How to Give Interview Feedback

One of the best, but also most difficult, things you can do for candidates after an interview is to give them feedback. Feedback allows candidates to know where they did well and where they can improve. If they got the job they know where they should focus, and if they were rejected the know how to do better in their next interview. It can seem hard, or even uncomfortable to give feedback to candidates, but it’s actually a larger disservice to refuse to provide feedback or leave feedback vague.

Post-interview feedback is key because it provides a better candidate experience, which in turn can save your company a good deal of money. Virgin Media, for example, found that it was losing around $5 million per year due to negative candidate experiences, and undertook a massive training program to improve their interview and feedback processes. Regardless of company size, giving feedback will be beneficial for both your company and job applicants.

Preparing to Give Feedback

Feedback works best if the interview was well prepared. A standard set of questions and carefully made notes ensure that the insights you provide are in line with job expectations and are useful to the candidate. Before each interview make sure that you have a standard set of questions and that you can to easily take notes to review afterwards.

After the interview talk with the team, compare notes, and create a list of core strengths and weaknesses. This should be designed to be constructive, rather than just critical. This list is what you will use in giving feedback to the candidates.

What Kind of Feedback Do Candidates Need?

The goal of feedback is to help candidates be better in their next job, whether that is with you or someone else. Feedback should highlight the thing(s) they can build on and give them clear, fair answers about where they need to improve. That clarity in feedback is key. If it’s too vague the candidate won’t be able to use it. For instance, “it just wasn’t a fit,” doesn’t provide any useful information the candidate can use to improve.

What Good Feedback Sounds Like

Post interview feedback should generally follow a structure that looks like this:

Thanks -> Strengths –> Areas for Improvement->Advice/Next Steps

Thanks

Never forget to thank candidates for taking the time to interview with you. They put effort into their preparation and moved their schedules around to meet with you, so be sure to show your appreciation.

Strengths

Share what they did well in the interview and what it seems they are good at. Your compliments here should be genuine and not feel forced. Give specific examples and encourage them to continue to develop those strengths.

Areas for Improvement

This can feel uncomfortable at times, but it is essential. Rarely should you ever skip giving feedback on how people can improve. Share specific examples of things you felt were missing in their experience and/or responses. This isn’t meant to be harsh criticism. Instead it should be useful information that can help them do better next time.

Advice/Next Steps

Conclude by giving them advice on how they can take your feedback to improve themselves as candidates and telling them the next steps. This could mean they will have another interview, or it could simply mean that they should use your feedback as they interview at another organization.

Here’s a simple example of what this feedback round might sound like:

“First of all, I want to thank you for coming out for the interview and for all your work in preparing. It means a lot to see that from candidates. During the interview we were very impressed by strategy you when we introduced the customer case – and you did it spur of the moment!  Most people just tell us they’ll fix things, and you showed the ability to zoom out and see the big picture. It was cool to see.

One thing we were missing in the interview were concrete examples of conflict resolution. In this job you’re going to deal with angry customers and stressed out colleagues, and we didn’t get the sense that you have a lot of experience in this area yet. If you build on this skill we think you’ll be a much stronger candidate in the future.

Overall, we really liked you and we saw some great strengths you could bring to the team, but we don’t think you’d enjoy the role until your conflict resolution skills were a bit higher. I would recommend taking some time to talk with the customer service team in your current role, ask for their advice, and see if you could spend a couple hours a week working with them to build your skills.”

In this case you’ve rejected a candidate, which isn’t fun, but you’ve given them the information they need to be better at their job. Giving post-interview feedback like this will help them in the long run and provide a better candidate experience, which in turn will improve your employer brand.

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