No Feedback Or Generic Feedback Hurts Both Candidates & Companies

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I think we have all been there, interviewing, taking time out of our days to do research, prepare, and attend multiple rounds of interview just to get a generic e-mail saying you were unsuccessful with feedback that doesn’t make sense or even worse, just no communication at all.

Fair enough, I wasn’t successful, but why? What could I have done better? Do I need more training and experience in certain tools or technologies? Am I doing something wrong in my approach to interviewing? Or what does “being overqualified” or “not right cultural fit” even mean? How do I improve or learn if I’m not getting constructive and informative feedback??

So why is it so common that candidates aren’t getting feedback or getting the type of feedback they can’t take on board and learn from?

Avoiding Confrontation

Probably the most common reason is that it is human nature that we try to avoid conflict, or delivering bad news, so many managers or recruiters just avoid the post-interview feedback or come up with generic non-confrontational statements.

This almost seems like a difficult cycle that needs to be broken. From the candidate side, you have to realise that this is not the time to argue, get upset or negotiate the feedback. It puts the recruiter or manager in a difficult position and comes across unprofessional. It is time to do some self-reflection and analyse to see if there is truth in the feedback. We will probably never be happy with any negative feedback initially and often disagree with it, but you need to be professional.

From the Hiring Manager or Recruiter’s side, you have to realise that lack of feedback hurts your company’s reputation and leaves candidates walking away from a process that they devoted a lot of time to feeling as though they did not get anything positive or constructive from it. I don’t think there are many Recruitment Professionals these days that are unaware of the negative impact bad candidate experiences can have on your brand or your business (whether that be agency or internal), so it is worth being diligent and honest with your feedback, candidates will (or should) respect you for it.

Some Things to Consider

I have experienced it a lot where candidates are getting real feedback like “overqualified” yet treating it as if it isn’t valid feedback. Managers do care about how long they will be able to keep people in their teams challenged and engaged. Sometimes they don’t, they just need the best person within their budget, other times it is important to keep turn-over low and so the best person for the long run is the best choice. Don’t automatically discount it as invalid feedback.

Another thing to consider is that unfortunately around 8/10 times it isn’t something you as a candidate have necessarily done wrong in the interview, but simply that you have lost out to your competition due to something that is completely outside of your control. Maybe they have 3 years more experience and asking the same salary, maybe their previous manager knows the hiring manager and they’ve received a recommendation from them, maybe they had more impressive marks in University… There are so many scenarios where there is no real constructive feedback that the hiring manager can give you, it’s just that you did well, but someone did slightly better and there is only one role.

What hiring managers need to be careful of in this situation is to not pull random feedback out of the air like “not the right cultural fit” or something of that nature if it isn’t true just to give feedback for the sake of feedback. This leaves candidates wondering what they could have done better when the reality is it is outside their control.

At the end of the day, good constructive interview feedback is an important aspect of the recruitment process and too often is being overlooked, ignored or not given the time and respect it deserves.

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