element.”


Top tips for interview feedback

  • Be timely and efficient

Having to wait more than a few days can be difficult when you’ve applied for a job, so try and be efficient when giving feedback. The candidate may be waiting on your feedback before accepting other job offers, or applying for other positions, so keeping them waiting unnecessarily is not very polite or fair.

Ideally, you should tell candidates at the interview stage when they can expect to hear from you. A good benchmark to aim for is around a week, or five business days after the interview.


  • Choose the right method

As already mentioned, there is more than one way to go about this. You should choose the method which is most comfortable to you, and allows you to get across what you mean.

Chris O’Connell, CEO of Timothy James Consulting says, “We always give feedback over the phone. The benefits of this method are that it allows for a detailed breakdown and allows the candidate the opportunity to ask questions. The downsides is that a face-to-face approach can be seen as more personal, although constructive comments can be harder to take face-to-face, hence our preference for telephone feedback.”


  • Be as detailed as possible

Gary Chaplin, Managing Director of Communicate North says, “I make every effort to provide honest, blunt feedback. I don’t tell everyone they came a close second, people will only learn from mistakes and if they did badly, I will tell them as much. I ensure they are given the information, tools and time to rectify their mistakes.”

It’s also important to be personal, there’s nothing like an email titled “Dear CANDIDATE” to show how little thought and effort you’ve put into something.


  • Be helpful and constructive

It can be useful to have a list of points you wish to feedback to an interviewee if you plan on speaking to them on the phone/in person.

If you’re choosing the email method, take time to construct a helpful letter that contains lots of positive advice that the candidate can take away with them. Try to remain upbeat in tone, especially if the candidate performed well but wasn’t quite right for the role.


  • Be prepared to react to complaints

It’s not easy hearing that you’ve not been chosen, and some will not take too kindly to it. Be prepared for complaints, but do your best to avoid it in the first place. “If feedback is given in the correct manner and with the intention of helping the candidate, then there shouldn’t be a negative reaction,” says Mark McFall.

No Comments

Leave a comment (*required fields)