Give feedback to rejected candidates. Most companies don’t

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Telling candidates they didn’t get the job they’ve worked so hard to get is a thankless job. So it’s understandable why hiring managers don’t send post-interview feedback to rejected candidates. It’s not as rewarding as say, calling a successful candidate over the phone and telling them how they aced the interview and can start at their earliest convenience.

But holding back feedback from unsuccessful candidates will send the wrong signals. It is harmful the candidate and your company, even more so with executive recruitment.

Think back to the time you tried applying to a company. Imagine the hard work and grueling preparation for the interviews and tests. And to do all that with no feedback in whatever form or shade?


In the hypothetical case that involves you as the candidate, it would have helped your continued search if you got feedback from the company on how you performed and where to improve.

The idea of giving feedback is not simply for the candidate’s morale, however.

As the saying goes: “hurt people hurt people.”

It’s likely that a candidate who did not receive any feedback from your company will be inclined to speak ill of it, affecting your employer brand negatively.

A Twitter rage about your company framing you as an unresponsive and unprofessional employer could effectively repel top candidate from your brand.

Plus, a fair percentage of your rejected candidates will be near-misses; dropped because another candidate marginally bettered them. To have a positive interaction with these near-misses is to populate a robust pipeline of talent you can reach out to hire in the future.

Where you have soured that relationship from the beginning, it will be harder to restart those conversations.

Rather than risk creating a firestorm of criticism for your company, provide honest feedback to candidates that will turn them into your ambassadors.

How to give post-interview feedback

Get on the phone. This is the first and most important guide to giving helpful feedback. A generic email or text message won’t cut it.

Most employers don’t give feedback because they suspect they only have negative commentaries to dispense. They are only partly right. There are highlights from the interviews and specific skills that the HR can point to. That is usually a good place to start the feedback conversation.

When you get on the phone to speak with them, start with these constructive insights about their skills, knowledge and slowly work your way into letting them what they need to improve.

Also, be specific in your feedback. Rather than saying “You were brilliant,” say “We liked how you analyzed our strategy document for 2017 and pointed out those leakages.”

Overall, treat the candidate with respect. This involves being genuine and appreciative.


The recommendation above is intensive and will consume valuable man hours. That is why I will recommend you only go in this direction for candidates that came second, third or fourth place. For other rejected candidates you may not be able to call, send, at least, a gently worded and concise feedback that will help them retain goodwill for your company.

The African Talent Company works with top African brands to source and recruit executive talent. Call or send us an email;

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