8 Tips for Giving Interview Feedback to Unsuccessful Candidates

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published September 2, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

The interview process can be a high-stakes time for candidates and hiring managers alike, as both parties are typically eager to move forward. Not all candidates who interview are successful, though, and it's important for hiring managers to offer constructive feedback to unsuccessful candidates about their performance. Through this feedback, unsuccessful candidates can focus on optimizing their interview approach and honing the skills they need to succeed.

In this article, we outline why it's important for hiring managers to give interview feedback to unsuccessful candidates and offer eight tips for doing so effectively.

Related: A Guide To Giving Constructive Feedback

Why is it important to give feedback to unsuccessful candidates?

It's important to provide feedback to unsuccessful candidates who interviewed for a role so they can improve their strategy, develop their skills and find more success in future interviews. Constructive, actionable feedback can make a significant difference regarding a candidate's self-awareness and ability to grow over time. Even more, providing interviewees with this type of growth opportunity is typically a respectful way to end their candidacy process.

In addition, feedback can boost an organization's reputation and allow candidates—even those who are unsuccessful—to develop a positive association with the organization. This can help organizations differentiate themselves from those that don't offer feedback, as it's common for organizations to receive higher ratings regarding their candidacy experience when they do. From here, an organization may be able to attract more talent during future searches.

Related: How To Write Interview Feedback: Do's and Don'ts

8 tips on how to give interview feedback to unsuccessful candidates

Giving feedback to unsuccessful candidates can be a challenging task for hiring managers. There are a few key tenets to remember when doing so to ensure that candidates value and appreciate your feedback. Using these tenets as a guide, here are eight tips to consider when giving feedback:

1. Be genuine and practical

When offering feedback to unsuccessful candidates, do so with the intention of helping them grow and progress in their job search. Try to offer sincerity in your feedback by complimenting their performance and offering a practical reason for moving forward with a different candidate—such as their skill set or level of experience. Often, candidates will appreciate your kind words and take your feedback into account as they apply elsewhere.

Related: 10 Examples of Constructive Feedback

2. Show gratitude for their interest

To get to the interview round of the application process, candidates typically must exert a significant amount of effort. They often dedicate energy to showing their interest in an organization, proving their qualifications and gaining a better understanding of an organization's culture. Therefore, showing gratitude for the unsuccessful candidate's time and interest is a respectful way to begin a conversation when providing feedback.

3. Offer personal feedback

To make sure your feedback is worthwhile and valuable to an unsuccessful candidate, personalize it and demonstrate that your organization gave them proper consideration during the interview process. For candidates who make it to the interview round, it can be challenging to receive a standard rejection with no personal details. With this in mind, try to describe specific factors that you appreciated about a candidate's interview and offer particular ways they can improve going forward. This level of personalization can help offer unsuccessful candidates a more positive experience than otherwise.

4. Remain compassionate

As you approach giving feedback to an unsuccessful candidate, try to imagine what they're feeling regarding their application, rejection and ongoing job search. Doing so can allow you to gain perspective and identify how a candidate might want to be treated at this stage in the process. From here, keep this perspective at the forefront and offer compassion to the candidate—you can mention both strengths and areas of improvement, use a friendly, professional tone and end positively with an invitation to stay in contact about future opportunities.

Related: 13 Ways To Give Better Feedback

5. Use honesty

Being honest can help candidates gain more from your feedback in the long term. It's common for hiring managers to avoid telling the truth in order to end candidates' experiences more positively, but this doesn't always offer candidates the opportunity to grow. While it's important to be gentle while offering constructive feedback, try to provide candidates with the real reason you didn't move forward with their application. With this information, they may become more self-aware and take the initiative to improve their interview presence in the future.

6. Provide examples as a justification

When offering feedback, try to provide specific examples from the candidate's interview to back up your claims. For instance, if you choose not to move forward with a candidate due to a gap in their skills that became evident through a skills test, explain how their skills test results were unsuccessful and they may need to work on building certain competencies. These examples can help justify your decision for candidates and allow them to identify ways to improve their strategy in the future.

7. Provide your feedback in a timely manner

As mentioned above, candidates who make it to the interview stage are typically eager to find out how they did and whether their application is moving forward. Therefore, out of respect for the candidate and their time, make sure to provide your feedback to them in a timely manner. This can help them move forward more quickly in their own job search process and recognize your commitment to a positive candidacy process.

Related: How To Write a Candidate Rejection Email

8. Respond to follow-up questions

If you provide feedback and a candidate replies to you with follow-up questions, be sure to take the time to respond to their queries with thorough consideration. Doing so can help you maintain professionalism and allow candidates to clarify or gain specifics from your feedback that might allow them to improve. From here, candidates may be more likely to reapply to your organization and develop a positive association with it.

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