Post-interview feedback is not compulsory; however, done right, it can be positive for the candidate and for your company, too. Branding and reputation are important for business, especially in a tight job market. Following up with unsuccessful candidates shows that your company values people and professional development. Also, who knows when or where you might come across that candidate you turned down, again? Perhaps, you’ll end up sitting behind them at a business conference or on the daily commute. Or maybe they’ll start working for a major client company.

Good post-interview candidate care makes smart business sense. But what is “done right” when it comes to following up with unsuccessful interviewees? Here’s how to give constructive feedback after an interview.

Time it Right

When a candidate has not made it through the interview stage, let them know as soon as possible. No-one likes to be kept in suspense when it comes to securing a job. If you communicate the news via email, mention that a member of the recruitment team “will contact you shortly by phone to provide feedback.” Make sure you schedule a mutually convenient time where you’ll be free from interruptions.

Review the Facts

Prior to providing feedback on the phone, review the job description for the role, the candidate’s initial application and any interview notes. You may find it helpful to jot down their strengths and areas for improvement, based on facts and observations made during the interview process.

Be Polite and Professional

Let’s be honest, giving feedback is not a task relished by many recruiters. The way you approach it can make a big difference, however, and will hopefully encourage unsuccessful interviewees to show politeness and professionalism to you in return.

Say Thank You

Many candidates put a lot of time and effort into submitting job applications, taking days off for interviews, and sometimes travelling significant distances. Starting with a simple acknowledgement of all they have done can help you both ease into the feedback session.

Go With Strengths

Feedback isn’t just about highlighting areas for improvement, but strengths. Focus on a few key elements that stood out during the candidate’s interview. Did they demonstrate excellent time management skills or strong teamwork capabilities? If you can provide an example of what they said/did at interview to show these skills, even better! You’ll gain credibility and your candidate will take on board any constructive criticism more readily.

Provide Actionable Feedback

When it comes to areas where candidates performed less well, provide them with actionable feedback, i.e. clear information on what they can do to improve their skills and experience. Positivity is the key to delivering this message well. Instead of telling a candidate “your answers lacked depth,” you could advise them “to expand your answers in future interviews and think of concrete examples to demonstrate your skills.” If a candidate is short on leadership experience, you might suggest they seek out opportunities to head up a team in their current role. Two or three carefully expressed points should be sufficient here; overload is overkill.

Ask For Feedback

This is a two-way conversation, after all. Candidates may want to run a few questions past you, comment on the application & interview process, or raise concerns. Respond where possible, within the limits of your expertise and company guidelines. There is no harm in someone else from the company addressing specific issues in a further conversation. Likewise, if your interviewee becomes angry or distressed, it may be sensible to suggest another call.

Wrap Up

If a candidate shows potential for a role at the company, ask if you can contact them about relevant opportunities in the future. End by wishing every unsuccessful candidate, whatever their performance, all the best in their job search.

Done right, feedback can give unsuccessful interviewees the information they need to improve their chances of acing an interview next time. And by being proactive about post-interview candidate care, you are building your reputation as a company where people matter.

At Optimal Recruitment, people matter to us, too. To discuss your hiring needs, contact our friendly team today on or 02 8416 4181.