Nice Chap, Not For Us

March 2016
By: Steve Simmance

Feedback is something that always seems to polarise opinion: most crave and welcome the idea of good, well founded points and meaningful advice. Equally most aren’t so keen to hear about the less positive aspects of their performance.  However, I would urge all candidates that actually receive feedback – good or bad - to embrace what is provided, because actually getting some at all, is a rarity these days.

I would also urge all clients to ensure providing feedback to interviewees becomes a standard part of the recruitment process. It is all too easy to reject candidates and then not bother with the feedback.

Sadly, it is becoming normal practice for candidates to receive limited or no feedback from job interviews. In a recent report only 35% claimed to have received any after an interview, leaving 2 out of 3 candidates in the wilderness as to what improvements they could make. That may be the friendly bit of advice which could have helped them secure the next job they apply for.

Feedback is how we all learn in life. You try something, learn from it, and then either adapt or repeat. It really is that simple.

My role sits between client and candidate and I am expected to act as the broker/advisor between the two, and from experience I believe that both parties offering feedback to one another should be common practice. On numerous occasions I have seen the benefit this can bring to both parties, helping develop candidates for the better and also the client developing interviewing techniques that help sell their employer brand and the role. Surprisingly though, some clients don’t consider feedback necessary on their interview performance.

Recruiters should encourage the two way practice.  

Like it or not, we live in a Feedback culture - be it a restaurant visit, holiday destination and hotel, telephone or online ordering system - all come chasing to hear how they did and can improve. Because businesses know that constructive criticism and praise ultimately help all parties. And so it should also be considered that providing feedback after a job interview is an essential part of the process. It costs nothing but time and professional courtesy.

Why do people struggle with the giving and receiving of honest, detailed, considered feedback? After all isn’t the whole process about passing judgement and making assessments, rejecting or passing people, based on your opinion, to/or not to the next stage. What’s happened to the copious notes we all write during an interview, surely the perfect basis for feedback? As a Recruiter it is difficult to reply to a candidate who asks ‘how did I get on?’ that ‘the client said no but couldn’t articulate their rationale for the decision’.

Feedback is a two way process and it’s all about delivery. Put yourself in the shoes of the interviewee and imagine how you would feel having put effort and research into your interview preparation to then get a nonchalant response, or no response at all? Similarly, there is no excuse for complacent candidates who ‘rock up’ to an interview without being prepared. Don’t expect constructive feedback if you have the wrong attitude towards your interview. Professional conduct by both parties is paramount and the message is that we need to smarten up.

Professional HR teams are trained to evaluate interview performance (I hope) and recruiters have an ethical obligation to communicate honestly with both candidate and client. Detailed Feedback is exactly what it should be - detailed. Without it, it’s pointless. A simple throw-away line “Nice Chap, not for us”, or generic “We’re looking for a tad more experience” response really does not cut it. However, anecdotal, verbatim and decent examples of observed behaviour do for sure. Be disciplined, constructive without being too personal; write plenty of notes, and feedback promptly whilst it is fresh in your mind. Similarly encourage your recruiter to seek feedback from the candidates as to how they felt the interview went. That way we all learn something!


Follow a few of these tips to help provide some assistance:
1. Provide Feedback within 24 Hours whilst it’s fresh in your mind.

2. Don’t make the Feedback up. False advice is poorer than no advice.

3. Provide some structure - 3 High, 3 Low Points and 3 improvements. Keep it concise but enough to allow learning

4. Recognise each other’s effort and praise where applicable.

5. Openly receive feedback as to how the interview went. Respect differing viewpoint and opinion; recruitment is not an exact science, no one always gets it right.

6. Provide reinforcement feedback - tips and hints that can make the interview experience better. Make the candidate feel like you are on their side, even if they are not right for you or your organisation.

7. Candidates, if your interview has been an enjoyable experience tell the interviewer, you might even get the call back if there was slight doubt because of your politesse.

8. Try looking for the good stuff - positive discrimination. You can still reject a candidate or opportunity but recognise the positives.

9. If someone else is providing feedback on your behalf be sure there is no misinterpretation of the facts. Check that the feedback is accurate and relevant.

10. Feedback is the breakfast of champions – give and receive willingly!

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