Importance of Interview Feedback

Interview feedback – contrasting perspectives

We have a guest blog post to share with you. Our good contact here at Vanilla, Adrian Berwick, (freelance commercial HR consultant who runs AB Commercial HR Solutions) shares his thoughts on the importance of giving constructive interview feedback to your rejected candidates:


The vast majority of people who attend a job interview will say that they received little or no feedback about how they performed.

In a recent survey, 83% of candidates did not receive any feedback other than a rejection and whilst this is disappointing, it is clear that there are 2 opposing points of view that need to be considered.


The candidate’s point of view

The likelihood is that the candidate invested time and effort in the application process, maybe completing an online application form, took time off from their current role and spent time and money out of their own pocket travelling to an interview (assuming the employer did not reimburse travel expenses).

The candidate probably also spent time researching the company, preparing for the interview – perhaps asked to do a presentation. After all this, they may be lucky enough to get a “we won’t be processing your application any further” or “sorry”.

The candidate will argue that after the time that went into the process, they would like some feedback because it will enable them to understand where their experience or competence fell short and what lessons they can learn. It will also enable them to judge how they benchmark in an open market – they may have acknowledged that the role may have been a step too far, too soon but they will want feedback to enable them to better understand their strengths and short-term development needs. Feedback would enable them to focus on gaining more experience in key areas.

Constructive feedback should enable the candidate to appraise their interview performance and how they were perceived in terms of experience, gravitas, body language, attitude, appearance (be careful), communication skills, fit with the business, depth of understanding and technical knowledge.

There is also an argument to say that the higher the level of the role and further through the process you go, the greater the expectation for feedback.


The employer’s point of view

Whilst it is recognised that applicants do not have an automatic right to feedback, it is seen as good practice. From an employer’s perspective, there are often 3 main issues:

  1. Time and resource – it can be very time consuming to give feedback after every interview and it can place a substantial burden on HR and its resources
  2. Threat of litigation – a generally more litigious culture makes employers more “risk averse” and less willing to offer feedback. The expansion of diversity awareness, discrimination, fear of the written word and freedom of information and disclosure requests all contribute. Employers are understandably cautious about providing in-depth feedback and will prefer to say little or nothing rather than get into a dispute. Where companies are giving feedback, the likelihood is that they have been advised to keep it brief and to avoid expressing personal feelings or comments on personal aspects of the candidate
  3. Working through a 3rd party – the candidate could have been introduced to the employer by a recruitment consultant like Vanilla. The agency should push the employer for feedback for them to pass back to the candidate. Vanilla Recruitment always aim to get constructive feedback for all rejected candidates, but not all 3rd party agencies will do this


Putting the arguments for both parties to one side, it is important that feedback is given when an employee is already employed within the business and is applying to an internal advert because it is common decency and can also be an excellent opportunity to manage and re-align expectations. Again, if a candidate applies internally for a role whilst going through a redundancy consultation process feedback should be given, especially if they have been overlooked for an external candidate. It will also assist their future job search.

Finally, giving feedback is a skill and never easy and is rarely more challenging than when the person that you are feeding back doesn’t accept or understand what you’re saying. It is always worth doing though.


AB Commercial HR Solutions offers HR support to business and can offer either advice or an informal “sounding board” – [email protected]