Job candidates expect proper feedback from recruiters. In the long run, this improves your reputation as an employer and attracts top talent. Learn how to give feedback to job candidates.
Recruiters typically don’t see themselves behoved to give feedback to job candidates. They simply cut off the people they’re not interested in from the recruiting process and ghost them if they ever inquire about the reason.
Job candidates, on the other hand, demand explanations. This is especially true about the candidates that have moved up in your complicated hierarchical interview process where intensive preparation and practice have been necessary. Job candidates demand some kind of effective and constructive feedback that could be used in the future.
In some cases, knowing the reason behind the rejection could help them defend their case and address the probable misunderstandings.
In general, giving honest and effective feedback to job candidates should be a standard procedure in your company. This will definitely improve your reputation as a noteworthy employer, and attract more talented candidates in the future.
Let’s see what effective feedback is and how you can give effective feedback to job candidates.
What is effective candidate feedback?
Effective interview feedback successfully explains to a candidate how they performed throughout your recruitment process. It’s objective and constructive and clearly lays out important information such as:
- Which qualifications, talent set, or experiences you seek and why;
- How your hiring process evaluates candidates’ likeliness to meet your requirements and expectations;
- How well their skill-sets, goals, preferences, and other qualifications are demonstrated;
- Suggestions for development.
Not all feedback needs to be negative, or explain why you rejected a candidate. When candidates successfully move on to the next stage, you can address your positive and negative impressions. This will help them prepare for further stages.
Why should you give feedback to job candidates?
Candidate feedback helps improve your reputation among employees and in the jobseeker market. It’s an effective, low-cost way of building or refining your employer brand.
46% of Generation Z job candidates say receiving feedback from the hiring manager improves an employer’s hiring process. This expectation will grow in the future, as more workers will acknowledge the value of the time they invest.
The more time candidates invest in the hiring process, the more details the feedback should include. This way, the time and effort they put in won’t be wasted. This is especially true for candidates who went through several recruitment phases before learning they’re no longer in the running.
So, how do you give effective interview feedback to candidates?
Use templated emails and automation
Templates and automated workflows can help you streamline the recruitment process as a whole. You can set up workflows that trigger feedback emails when a candidate passes or fails a stage.
It would be great if you could have the time to personally evaluate each and every candidate. But you can’t give everyone the same amount of attention. Some candidates will be screened out before making it to the first interview.Templated emails and simple workflow automations will let them immediately know they’ve failed to move to the next stage.
Automation is actually good for candidates as well. Candidates appreciate real-time feedback as it doesn’t stall them or leave room for uncertainty. PWC’s The Future of Recruiting survey found that 44% of candidates are open to using automation for routine touch points because they expect to receive regular updates during the hiring process.
Some job listing platforms have features that send automated feedback. LinkedIn, for instance, allows you to ask screening questions on the job application page.
You can ask applicants how many years of experience they have, if they have authorisation to work in the job location, or which languages they have proficiency in. The platform automatically sends generic negative feedback when the applicant’s answers don’t meet your criteria. It’s a huge time-saver for both employers and employees.
Spend more time for final candidates
78% of candidates expect to receive an explanation and feedback when you turn them down after an interview. Think about the candidates who made it to the last stage of the recruitment process. Consider the time and effort they put into a tiresome and often challenging process.
It’s only natural that they want detailed feedback from team managers and hiring managers. Pick up the phone or arrange a video call if you can. Give candidates the heads-up that you’ll arrange a feedback session. You can also discuss positive feedback later over onboarding if you’re going to offer them the job.
This kind of personal and constructive feedback is the key for refining your employer brand and cultivating your talent pool. Even if they don’t get the job, final candidates are often valuable additions to your talent pool. You know that they’ve successfully passed several phases of your recruitment process.
If they consent, you can store their data and contact them for future opportunities. Having a dynamic talent pool saves tons of time and energy as you grow your team.
Use your own notes to deliver detailed feedback
If you’re using an applicant tracking system, it most likely has an interview kit, or a feedback form. These tools can help you and your team keep and share notes during and after interviews.
