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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.

Candidate experience

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

Giving feedback

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 Don’ts

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.

Want to know to more? Contact Us

Our purpose is to ensure the best people join your team at the right time.

We were founded to create a value-adding recruitment experience that goes beyond the usual transactional approach because one size fits does not fill all - businesses going through change need bespoke, adaptable recruitment solutions and services created by experts. So we go above and beyond while complementing your in-house team.

We, therefore, work differently from others in the structures, systems and processes we use. That makes us more flexible and responsive – giving you faster access to higher-quality candidates, data-backed market intelligence and transparent progress reporting across executive search, staffing solutions and in-house recruitment service.

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