Nobody wants to be the bearer of bad news. This is the reason you are hesitant to break the news to a rejected candidate. There are multiple articles, seminars and workshops that explain the need hire right, conduct an interview correctly and seamless onboarding for a candidate. A guide to communicating the rejected news to a candidate was very few to none.
The hunt for the best candidate always leaves you with two or three top choices down the funnel and the ones rejected might be a potential candidate for tomorrow. The list of candidates reached out to at the beginning of the process are more than just your potential employees, but the indirect employer branding speakers. This creates an urgent need to treat a rejected candidate with the same consideration and importance given to a selected candidate.
As a reader, who had most probably been on the receiving end of such a call, I am sure it was not a pleasant experience to get rejection news either. However, the rejection call with genuine feedbacks or constructive criticisms might have eased the pain of rejection for sure. This helps a candidate focus on the pain points and work harder on improving themself on the same and be a more worthy candidate for the same organization in the near future.
When you go into a restaurant and like the food and service there, you will probably go back there and might end up telling a couple of friends. However, if you don’t like the place, then you will make it a point to tell all your friends and family not to go there and even post the review on social media. This goes the same with candidates. Studies suggest that candidate who benefits out of such feedback tend to develop levels of favouritism towards the organization and spread a positive word of mouth about the employer and work culture.
Here are some tips for giving interview feedback to unsuccessful candidates.
Why give feedback?
It is bad etiquette to not inform the interviewee about the results irrespective of it being positive or negative. The action directly or indirectly will definitely affect the brand image. While the agenda is to quickly pass on the information on the interview results to candidates, an example of good feedback is to point out the improvement criteria in the candidate which were probable mistakes in the interview. Take the time to identify a few key points as to why you did not choose the particular candidate. It is advisable that, over patronizing, the truth, will do them good in the long run and also ensure that your company has a clean and transparent process in place.
1. Use your interview notes
If you have decided to give genuine feedback to the candidate, it is helpful to use the notes from the interview. You cannot rely on your memory power as you would have gone through many interviews and the ones that stuck would the one you chose as an employee.
To use your notes, you should ensure that you have a very structured interview style. Conversational and casual interview notes cannot be of much use. Even decisions regarding who to hire can be made better if the interviews are structured and the performance of candidates can be compared side by side with the notes. These notes will show you exactly where the candidate failed in impressing the panel, unlike the candidate that was chosen for the job.
2. Honesty is the best policy
As cringe-worthy as this is, always ensure that if you are giving feedback, it needs to be an honest one. However, there is a fine line you have to walk. Masking or sugarcoating of feedback to the candidate may carry a patronizing tone for the candidate and purely candid review might affect the candidate’s confidence the performance in the interview ahead. You need to provide constructive criticism, that can help candidates with self-analysis and understand their areas of improvement.
3. Brick to build
Do not be too vague with the criticism. Give them examples to the points you mention. Tell them what required skill set they need to work on. Do not just say that they lacked the eligibility criteria. Mention what exactly they needed to improve on. If the interview included a written test, let them know about the score and the parts they received fewer marks because it is not practical to tell them exactly what questions were written right and what was wrong.
Communicating the feedback in the right tone is also necessary. The need to upgrade or acquire a skillset can be mentioned over criticising the lack of possessing one. Feedback on the personal presentation skills needs to done using appropriate language and by pointing out mistakes done during the presentation for better understanding.
4. Stay balanced
No matter how well you draft the criticism, the candidate will end up feeling a little stripped of their confidence level. To avoid this, mix your feedback with both negative and positive comments. Try finding the answer to what stood out in them and what they could change. This answer should have both negative and positive elements.
5. Don’t Run with Comparisons
Comparisons between two people cannot be done unless you know their entire background and every other detail about their life. The idea to set a benchmark helps a person analyse themself, find the flaw and help them improve by self-criticizing. The idea to compare themself with another person due to an embedded thought of feedback leads to unhealthy competition and neglecting the need for excellence.
6. Say thank you
At the end of the day, you need to realize that as much as they needed the job, you also needed a fit talent for your company. It is not a one-way street to see the candidates as people who have come to serve the company. They are providing you with a service for which you are paying. Thank them for taking the chance.
Your reputation is very important to the success of your firm. There are many review sites out there which can destroy all you have made with just a few words. Hence, be polite and respect the fact that the candidates had to go through a lot of effort to perform in the interview. Always be thankful that they chose your company as a worthy workplace.