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Giving great feedback to unsuccessful candidates

Not everyone who applies for a job will be successful. You can support candidates by giving great, constructive feedback.

When it comes to feedback, it’s safe to say that not many people love giving or receiving it. As an employer, it can be a challenge to give unsuccessful candidates feedback in a way that’s constructive and positive, while also getting the point across. There’s no one way of giving feedback, however making this as positive an experience for everyone is important.

Giving feedback isn’t just about being nice, it’s about your company’s reputation as well. Candidates who receive feedback are 52% more likely to re-engage with an employer. On the other hand, not providing feedback at all leaves candidates more than twice as likely to have a negative image of your company. Showing that you care about a candidate’s future success quickly builds trust and positive company image.

Before diving straight into the feedback side of things, it’s important to think about timeframes. While there are a number of time pressures when it comes to hiring, it’s always a good idea to let someone know upfront and as soon as possible whether or not they have got the role. It’s also important to think about who you are providing feedback to, and make sure you’re being as fair and equal as possible. We have put a few tips together to help you out.


Make feedback honest and authentic

It’s important to recognise and respect the effort that each candidate puts into their applications, by being honest and authentic. Constructive feedback can build confidence in candidates, even when they’re unsuccessful in the role.

Take the time to explain to candidates why their applications wasn’t successful, and go through the requirements of the role to discuss where a candidate did and didn’t meet the criteria.


Point out the positives

Providing positive feedback is important to maintaining great relationships, and helping candidates absorb feedback that’s more constructive.

Maybe someone was confident and engaging in their interview, were great at story-telling or have achieved something impressive. They might have a unique skill, or in-depth knowledge of a particular subject. Focusing positively on someone’s skills and experiences can help them identify key transferable skills to focus on in future, and increase their job opportunities.

Give tips about how to improve next time

If you are telling a candidate that they were unsuccessful, then the likelihood is that they’re going to have to go through this process again when they apply for another job. Providing thoughtful and constructive tips about how they can improve their future opportunities can be a really valuable experience for the candidate.

They may have been unsuccessful because they didn’t demonstrate the desired skills for the role, so let them know where there are areas for improvement. If you have suggestions about how or where they can upskill, this can also be a great thing to let them know. A candidate could be a great fit for the organisation but not necessarily the role itself. If this is the case, you could offer to keep their resume on file or ask if you can get in touch should another job come up.

When paired with positive feedback, giving a candidate something constructive to take from their experience can really help to grow their personal and professional confidence, as well as trust in your organisation’s hiring practices.

Answer follow-up questions

Lastly, sometimes the feedback you give may raise more questions for the unsuccessful candidate. If you have the capacity, take the time to answer these questions. If you don’t have the capacity or their questions are not on the positive side, have a list of resources that you can direct them to. This may be something like the Field, where they can find other job opportunities and informative articles, or maybe it may be a mentoring program where someone can help them work on their resume and applications.


Ready to interview some candidates? Post your job on the Field now!
You can also check out some of our great blogs:

  1. Inclusive Employer profiles: the why and how
  2. Learn about disability from people with disability
  3. 5 tips for a more disability inclusive workplace
  4. 5 ways to get the accessibility conversation started
  5. Why inclusive language is important


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