Interview Feedback

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The vast majority of people who go for a job interview will say that they receive little or no feedback about how they performed.

Candidates don’t normally receive any feedback other than a rejection and whilst some may say this is disappointing, it is clear that there are 2 opposing points of view that need to be considered.

The Candidate’s point of view…

The likelihood is that the Candidate invested time and effort in the application process, maybe completing an online application form, took time off from their current role and spent time and money out of their own pocket travelling to an interview (assuming the employer did not reimburse travel expenses).

If the candidate was committed to the process, it is likely that they spent time researching the Company, preparing for the interview – perhaps asked to do a presentation… after all this, they may be lucky enough to get a “we won’t be processing your application any further” or “sorry…”.

The candidate will argue that after the time that went into the process, they would like some feedback because it will enable them to understand where their experience or competence fell short and what lessons they can learn. It will also enable them to judge how they benchmark in an open market – they may have acknowledged that the role may have been a step too far, too soon but they will want feedback to enable them to better understand their strengths and short term development needs. Feedback would enable them to focus on gaining more experience in key areas.

Constructive feedback should enable the candidate to appraise their interview performance and  how they were perceived in terms of experience, gravitas, body language, attitude, appearance (be very careful?), communication skills, fit with the business, depth of understanding and technical knowledge.

There is also an argument to say that the higher the level of the role and further through the process you go, the greater the expectation for feedback.

Or, being highly cynical and controversial, the candidate wasn’t committed, didn’t want the job and only went for the interview because the Job Centre sent them and their only concern is to keep getting their state benefits.

The Employer’s point of view…

Whilst it is recognised that applicants do not have any right to feedback, it is sometimes seen as good practice. From an employer’s perspective, there are various issues

Time and resource – it can be very time consuming to give feedback after every interview and with more people applying for roles, it places a substantial burden on HR and its resources. Being brutally commercial – is this productive time?

Threat of “being sued” – we live in a highly litigious culture and this makes employers more “risk averse” and less willing to offer feedback. The expansion of equality, diversity and inclusion awareness, discrimination, woke, fear of the written word, GDPR, SARs and disclosure requests all contribute. Employers are understandably cautious about providing in depth feedback and will prefer to say little or nothing rather than get into a dispute or have their words misinterpreted. Where Companies are giving feedback, the likelihood is that they have been advised to keep it brief and to avoid expressing personal feelings or comments on personal aspects of the candidate. It’s so easy to fall into the trap of giving verbal feedback only to realise the conversation was being secretly recorded.

Working through a Recruitment Agency – it is quite possible that the candidate has been introduced to the business by a Recruitment agency or consultancy and normal “rules of engagement” would say that the feedback should be given to the Consultant to pass on to the candidate. As with any situation where information is being cascaded, there is always a danger that something could get lost in translation….after all, the Recruitment Consultant would much prefer to be phoning the candidate to be making an offer.

Putting the arguments for both parties to one side, it is important that feedback is given when an employee is already employed within the business and is applying to an internal advert because it is common decency and can also be an excellent opportunity to manage and re-align career expectations. Again, if a candidate applies internally for a role whilst going through a redundancy consultation process, some sort of feedback should be considered especially if they have been overlooked in favour of an external candidate. It will also assist their future job search.

Finally, giving feedback is an important skill that is often under-rated and is rarely more challenging than when the person that you are feeding back to clearly doesn’t accept or understand what you’re saying. Also, in giving feedback it is necessary to pick your words carefully. What’s that expression ……the truth hurts.

But, in a nutshell, there is no entitlement to feedback and if an employer is worried that what you say will be misinterpreted and could lead to some form of discriminatory claim – just stay silent.

Adrian Berwick offers HR support to SMEs and GP Surgeries and if you want any advice or guidance on the issues raised in this article, please either contact me on 07885 714771 or

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