Human resource management

14 July 2022

4 min.

How to provide feedback to an unsuccessful candidate?

While it is never easy to tell someone that they were not selected for a position and will not receive a job offer, it is possible to put this experience to good use by offering feedback. Taking the time to review the hiring process and explain the reasons for the decision can be not only relevant and educational for the unsuccessful candidate, it can also be beneficial to the hiring company.

An unsuccessful candidate is more likely to apply for a future position with your company after receiving respectful and constructive feedback. Providing feedback to an internal candidate is also an excellent way to start a dialogue about their development plan within the company.

Here are some things to consider in order to provide the best possible feedback.

Plan the feedback

Be sure to schedule a time to give feedback as soon as you interview. Knowing that you will be accountable to the candidates will help you analyze the applications well and be more impartial in your selection process. Also, it is best to provide feedback within a reasonable amount of time, not too soon after the announcement. The candidate will probably have a better ability to listen once the shock is over.

Determine and stay focused on your motivations

A person who is turned down for a position they want may be particularly emotional, have difficulty listening well, talk a lot, or on the contrary, freeze. It is therefore very important to determine beforehand why it is important for you to give feedback, in order to help you deliver the information successfully. Some good reasons for providing feedback may be:

  • Ensure credibility of the process
  • Create a positive experience for candidates
  • Facilitate the future steps of the candidates
  • Increase the chances of an internal candidate’s development

Pinpoint the key messages to convey

Focus your message on three or four points that you feel are most important to communicate. Trying to say too much may dilute the quality of the information conveyed. While it is important to talk about the areas of concern that ultimately hurt the candidate, be sure to highlight a few positive things you observed during the process. The feedback can be about the answers to the job interview questions, the nature of the person’s comments, the fit or mismatch with the position, etc.

Start the exchange on the right foot

Arrive at the meeting, whether in person or remotely, with a clear head and a present mind. Remind yourself of your reasons for holding the meeting and be careful to communicate clear and constructive information in a caring manner. Give the candidate the opportunity to respond or ask questions to the points you make, but remember that this is not an opportunity to change your mind about the decision you made earlier.

Deliver the message in a structured way

Start by listing the strengths with concrete examples. This sets the stage for then talking about the things that went against the candidate. Avoid going back and forth between strengths and weaknesses, which can confuse the message you are trying to convey. Answer their questions as they arise and make sure you give them time to receive the information and express themselves as needed.

Ask for feedback in return

Don’t miss the opportunity to get valuable and constructive information from your unsuccessful candidate. Schedule a time at the end of the exchange to ask questions about their impressions of the hiring process. Try to be as specific as possible in the type of questions asked, such as:

If we were to meet again in a new hiring process, what would you want me to do differently?

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Providing feedback may seem like a tedious, time-consuming, and energy-consuming process, but don’t underestimate the benefits that this step can ultimately bring you!