Interview Feedback and Evaluations: Templates, Examples and Tips

A productive hiring process thrives on conducting good job interviews and having documented interview feedback that’s easy to read and understand by team members who weren’t present for those interactions. Clarity, simplicity and an understanding of best practices all come together to increase the chances of success in finding the right hire for a position. They also minimize the chances of inadvertently passing by qualified candidates due to miscommunication within your existing team. Here, we’ll cover the most useful ways to create an interview evaluation and essential information you’ll need to go forward.

 

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Structure is the starting point for productive interview feedback

When you’re vetting candidates, you want to be able to compare them with each other on an “apples-to-apples” basis by seeing how they performed in response to the same questions, what they bring to the table when asked about their problem-solving skills or why they’re interested in your company. You will need a standard series of questions and a consistent format for evaluations.

 

This kind of structured interview can also provide you with opportunities to safeguard against unwitting biases in the hiring process. You can ensure your process is compliant with equal opportunity laws and regulations and lined up with your company’s ethical philosophy and overall vision. Plus, you’ll be able to evaluate candidates effectively.

 

Why it’s important to have documented evaluations

It makes a big difference in the hiring process when you document your interview evaluations shortly after the event, within a day and preferably within a few hours. It provides several key benefits:

 

  • Feedback is a major source of information for members of leadership and the hiring panel who weren’t able to be present at the interview.
  • The process lets evaluators check themselves and their real opinions about the candidate and revisit their thinking, helping make their recommendations more objective.
  • Written feedback can clarify decisions about a candidate.

The trick is having the kind of interview feedback structure that will make it easier to create high-quality documentation. It requires the same amount of effort your company will typically put into conducting its best interviews in the first place.

 

What to include in your interview feedback

If you’re using a structured interview with standardized questions, your evaluation should touch on how the candidate interacted with that structure. There are also a few bases that almost any feedback form or written documentation will need to cover.

 

Take a clear stance: To hire or not?

Decide whether the candidate is a clear “yes” for hiring — not a “soft yes” or a “maybe,” but a clear “should hire.” Include a concise summary of why you’re taking that stance, indicating the top four or five reasons you think they would be a fit.

 

For example: “Hire. [Candidate] showed a solid grasp of the cybersecurity risks a company of our size faces in our industry, was able to clearly communicate them and lay out their solutions, demonstrated an understanding of the human dimensions of IT work and was candid about mistakes made on past contracts and what they did to recover from them.”

 

You can include a similar binary “yes/no” question about the candidate’s experience level, with a clear and succinct summary of whether you think the experience cited on the client’s resume is directly relevant to the role they’re applying for and why.

 

Describe your experience with the candidate

You can use a sentence or short paragraph in plain first-person language to describe how you viewed your time with the candidate. Here, you can cover topics such as how direct their answers to questions were, how engaged they were, whether they seemed genuinely interested in the role and what the company does and whether they felt like someone you could work with regularly.

 

For example: “[Candidate] was affable, at ease and engaged. They got straight to the point in their answers to my questions but took time to expand on certain issues when asked. Their questions indicated a genuine curiosity about what we do and how the role fits into that. They presented as thoughtful and approachable throughout the interview.”

 

Include notes on each criterion for hiring

For each of the hiring criteria on your scoring sheet, include a bullet point note describing anything that stood out to you in the interview that’s relevant and supports your decision to hire.

 

Keep in mind dos and don’ts

 

Here are some dos and don’ts to help orient you:

Do:

  • Write conversationally, in your own voice (read it aloud)
  • Keep your formatting clear and readable by avoiding big blocks of text
  • Explain your thinking by providing examples from the interview

Don’t:

  • Get too wordy.
  • Lean on speculation and subjective judgments where you can avoid it
  • Make blanket statements without explaining them

There are, of course, some best practices for setting up your feedback forms so that all this advice flows from the structure you’re working with.

 

Best practices for interview feedback forms

When you’re setting up a feedback form, it should include two major elements: a consistent system for scoring the candidate on a standard set of criteria and space for writing out fuller thoughts and responses from the evaluators.

 

Use a scoring sheet

Your feedback form should include some kind of scoring sheet, preferably with a field for brief comments. It cuts down on the subjective element of rating candidate responses to each question and compels each evaluator to commit to a set score that can form a basis of comparison and prioritization for the hiring committee.

 

Expand on your responses

Your form should also include longer fields to explain your hiring recommendations and your experience with the candidate, as noted above. You can be transparent with the candidate that their interview will be evaluated in both ways.

 

Be inclusive

It’s important to note that no matter what criteria you use for the questions in your structured interview or the criteria on your scoring sheet, you must avoid any framing or feedback responses that are discriminatory based on age, sex, gender, race, religion, ethnicity or sexual orientation.

 

This is true whether or not you’re planning to share the feedback with the candidate, but it can be especially troublesome if, for example, an expectant mother applying to a position is shown feedback that ruled her out because her child care responsibilities kept her from being considered. This is the kind of issue that could lead to litigation without enough attention.

 

Constructive comments sample

The best interview feedback is easy-to-read and approachable.

 

Here is an example of a constructive comment:

“Showed strong command of Java and C++ languages and answered problem questions easily and completely. However, they struggled a bit longer with Python question, which is a must-have on the skills list.”

 

Likewise, when answering requests for feedback from candidates, the answers should never be vague and noncommittal. Instead, they should explain the evaluator’s professional reasoning.

 

Interview feedback template

The details for how to lay out your score sheet will be particular to the position you’re hiring for.Below is a general interview feedback template:

 

Candidate Name: [candidate]

Date: [date]

What is your overall hiring recommendation? (Yes/No)

Why? (Explain in short paragraph form)

Does the candidate have the needed experience? (Yes / No)

Why? (Explain in short paragraph form)

Use a short paragraph to describe your experience with the candidate and what stood out to you about them.

 

Scoring:

Rate the candidate on a scale of 1 – Poor to 5 – Excellent in the following areas. Provide short comments to explain your ratings wherever possible.

[Possible criteria to include are Presentation Skills, Relevant Skill Set, Professionalism, Motivation, Communication Skills, Flexibility (meaning the candidate’s ability to adapt to change and cope with the ambiguous) and Organizational Fit, as well as Overall Evaluation to provide a summary of why the evaluator thinks they can or cannot do the job.]

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