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Effective Feedback That Unsuccessful Candidates Will Appreciate

Providing feedback to all job applicants (not just the successful ones) is critical in any industry.

Looking at it from a different perspective, it’s also a good branding move. Because you can be sure that providing an honest experience to everyone who contacts your firm will have a good impact on your employer reputation.

In fact, when candidates are solicited for feedback, their inclination to get acquainted with your brand in the future, even if they weren’t hired, increases by 33 percent.

Despite the facts, only 34% of US businesses actually ask candidates for comments.

There is clearly an opportunity for improvement.

In this RisePath blog, we’ll reveal the main rules to follow as well as clear examples of how to give feedback that candidates will like; in this definitive guide on giving feedback to unsuccessful candidates.


The dreaded ‘didn’t get the job’ email

If you’ve arrived here, you’re probably wondering if you have to provide feedback following an interview.

No, is the quick response.

A corporation has no legal need to provide comments to an unsuccessful job candidate. However, we believe there is a major moral component. 

5 easy criteria for providing excellent applicant feedback 

Rule #1: First and foremost, keep the ‘didn’t get the job’ email genuine. 

Whether we like it or not, lying is ingrained in our culture. It allows us to avoid dinner dates, housework, and lunch with our in-laws. However, we should never do it when interviewing prospects (and, to be honest, we probably shouldn’t do it with our in-laws either).

Here’s how to give honest interview comments that prospects would appreciate:

  • When you’re in a frantic and in an, ‘I’m-so-busy’ state of mind, don’t give feedback.
  • Check your motives and make sure you’re providing input with the aim of assisting the candidate in their job quest. The candidates will remember the most sincere comments.
  • Keep it as useful as possible so that you’re truly helping them prepare for their next interview.

Rule #2: Make bad interview comments as personal as possible.

If you’re like the majority of individuals, you despise confrontation.

Of course, disappointing someone over the phone is difficult, but if you keep your calm, you’ll be OK. Remember, applicants have invested a lot of time learning about you and your company; the very least you can do is provide them with a great experience from start to finish.

Rule #3: Maintain empathy.

One of the most useful things you can do as a recruiter is to take a moment and put yourself in the shoes of the candidate. Ask yourself these questions – “What am I thinking about? “How would I like to be treated during the hiring process?”

Here’s how to maintain empathy with each candidate:

  • Keep in mind that some candidates have been in the game for a long time and this isn’t their first rejection, so be kind.
  • Mention both the candidate’s qualities and ‘weaknesses’ in a balanced manner.
  • Do away with the sandwich approach. It’s OK to end on a positive note, but it’s human nature for people to focus on the ‘bad’ or ‘constructive’ aspects of the feedback. Take the time to give it tastefully because that’s where the good, practical feedback often resides.
  • Always maintain a friendly and courteous tone.

Rule #4: The best policy is honesty.

Avoiding the real reason for not hiring someone is a lot easier for most hiring managers than facing the truth.

But, as a Head of Employee Success discovered, when she unintentionally shared a candidate her raw interview notes, the harsh truth can occasionally generate a terrific response.

“I’d written in my ‘impressions’ that I regarded the candidate arrogant… So [when I unintentionally sent him my notes], I was expecting a terrible rating or something. ‘Well, you must be very humiliated, but it’s actually refreshing to hear what recruiters genuinely think of me for once,’ the person said. Would you mind giving me a call to talk about how I can improve my presentation?”


“I called him back and we had a really good conversation that changed my mind about him.” “I would have absolutely invited him for an interview after that if he had the necessary] work permit!” she says.

Rule #5: Make your feedback systematised.

If you think about it, you most likely already have all of the necessary words in your ATS.

After all, as part of the final interview process, you and your hiring team discussed the candidate, scored them, and decided on the best individual for the job. You know why they weren’t the best fit, and unless your hiring staff is full of jerks, you probably have plenty of diplomatic language to express it.

Now all you have to do is turn delivering candidate feedback from an afterthought to actual recruitment mastery by making it the next logical step in your hiring process. This is how:

  • Use your automatic candidate nurturing system if you have one, but don’t overuse it.
  • Take the time to personalise your feedback whenever possible (even if that ends up being an email instead of a phone call).
  • Add the ‘unsuccessful’ candidate to a nurture sequence that contacts them a few months later to express gratitude and inquire about their job hunt. You don’t need an open position or any other motivation besides to check how they’re doing and how you can assist them.

Want to make sure you’re staying in touch with a candidate (rather than relying on automated messages)? You can set yourself handy reminders for this kind of activity in RisePath HRTeam. Simply set yourself a reminder to check out the candidate’s profile and follow up thoughtfully. And there you have it: personalised, scaleable applicant feedback.

Give unsuccessful candidates the attention they deserve.

Candidate feedback is critical to keeping potential workers pleased, because candidates not only deserve, but also anticipate, feedback from their interviewers’ evaluations.

There are a million and one methods to make prospects feel cared about, from sending a personalised email to systemizing your feedback. There’s no reason you won’t make the feedback hall of fame with the correct ATS on your side and these interview feedback samples up your sleeve.

Christine Lee

Christine is a former HR manager from Fortune 500 tech companies and has managed hiring, compensation and benefits, and payroll responsibilities for multiple companies.

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