How to Give Effective Interview Feedback
Interview feedback is one of those things which, like many things in life, is done better by some than others.
Sadly, some don’t do it all. Why? Because they don’t see the value for the hiring organisation from giving it, or they simply don’t know how to do it.
If you create a consistently positive candidate experience, you and your company will gain a good market reputation, which helps you attract better candidates and people, which helps you create a better culture, company and achieve your goals quicker and easier.
Just think about your own experience as a candidate for the truth of that. How did good ones make you feel? And what were bad ones like and why?
The ones to forget will have involved things like starting later than flagged; not having time to relax before the questions; not being clear about the job; not signposting the structure of the interview; lack of preparation; leading or ineffective questions; no time to ask questions; not taking notes and not providing feedback.
Candidates remember not being given feedback. They invest much time in the hiring process preparing presentations, answering tests, creating work samples and many inconvenience themselves to participate. There is no point creating an amazing and engaging interview process if you're not going to let them know why they were unsuccessful. The next best thing to a job offer is an explanation as to why they didn't achieve this goal along with constructive feedback that may help them be more successful in future.
To ensure your organisation is consistently doing well on the things which matter, it’s good to create an Interview Experience Survey and send it to all candidates a few days after they have interviewed. That allows you to check what’s being done and said outside about your interview process and gain valuable insights.
It just takes thought beyond now and a good process, including interview feedback.
Planning for an interview
As the old saying goes, ‘Proper Pre-Planning Prevents Pretty Poor Performance’ and that’s very true for interviews and the candidate feedback which can flow from them.
Here’s our list of the pre-interview planning you should do:
Make sure the candidate knows what to expect at least 48 hours ahead
Read the job description thoroughly – so you understand properly what you’re assessing
Allow time beforehand to read each CV and the LinkedIn profile for each candidate
Agree to the purpose of each interview in advance and structure questions accordingly to ensure there is nothing vital you forget to cover
Make sure everyone knows their role - decision-maker or influencer
Write out your interview questions
Consider how to score candidates and make sure you know what good and great answers look like
Be clear about what feedback everyone should be providing
If interviewing in a panel, agree who will ask each question
If you're working from home, ensure you won't be disturbed.
Feedback planning considerations
Good interview practice makes providing high-quality feedback easier. Asking consistent questions allows simpler comparison and ranking of candidates, and it makes it easier to provide meaningful feedback.
Understanding how you will score candidates and being clear on everyone's role and what feedback they will be providing helps produce better quality hiring and more meaningful debrief meetings.
Setting up a debrief call at the point of arranging the interview will help the process run smoothly and allow you to manage candidate expectations accordingly
Similarly, good feedback processes help you do well on this:
Everyone should submit their feedback before the debrief to reduce bias in what others say
Debriefs should happen within 24 hours of the interview where possible or at the end of the round of interviews. Decide in advance, based on what suits your process best.
Keep feedback in your applicant tracking system where possible.
Ask for feedback in a structured way - so it’s easy for interviewers to give you meaningful information you can use. It's easier for someone to provide feedback when they're answering a question rather than just being asked for their input. It's easier for people to share their opinions when asked specific questions like, "What do you think our top clients will think of them?" or, "How do their technical skills compare with the job requirements?".
What to feedback on
The following are things we suggest you should consider feeding back on:
How you felt you got on with them
If you see this person working well with everyone
What you thought this person could bring to the team
What will they add to your culture?
How well you felt the candidate was prepared
Did their skillset match the role?
What duties, responsibilities, projects or tasks you felt would stretch this person
If you feel they can do this job
What support the candidate might need to succeed, and if your organisation can offer it
Any red flags or concerns. They need to be discussed with the rest of the group first.
What would make this candidate the perfect hire?
If you would hire this person, and the answer to this should be a "yes" or "no", and not a "maybe".
Feedback from such a high-pressure situation as a job interview – where people are being accepted or rejected – is a very sensitive issue, so keep the following things in mind:
DON’T make assumptions – check the facts first
DON’T ask people to prove themselves on something they’ve done. Think how you’d feel – it’s insulting. This also happens more to women and minorities and could lead to damage in your organisation’s ability to hire diverse talent.
DON’T make judgements without evidence. Challenge yourself to ensure you don’t have an unconscious bias – e.g. “hiring them would lower the bar” and be aware of “culture fit” as a response, you should be focusing on what this person will bring to your culture.
DON’T feed back anything which would be illegal, like commenting on the physical attractiveness of the candidate or their family circumstances. Again, you and your organisation’s reputation is at stake.
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