Interview Feedback: why you should ask for it and why employers should give it

Interview Feedback: why you should ask for it and why employers should give it

Asking for feedback is hard and I admire anyone who asks for it following an interview. Interviews are nerve wrecking. Who want’s to prolong the pain?

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 rejection letters come straight from centralised or outsourced HR . This makes the process of seeking out feedback really hard for job applicants.

I was recently approached by an unsuccessful candidate that I interviewed. It wasn’t for a post in my team, but I am often asked to sit in as an impartial panel member.

I don’t like using the word unsuccessful. This person is successful in their current role. In fact I was pretty impressed,  but they didn’t perform as well as they could have and on the day someone else sold themselves better.

Over a cup of tea in a quite area of the office, I was able to provide some feedback which I hope left them feeling powered about their next move and the potential for them to do well at their next interview. To be very brief, they didn’t sell their individual contribution enough. They talked a lot about ” we achieved this”, talking about a project she had worked on. We didn’t see enough ” I did this”, or “my contribution was.”

We talked about her role and the valuable contribution she had made. We went through the tasks she currently does and how she goes about delivering them.  By the end of our conversation, they had a clear idea of the competencies needed in the job they were going for, and how they demonstrate them in their current role. I provided some tips on dealing with their nerves and building confidence. They can begin to create 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 if you happen to be sat on the other side of the desk. You don’t want someone to go away with a bad taste in their mouth when they may well have skills for another post down the line. You also don’t want them going out into the world slagging off their experience.

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 will perform better over time. We’ll get a truer reflection of what they’re about. The whole process becomes less onerous and more enjoyable.

Feedback makes us better… ask for it, learn from it, and give it.




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