Asking for feedback is hard and I admire anyone who asks for it following an interview. I’ve worked with and for many companies over the years that are incredibly bad at giving post interview feedback. For many it’s a case of resource – taking some time out to give some advice to an unsuccessful candidate just isn’t a priority. Often the rejection letters come straight from centralised or outsourced HR that frankly aren’t in a position to give appropriate commentary on interview process – more so when they’re not involved in the interview itself. This makes the process of seeking out feedback really hard for applicants.
This week, I was approached by an unsuccessful candidate that I recently interviewed. I hate to use the word unsuccessful – they are successful in their current job, in fact I was pretty impressed – but they didn’t perform as well as they could have. I was delighted that they made the effort to get in touch to expand on the brief feedback I was able to give in writing.
Over a cup of tea in a quite area of the office, I was able to provide some feedback which I hope left the individual feeling powered about their next move and the potential for them to do well at their next interview. In this case, it wasn’t a case of capability for the prospective job which was a step up into a leadership role; it was a question of convincing the interview panel of it. Without going into detail, it was a case of needing to highlight their individual contribution in some key tasks, rather than describing the team achievements. By the end of our conversation, the individual had come up with some great examples of how they in fact would meet the competencies, was feeling confident that they could actually do the job and had an action plan of what they’d do next time to improve their interview performance next time.
Giving interview feedback to unsuccessful candidates not only helps them, but it helps you. This is essential if you want them to reapply – they may not have been the best candidate for this job – but you never know what will happen in the future. Perhaps another job or project comes up which they would suit. Do you really want them to write themselves off – or worse going out into the world and saying what a rubbish experience it was applying for a job with your company? Not only could they be put off applying for a future – so could people they know!
I also think there’s something in the argument that giving feedback to candidates also enables us to become better interviewers. Sometimes you have to consider whether your questions on the day were the right ones, or whether you modified your technique, style or language to suit the interviewee or even the level and type of role you are recruiting for.
Another advantage for the employer is that if we give good feedback – interviewees perform better – and the interview process becomes more enjoyable and less onerous for all concerned.
Feedback makes us better… ask for it, learn from it, and give it.