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How to give effective interview feedback: tips and best practices

Last updated

28 June 2023

Author

Dovetail Editorial Team

Reviewed by

Lara Leganger

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The interactions that occur during an interview can provide important details about the company and candidate. Both parties can benefit from the information provided when an interviewer documents and shares feedback about the process.

You can improve your company’s hiring procedure and give value to candidates who applied for the job by learning to give effective and meaningful feedback.

What is interview feedback?

Interview feedback is a record of a job interview from the interviewer’s perspective. You can use it internally to help with hiring decisions and offer it to job candidates you didn’t hire.

Most often, interview feedback is a refined version of notes taken during the interview. You can format it to answer specific questions, summarize skills, or give an overview of the entire meeting.

Why is interview feedback important?

Different groups of people can use feedback from a job interview in various ways. Below are some of the ways interview feedback can streamline organizational processes and improve your employer brand.

It helps teams make good hiring decisions

Whether your organization uses a single one-on-one interview or a multi-stage interview process, sharing the details among team members helps everyone decide who is the best candidate for the job.

Written feedback gives the interviewer a chance to reflect and provides a clear picture of how the candidate performed in different proficiencies. Team members can collaborate on the feedback from one or more interviews to compare candidates.

It provides answers for job candidates

People have different views on whether companies owe candidates an explanation when they don’t make the cut. The feedback process takes time and isn’t always appreciated. Yet, over half of employees believe hiring companies should provide candidates with feedback.

The Greenhouse Candidate Experience Report, a survey of 1,500 candidates, revealed that the majority of candidates are dissatisfied with the recruitment process.

  • More than 75% of job seekers have been ghosted after an interview

  • Over 70% of job seekers say they want feedback on an interview

  • More than 60% of job candidates say that receiving feedback during the interview process, even if they didn’t receive a job offer, would make them more inclined to apply again at that company

Why do candidates’ opinions matter? Well, opinions can be shared between friends, family members, and colleagues, potentially diminishing your employer brand.

Research shows that 86% of workers will not apply for, or continue to work for, a company with a bad reputation among former employees or the general public. Furthermore, the applicants you were considering could end up applying for other positions in the future. How you treat applicants reflects how your company interacts with the public.

It can be used to measure and improve the success of the hiring process

Recruitment is a necessary but expensive process. An inefficient method can extend the process and result in a poor fit. Feedback from company decision-makers can help improve interviews and the procedure for choosing the optimal candidate.

How to document interview feedback

Interview feedback has many uses, but limited or unstructured information can be difficult to use effectively. By planning ahead and taking specific steps, you can clearly document an interview’s results.

Follow these steps to provide accurate and helpful interview feedback:

Take notes during the interview

Notes should summarize the candidate’s answers and other details from the interview. It might involve using scoring sheets and question templates. You can revisit your notes and add more details as necessary after a period of time.

Consider using a template if the candidate will complete multiple interviews

Using a template will help interviewers capture feedback in a structured way that works toward an aligned objective. In addition to participant names and interview dates and times, your template should include a question list, a record of questions asked by the candidate, and notes about the tests or tasks performed.

Reassess your notes and make additions if necessary

A waiting period of a few hours or more will give you some time to distance yourself from the interaction and consider the experience. Revisit your notes and add to them to reflect any new thoughts and ideas.

Compare the candidate’s qualifications with the job description 

A good job description should highlight the role’s required qualifications and soft skills. Compare these requirements to the qualifications shared by the applicant and skills you recognized during the interview process. Add notes about your perception of the candidate’s skills with supporting facts you can discuss with colleagues.

Compile your notes into a uniform document 

You might deliver this document to company leaders or discuss it in a meeting. Include essential information, like your assessment of the candidate, an overview of their strengths and weaknesses, and whether you think they could fulfill the role.

What’s the best way to deliver interview feedback?

How you deliver interview feedback will depend heavily on your role as an interviewer and the person receiving the information. Feedback for an internal hiring team is presented differently than for a candidate.

Internal feedback

As a recruiter, you can expect to provide written feedback in a document that’s clear enough to stand on its own. It should be a structured document that the employer agrees on before the interview.

On the other hand, your notes might be delivered in a more relaxed format if you’re a member of an internal hiring team and expect to share information during a meeting.

In any case, your feedback should cover all the points of the interview. Any opinions should be accompanied by supporting comments. For example, if you note that a candidate is nervous, add notes about the actions that support this observation. When suggesting a candidate isn’t qualified for the role, note the specific reasons why. For example, you might write, “lacks experience in required software”).

Feedback for candidates

You would typically communicate with candidates via email shortly after you select an applicant for the role. You would have ideally asked the applicant whether or not they want to receive feedback during the interview process, so the communication won’t be a surprise.

Start the email by explaining that you’ve chosen another candidate. Next, summarize your thoughts about how the candidate performed during the interview. Maintain a positive tone and provide detailed, constructive feedback for the candidate to use in future interviews.

Always be sure to thank candidates for their time and interest in your organization.

Examples of interview feedback

Interview feedback requires concise language accompanied by supporting facts. Whether you’re talking to a hiring manager or a candidate who didn’t land the role, the reasons behind your decisions are important. The following examples reflect positive and negative feedback for both candidates and internal teams.

Negative feedback

  • This candidate has extensive work experience and many of the required qualifications. However, all past positions lasted less than a year. We will need to fully understand the candidate’s career goals if we choose to move forward with them.

  • The candidate has a positive attitude and is familiar with the company. However, they lack experience using XX software, one of the critical requirements for this role. As a result, they are not a good candidate at this time.

  • To candidate: While we value your time applying for this role, you haven’t displayed the required skill set listed in the job description. Your demonstration of XX skills is likely to make you an optimal candidate for XX role, and we urge you to apply if you see a vacancy.

Positive feedback

  • The candidate is enthusiastic, well-rounded, and familiar with our company. They show proficiency in the IT categories required and are excited about upcoming projects. I think they will be a good fit for this position.

  • To candidate: We’re delighted to tell you we think you’re a perfect fit for this position. We appreciated your enthusiasm for the industry and your ability to display knowledge across key areas.

How to help your hiring team share interview feedback efficiently

Your organization’s long-term approach to using interview feedback hinges on the information you share and how you share it. Scattered comments shared via several channels won’t have the same impact as a structured plan designed for effective hiring strategies.

The tips below can help you develop processes for documenting and sharing interview feedback.

Provide a single source of information

Choose a shared communication platform that will allow your team to keep all comments in one place. Exchanging emails, texts, and documents can result in miscommunication and lost information. You can easily access relevant information when using an agreed-upon platform as a single source of truth.

Use varied question lists with interview scorecards

Often, companies use a multi-interview process that screens candidates on many levels. To ensure interviews don’t become redundant, develop specific questionnaires. Each interviewer should ask different questions to cover new criteria at each stage of the interview process. Hiring teams can easily identify and assess qualifications when these interviews are paired with interview scorecards.

Consider templates to standardize skill evaluations

Evaluating candidates based on opinions can lead to unconscious bias and poor hiring decisions.

Avoid vague communications by creating a standard set of skills for interviewers to assess. Required skills can be paired with a rating system to ensure all team members follow the same evaluation process.

Build in flexibility

A rating scale can provide a standardized formula, but it’s often too rigid to stand alone. Include a comments section where interviewers can share additional opinions and supporting evidence. You can also include a text field to provide any relevant information without cluttering the process.

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