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Giving feedback after job interviews – our top tips!


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You may be nervous about giving feedback after a job interview. You don’t want to upset the person by telling them they’re not right for the job. So instead you inadvertently upset them even more by not contacting them at all, damaging your employer brand in the process.

It can be a daunting prospect to contemplate.  After all, we’ve all heard the stories about disgruntled candidates who don’t take “no” for an answer and who challenge recruitment decisions and threaten companies with discrimination claims.  It’s no wonder that a prospective employer would rather say nothing at all than risk leaving themselves open to a claim by giving feedback to an unsuccessful candidate.  Handled correctly, however, you can ensure that unsuccessful candidates have no reason to complain about your company and you can even make them into ambassadors for your brand.

Giving feedback after unsuccessful job interviews is an essential part of interviewing. It’s important to give feedback on all applications but it’s even more important to do so after interview. Recent research amongst 1600 adults in the UK found that “the biggest recruitment bugbears for jobseekers was not being told that their attempts at employment had been unsuccessful (46%), followed by lack of feedback about their application (39%).” Not only that but people don’t tend to keep quiet about their experiences – they tell their family and friends – they’ll even tell their wider social circle on Twitter and Facebook too.

The importance of unsuccessful job interview feedback can’t be underestimated. It’s not just that your deafening silence after an interview has an effect on the jobseeker, but they will tell everyone about it. Your company will be talked about and, forgive me for stating the obvious, they won’t be saying what a great company you are. There just isn’t a good enough reason for not telling people that they haven’t been successful after an interview. End of story.

Being turned down for a job is never a pleasant experience but there are a few things you can do to sweeten the pill. Here are seven secrets to giving good interview feedback:

  1. Keep good interview notes that you can refer back to when giving feedback.  It will make the candidate feel as though you’ve taken them and their interview seriously.
  2. Be honest. If they haven’t got the right experience or skills you need, you can tell them so.
  3. Tell them something useful. If they lack experience in a certain area or if they could take another qualification to improve their skill set, they’re never going to know if you don’t tell them.  They’ll probably be really grateful for the additional information.
  4. Back up your comment with relevant examples from their interview.  If they didn’t give a particularly good answer to an important question, constructively tell them how they could have improved upon it.  This is where your interview notes come in.
  5. Don’t make false promises. If it’s a “no for now” then it’s fine to say you’ll keep their CV on file and get in touch if anything suitable comes up. If it’s an outright “no” then don’t promise to keep in touch with them, otherwise it’s wasting their time and yours.
  6. Make sure you say thank you. Not enough companies recognise that jobseekers might have to take time off (and maybe even make excuses to their current employers), and fork out for travel expenses to get to your offices. The least you can do is thank them for their time.
  7. Acknowledge their interest in your company. A simple acknowledgement from you that they’ve taken time to visit your website and read up about your products and services can go a long way. Who knows, next time someone wants a recommendation for your product or service, your unsuccessful jobseeker may just remember you favourably

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