How To Give Interview Feedback To Unsuccessful Candidates

Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 26 December 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

The interview process can be a stressful time for most candidates due to uncertainty and the pressure to do well. At such times, getting rejected after an interview can be disheartening for a candidate and affect their confidence, which can make them doubtful about continuing their job search. If you are a hiring manager, learning the importance of giving interview feedback to unsuccessful candidates can ensure that you handle such situations with care. In this article, we discuss some ways in which you can give interview feedback to unsuccessful candidates, look at some examples and understand the importance of feedback after unsuccessful interviews.

How To Give Interview Feedback To Unsuccessful Candidates

Here are some ways that can help you understand how to give interview feedback to unsuccessful candidates:

1. Provide feedback quickly

Sometimes interviewers may fail to provide feedback to the candidates weeks after they have appeared for the interview or have been rejected. Such instances can keep the candidate worrying about the outcome or may lead to feelings of failure. For this, it is important that you provide feedback to unsuccessful candidates as soon as you are aware of the final status of their candidature. If you are unable to connect with the interviewer on a call for providing feedback, you can also convey the message through an e-mail.

2. Express gratitude for their interest

Interviews can be a stressful process for candidates and it requires a lot of effort on their part to prepare for them. A candidate puts in a lot of energy and dedication while trying to understand an organisation's requirements, attaining the skills that can help them get the job and preparing for the job responsibilities. While giving feedback to candidates who have been rejected, it is important to express gratitude for their efforts and time. You can begin your feedback session by appreciating and acknowledging their interest.

3. Offer constructive feedback

While a candidate may appear for an interview, their qualifications, skills and profile may be better suited for other positions. In your feedback, you may want to inform them that their profile is unsuitable for the position in question. Negative feedback can affect a candidate's self-esteem and prevent them from applying for jobs in the future due to fear of rejection or poor performance. It is important to offer constructive feedback that they can utilise to improve their skills and qualifications. You can also tell them their strengths that you identify and highlight areas of improvement.

Related: How To Provide Constructive Criticism In The Workplace

4. Provide specific feedback

Several hiring managers give vague feedback such as "We went the other way." or "Our values and objectives do not match." Candidates can improve their performance in interviews only if they are able to identify the areas that require improvement. It is important to be as specific as possible and let them know the skills that can be improved. If you are looking for a specific qualification in a candidate, letting them know can encourage them to enrol for the course.

You can let them know if you selected another candidate and also state the reason for doing so. It can help them identify the skills that they can develop to get selected for other similar interviews. You can highlight their strengths and weaknesses and also help them identify actionable steps to improve them.

5. Appear genuine and sincere

When you give feedback to candidates who have been rejected, it is important that you appear sincere. Provide feedback to such candidates with the intention of helping them succeed in their job search. Instead of focusing on the factors that went wrong during the interview, you can elaborate on the steps they can take to progress in their job search.

6. Display compassion

Getting rejected from an interview can be a difficult situation for candidates and can affect their morale and self-esteem. Try to feel the candidate's emotions before you approach them as it can help you understand them better. While giving feedback to such candidates, it is important that you display compassion and attempt to motivate them to continue applying for jobs. As a senior professional, you can refer to your experience and explain how you may have handled rejections in the past or give similar examples.

7. Be honest

Even though a candidate may be very qualified, there may be other candidates who may be better suited for the job. Often, interviewers may avoid giving the actual reason for rejection to avoid negative reactions from candidates. While it is important to give constructive feedback and avoid negative feedback, it is important, to be honest. Your honest feedback can help candidates identify their weaknesses and make improvements which can help them in the long term.

8. Encourage them to do better

Getting rejected in interviews can affect a candidate's confidence and keep them from appearing for interviews in the future. As a hiring manager, it is important to encourage candidates to continue their job search even though they have been rejected. Highlight their strengths that you may have noticed during the interview process and describe how they can utilise their quality to succeed in other interviews. You can recommend them to other jobs that require their skillset.

Related: How To Develop An Employee Referral Program (With Tips)

9. Allow them to re-apply in the future

While giving feedback to unsuccessful candidates, it is a good idea to let them know that they can re-apply for a position in the company in the future. You can also let them know about other open positions in the company that suit their profile. It may also be a good idea to take their e-mail address so that you can send them relevant job opportunities from your company.

10. Respond promptly to follow-up questions

Sometimes, candidates may have follow-up questions after you have given them feedback. The questions can be about their profile, suggestions you have given or other openings in your company. Replying promptly to these questions can help such candidates clarify their doubts and build positive associations with your company. It can also motivate the candidate to apply for another position in the future. For this, it is important that you are easily accessible to the candidates. After you have given them feedback, you can share your official contact information with them and ask them to reach you with any follow-up questions.

Examples Of Feedback That You Can Give To Unsuccessful Candidates

Here are some examples that you can refer to for giving feedback to unsuccessful candidates after an interview:

For profile mismatch

"We appreciate your efforts in preparing for the job and your interest in our organisation. While you have excellent skills and qualifications, unfortunately, we are not unable to select your profile for this position as the challenges that you may face at this job require a different set of skills. There may be other positions at our company that can fit your profile better and help you deliver outstanding results. I can assure you that we will reach out to you when a suitable position opens up in our organisation."

For lack of skills

"While we appreciate your interest in this position, we are unable to offer you the job at the moment. We would be delighted to have a sincere candidate like you on our team in the future. I can advise you to upgrade your skills and qualifications and re-apply to our company in the near future for other suitable positions. I am sure it will help you develop all the skills that can help you perform well and face the challenges that the job may present."

For selecting a different candidate

"We acknowledge your efforts and truly appreciate your interest in our company. However, at the moment, we are unable to go forward with your profile for this job. After careful consideration, we have decided to go ahead with another profile as the candidate has worked with a company that is similar to ours for a substantial amount of time. I encourage you to continue with your job search as you have excellent skills that many organisations desire in their employees. You can also re-apply for this position in the future."

Related: A Complete Guide To Writing Interview Feedback

Why Is It Important To Give Feedback To Unsuccessful Candidates After An Interview?

Feedback after an unsuccessful interview helps candidates understand what they could have done better or identify how they can improve their skills and qualifications. Without feedback about an interview, a candidate may be left confused if they get rejected after a seemingly great interview. It is important to provide feedback to unsuccessful candidates to keep them motivated and encourage them to continue their job search.

From the company's perspective, giving feedback to candidates after getting rejected from interviews can also create a positive image of the company among potential candidates and clients. Sometimes, unsuccessful candidates may recommend other qualified professionals to a company if they had a positive experience irrespective of not being selected.

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