How Important is Candidate Feedback?

How Important is Candidate Feedback? 

One of our clients recently got in touch to ask for a candidate’s address with whom had been interviewed and had made it through to the final two. On this occasion the candidate was unsuccessful and was pipped to the post at the last round, however, our client wanted to send a gift to thank the candidate for his time. 

Needless to say, this is an extremely thoughtful and unusual gesture. Whilst we are not envisaging many employers go to such heights, the strong message presented here, in terms of integrity towards the candidate, (who during the process has often invested several hours of their time) – cannot be ignored.  

The interview process is tough, and candidates often feel deflated when their time and effort does not lead to a job offer and it can result in feeling like a wasted experience. However, one area that can be improved upon is offering feedback post interview. The absence of this is one of the biggest gripes that we see with our candidates and without this it is difficult for candidates to recalibrate, refine their skills and present themselves in a better light for future opportunities.  

Why do employers fail to give feedback? 

Some employers do not quite understand the value of offering feedback to unsuccessful candidates or further still are apprehensive about the task. Some key reasons for this are as follows: 

  • Not wanting to upset a candidate with feedback 
  • It is often deemed an ineffective/unproductive use of time 
  • There is an awkwardness around explaining why candidates are unsuitable for the role 
  • A lack of structure around feedback delivery 

What many employers are missing is that offering post interview feedback pays off hugely in the long term. It is not only beneficial to candidates but can improve hiring managers and businesses overall reputation. 

Let us talk some more about reputation. According to recent research by Deloitte, 80% of disappointed candidates will share their experience – which has serious consequences for a company’s brand. Some years back, Virgin Media shared how their negative hiring process resulted in them losing a huge amount of revenue. Examining the behavior of the rejected candidates, it was calculated that out of 123,000 unsuccessful candidates, six percent of them cancelled their monthly cable subscription within three months of the interview, meaning that the total value lost over a year was approximately £4.4million. Though considering that candidates were undoubtedly sharing their negative experience with friends and family (also Virgin Media customers) the impact of this was undoubtedly much greater. 

Following this stark realisation, Virgin put every effort into transforming their whole hiring process and trained its entire staff on the benefits of providing a high standard of service to not only their customers but also their job candidates too.  

The example of Virgin may seem an extreme one, however it demonstrates just how important it is that the hiring process is handled positively by an organisation. Companies need to work hard to ensure their brand is displayed in the best possible light any time, especially now considering the industry is experiencing a big talent shortage following the Covid-19 crisis. 

Some suggestions and advice:  

Asking for feedback 

As well as offering feedback to candidates, a feedback form could be given to candidates to offer their own feedback to the company and their handling of the interview process. This would help employers gain valuable knowledge of how the candidate perceived the interview process. It is important for companies to have confidence they are delivering the best possible candidate experience and that their reputation as a well-respected employer and brand remains fully intact. 

Valuable advice 

Providing constructive feedback demonstrates that you value the time and effort candidates put into your organisation. While the candidate may not have received a job offer, feedback that they can use as they move forward in their career is the next-best thing. If the candidate did something in error, advise them accordingly. If they need more experience for this role, offer some suggestions on how they might be able to gain it and perhaps apply for a role in the future.  

Growing your talent pool 

The candidate may not be right for the role at this current time but taking the time to offer constructive feedback to candidates could mean they may well be more suitable in the future. Non-generic suggestions and advice on how to become better qualified or gain more experience as well as strengths and weaknesses would all help. This could result in the company having a talent pool of pre-qualified candidates, who still want to work for you and will be better prepared for the opportunity in the future. 

Praise when you can 

People can see through false praise pretty easily and in reality, it does not help anyone. However, there are always aspects of an interview that a candidate has carried out well, especially if making it through to the final interview stages. Let them know, not only to soften the blow but more to advise them so they can continue doing so. 

 Norrie Johnston Recruitment are specialists in global executive search and interim management.  When you commence a search for an interim or permanent hire with NJR, you will have the benefit of working with some of the most experienced and successful executive level recruiters in the UK, who also have real world corporate experience. This is combined with a track record of rapid fulfilment, high fill success rates and a performance weighted pricing model. You can learn more about NJR’s Permanent Executive Search capability by calling Rex Cridland, NJR Managing Director on +44(0)7714 252116 or email him on