Why they didn't get the job - giving feedback

No one likes to hear they didn’t get the job, but at the same time we all want to know ‘officially’ instead of never hearing anything at all on the status. An even better practice that most candidates want to know is why they didn’t get the job.

In this week’s blog post we talk about why failing to provide feedback to unsuccessful candidates isn’t just bad etiquette – it’s bad business.

Why providing feedback is important:

  • Candidates are potential customers. This professional courtesy is a reflection on the whole company. According to HRPR, on average, people tell one friend about a positive experience and at least 10 friends about a negative experience. If you don’t provide feedback to your candidates and just hope that by not hearing from you they will assume they have been unsuccessful, you and your organisation will start to develop a bad reputation in the industry and in the marketplace. As an example, some candidates who were offended by the quality of the feedback they received, and more so by the way it was delivered – have posted comments online leaving some serious negative effects on the image of some major organisations.

  • Providing feedback to unsuccessful candidates should be considered part of the recruitment process. A great hiring manager is able to leave even unsuccessful candidates feeling positive about the process and their opportunities with the organisation in the future. The candidate you reject today could be a perfect fit for another position in the future.

  • Giving feedback is not only good for your company, but you’re also helping the candidate to understand where their strengths and weaknesses lie. Candidates need to understand how they can improve.

So you believe that providing feedback is integral to the hiring process and the overall image of your organisation, but what do you say to someone who didn’t quite make it this time? Explaining to somebody why they didn’t get the job can be awkward. But it can also have an entirely positive effect, especially if this was a particularly strong candidate.

Here are some tips to deliver feedback to unsuccessful candidates:

1. Be Honest

No one likes delivering bad news which is why it can be easy to sugar coat negative feedback, but it’s important to try and be as honest and objective as possible. While you shouldn’t go as far as saying some saying someone came to the interview dressed like a vagrant or that they seemed lazy or obnoxious, objective honesty is always the best policy. Don’t just tell them a bunch of generic reasons with no real substance behind it, as there are real benefits when you provide a detailed assessment of an interviewee’s performance.

2.      Stay Constructive

While it’s important to be honest, it’s also important to try and be constructive with any feedback you give. Rather than just pointing out the candidate’s mistakes and shortcomings, you should also let the candidate know what they did well. Without this, they may not highlight their strong points quite as much in future applications, or even worse, ignore them altogether because they felt that they were not important or that the decision makers were not interested in those skills or attributes.

When you do deliver negative feedback, be sure to try and make it constructive and tell the candidate what they could have done differently and what other experience and skills they’d have needed on their CV to get the job. Candidates need actionable, constructive feedback that they can immediately incorporate into their skill set. Don’t beat around the bush or the candidate may never get your message.

 3.      Provide the feedback out of a genuine desire to offer assistance

As you know providing feedback to candidates isn’t obligatory, but it gives you the chance to genuinely help someone and improve their chances of getting a job offer. Candidates appreciate this sincerity and your constructive feedback can go far not only for your organisation’s brand but your personal brand – a reflection of you as a manager. These experiences are positive ones and will be more likely to be remembered by candidates, perhaps even shared in social media.

What do you think about providing unsuccessful candidates feedback? Do you do it? Why/Why not? Share your experiences and tips with us below.

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