Importance of Candidate Feedback from Hiring Managers

Giving Constructive Feedback.

Giving feedback in recruitment is hard. It’s time consuming, requires thought and can be especially tough if a candidate has been unsuccessful. Many people, including myself, find it difficult to do this. You don’t want to offend the person, hurt their feelings or knock their confidence. Sometimes it’s just tricky to articulate ‘why’ you don’t want to progress an applicant.

Delivering criticism positively and effectively becomes even more difficult when in a face to face setting. Many candidates will ask during an interview how they did, or whether you have any concerns about them. This can sometimes have you on the backfoot not knowing what to say. And it can be easier to say ‘no concerns’, and then later feedback to them, or their recruiter all the negatives. This never goes down well with candidates! But there are ways to minimise a negative impact.

  •     Start with a positive. List their strengths. Tell them what you liked - ‘You maintained excellent eye contact in this interview, something that many candidates find difficult’, or ‘I really enjoyed the example you gave of working under pressure’ etc. Whatever you choose, make it as specific to them as possible.
  •     Ask them how they feel it went. Invite them to contribute to the conversation. I can’t think of a single candidate who has responded to this question with ‘I was amazing. Nothing to improve on’. This approach allows you to deliver constructive feedback in a setting where they are ready and willing to listen.
  •     It’s always worth acknowledging with candidates that nobody is perfect, we all have areas to improve on.
  •     Remember your FABs. Feature, Advantage, Benefit. What is their goal? When delivering constructive feedback, make it specific to that goal. This shows you care, and allows them to positively process anything negative, because they know it’s coming from a good place. For example, you have interviewed a candidate and the responses to your questions are short and abrupt. This has made it difficult to assess their skillset and suitability for the role (Feature). Next time, if they are able to elaborate on each example, use more detail, they will get a better response from their interviewers (Advantage), making it easier to secure employment (Benefit).
  •     Be direct. Let’s not sugar coat this. Giving negative feedback isn’t nice for anyone. Even if it is delivered constructively, kindly and fairly.

The most important thing is to deliver feedback. Even positive feedback should be delivered constructively and specifically. ‘You were great!’ is not as meaningful and impactful as ‘You really demonstrated how you build rapport with clients in the examples you gave. I particularly like how you approach new business’ etc. Detail shows you are listening and you care. This reflects well on you, and on your business.

I still struggle with giving constructive feedback and I don’t get it right every time. It is a work in progress.

If you’d like to discuss any of the points raised or would like to share your experiences, please get in touch with one of the ZBusiness Ltd. Team.

Nadia Zachary. Director of ZBusiness. Opinions expressed are solely my own.