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How to give constructive feedback to unsuccessful candidates

Allen Associates, News & Blog

Handling rejection is never easy, but it’s something that we all experience at some point during our careers. Even the most experienced hiring managers can probably remember what it feels like when the shoe is on the other foot, which can make rejecting Candidates an unpleasant task. Despite this, it’s also very important to get right – 83 per cent of people say a negative interview experience can change their mind about a company they once liked.  To end on a positive note with a candidate who hasn’t been successful, follow our five simple steps:

1. Call  Candidates  

Taking time to respond to applications is key. It’s thought that 75 per cent of Candidates never hear back from Employers, which can be frustrating for people who experience this multiple times. At the early stage of the process, when you have a large volume of applications, an e-mail is often easiest. However, when you get to the interview phase, the personal touch goes a long way. Picking up the phone to speak to someone can help soften the blow of a rejection, and nine times out of 10, applicants will appreciate the fact that you have called to speak to them directly – giving them the chance to ask further questions and go through feedback on a one-to-one basis.   

2. Offer feedback  

Once a Candidate has received a job rejection, their mind will turn to interview feedback. This is their opportunity to learn from the experience, in order to improve on their performance. Start the conversation with the positives, listing their strong points and any ideas you enjoyed before going into the reasons why they weren’t your final choice. All feedback should be honest, so that it’s useful to the individual, but try to keep this factual. Mention the fact that they need more experience, or how they could improve on interview tasks, rather than personal attributes or characteristics. Above all, make sure you emphasise how well they’ve done to get this far in a highly competitive process.   

3. Don’t keep them waiting  

A swift hiring process is essential if you are to secure your top Candidate. In fact, 46 per cent of workers will lose interest in a role and pursue other openings if they’re kept waiting too long. To give you an indicator, in the same survey, 29 per cent of people said waiting between seven to 14 days after an interview to hear back is too long. The greater the delay, the more difficult it can be to speak to applicants about a rejection. A prompt decision will not only be beneficial for you, it will reflect well on your business – indicating your ability to operate quickly and efficiently. To do this, make sure you have the agreement of everyone in the team as to who you’re looking for, as well as a strict hiring schedule.   

4. Encourage strong  Candidates to stay in touch  

Although you can only offer the position to one person, you may have several applicants who you’d like to hear from again in the future. As your business grows, you will need to fill more roles. An applicant who hasn’t made the grade this time will, likely, go on to improve their skills and experience elsewhere, so to build your talent pipeline, encourage Candidates who have impressed to stay in touch. Ask them to connect with you on social media or apply again when a new position comes up. Of course, you should be honest. There’s no point telling someone to keep in contact when you have no intention of doing so. If you offer this, make sure that you’re genuinely willing to do so.   

5. Ask for feedback on your process   

The interview process isn’t a one-way street. Asking for feedback from applicants is a great way to show that you care about the Candidate experience and have a real desire to further improve. You may think you know what people will say, but you could be surprised. Whether positive or negative, it’s always important to know what people truly believe. Now more than ever, we live in a review-based world. According to LinkedIn, nearly 60 per cent of job seekers have had a poor Candidate experience, and 72 per cent have shared this online. Giving people the chance to comment will help you to iron out any creases in your hiring strategy, as well to allow people a safe place to give their opinion.   

Over the last 20 years, we have grown as a business to become one of the leading independent Recruitment agencies in Oxfordshire, and in 2018 have opened our first London office, to service Clients in the capital.  

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