But manual note-taking works too. Every team member who takes part in the hiring process should take notes on:
- Which objective criteria measured the candidate’s suitability for the position at each stage;
- How well the candidate demonstrated their know-how;
- How interviewer evaluated if a candidate is a good fit for your organisation’s culture;
- The areas where the applicants may want to further develop themselves if they want to pursue a similar position in your company or elsewhere;
- The education you’d offer or require the interviewee to undertake in the case that they’re offered the position;
- Other roles the candidate may be better suited for;
- Tips for future interviews.
Keep in mind that you’ll have to ask for consent when you’re handling candidate data, even when you’re going to store it for a very short period of time.
Some of your team members may contribute with personal comments that go against your equality, diversity, and inclusion policy. You definitely want to remove unwelcomed, irrelevant, or highly subjective observations before moving on.
Eventually, it all comes down to what kind of insights you want to derive from your team’s notes. Say, for instance, you’ve been hiring for a senior position for a long while, and no one who fully meets your criteria has shown up.
Moving forward with new applications, you might want to look for clues that show if a candidate is versatile. They don’t have to possess the exact talent set you’re looking for, but they should be able to develop it.
Deliver a straightforward verdict
When it comes to delivering your feedback, you should always avoid playing around the bush. That is, you should not include any false hopes or unnecessary niceties in your feedback. You have to put together a clear, objective, and constructive feedback with a straightforward verdict.
A straightforward verdict includes several components such as:
- Questions you asked the candidate & their answers;
- Assessments you’ve asked the candidate to take & and their performance;
- A brief evaluation of their answers and assessment performance;
- Reasons why the candidate does not meet your criteria;
- Suggestions for future improvement.
If you’re still struggling to offer constructive feedback, you may want to refine your assessment processes. There are tools to help you out, like pre-employment tests on role-specific technical skills, cognitive abilities, soft skills, and so on. Some talent acquisition software tools enable you to connect with job boards and talent pools and find the qualified candidates based on your criteria. This will help improve your pre-assessment process.
So, how do you communicate your verdict?
First of all, try not to give candidates false hopes, or, conversely, let them feel discouraged. If you’re planning to hold regular feedback sessions throughout the process, let them know ahead. They should know that receiving negative or positive feedback alone can’t be any sign of their application status.
Second, communicate the benefits of receiving effective candidate feedback. Make sure that jobseekers understand the benefits of receiving detailed, genuine feedback with development suggestions. It’ll encourage them to be more open-minded and relieve some of the stress.
Lastly, deliver your verdict in a genuine and professional manner. Always begin your feedback with a sincere thank-you note and explain the reasoning behind your verdict.
Make it a two-way conversation
Giving effective candidate feedback is just one side of the coin. You don’t want to miss out on feedback from candidates because their feedback can help you interview better in the future.
Seasoned recruiters know that having a two-way conversation is essential in keeping up with the young talent. You might be aware of the current trends that shape the job market, but trends constantly change. You have to keep up the conversation with young professionals to better project the state of recruitment in the future.
On the individual level, it’s important that candidates feel comfortable enough to express their good and bad experiences. Candidates often ask follow-up questions after you give interview feedback, so be ready for them.
Believe it or not, your good intentions may come across in a wrong way. You can, for instance, find out that a candidate is offended by the feedback you gave. No doubt that it was not your intention, and you can’t control how a person feels. This can stem from their lack of self-confidence, or their reluctance to accept feedback.
In any case, you can resolve a misunderstanding with a brief explanation. Candidates will appreciate you taking the time to turn their negative experience into a positive one.
Always keep in mind that poor individual experiences eventually reflect badly on your employer brand. Candidates might discourage others from applying because of a bad experience with a brand.
If giving feedback to job candidates is not your standard recruitment process, then you’re recruiting wrong. Candidates expect some kind of feedback explaining why they’ve been rejected and how you evaluated them.
This gets more complicated with candidates that have passed different stages of your recruiting process. Because of the time they spent on practising and preparing for your interviews and assignments, they deserve your honest and effective feedback.
Eventually, because job candidates tend to share their recruiting experience with other candidates, giving effective feedback will have a positive impact on your reputation as an employer. This will help you both attract new talent in the future, and create a valuable talent pool from current candidates for your future needs.
About the Author
Mostafa Dastras has written for some companies such as HubSpot, WordStream, SmartInsights, LeadPages and MarketingProfs. Over the past years his clients have primarily relied on him for increasing organic traffic and generating leads through outreach campaigns. Visit his blog, LiveaBusinessLife, or connect with him on LinkedIn.