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Protecting your employer brand with interview feedback

Interview feedback

Everyone wants it. You know you should give it. But you don’t.

What impact does interview feedback have on your reputation as an employer? Do you care? Should you care? The short answer here is yes, you should care. In fact, I feel that the interview feedback process can be a key moment in the recruitment process.

Giving feedback after an interview may be your last point of contact with a person, and you want to leave them with a positive lasting impression, one that will benefit you and your company in the long run. It’s an important component of managing your overall brand and identity.

It's an ‘emotional’ touch point in which a psychological imprint is made about your company

I also believe it's an ‘emotional’ touch point in which a psychological imprint is made about your company as a brand, product, service or potential employer. Don’t you want this to be as positive an impression as possible?

I also like to think about it from an applicant’s standpoint. Committing to a change in career is an emotional rollercoaster. For many, it's been a long time since they looked for a new role or attended an interview. There have been exciting and nervous moments at every step. 

When a person has finally gotten to the point where they have taken precious time out of their day to meet with your company, they are hoping and even expecting it to be a positive experience.
So what happens if you don’t provide these excited, eager applicants with interview feedback? 
If unsuccessful, they will get a generic call advising them that they were ‘not successful’ in their attempt to get the job, or even worse, no word at all.
And this can actually lead them to build a resentment towards your company as both an employer AND an overall business.
Now replicate this hundreds or even thousands of times. Imagine all those applicants spreading the word that your company is not worth bothering with.

Even a handful of candidates telling others something like, ‘I went for an interview there once. It was terrible; I didn’t get any feedback,’ could affect your ability to secure talent, particularly when engaging niche candidates or in tight geographical locations. 

More than one-third of your candidates who have had a negative experience will publicly share it, 40% of them will go out of their way to dissuade others from applying to your company and a quarter will never, ever apply to your organisation again. What part of this is hard to understand?

So why don’t more companies avert this potential disaster and offer interview feedback to candidates? What is the real issue? Why do organisations large and small deliver poor levels of candidate feedback?

It’s not that hard. Or is it?

Hiring managers
One thing that comes up time and time again when talking with recruitment teams: hiring managers and their ability to provide their thoughts and feedback following an interview. 
Some are excellent. Others down right terrible at giving a crumb of useful, constructive insight into the reasons why a candidate is rejected. 
At a time when employer brand and candidate experience is a competitive advantage, educating hiring managers about proper interview feedback should be high on the agenda.

Without stakeholder support, resourcing has one hand tied behind its back, leaving them to offer a limp smile, an apology and poor responses to the candidates.

I have worked with organisations that continue to have ‘no feedback’ policies. Conversely there have been others who provide excellent detail, offering candidates value.

It is vitally important for your business and your brand that you move away from the ‘no feedback’ model and start to incorporate policies and systems that allow you to offer your candidates the best feedback possible to provide them with a positive experience that increases their image of your company, not hurts it.

Not sure how to start implementing a feedback strategy?
A great way to start educating your business, is by capturing hard data.
This can be done by gathering insights into what candidates think about your recruitment process— particularly their thoughts and feelings post- feedback.

This data offers true understanding of the positive or negative impacts that may be shaping your external reputation.

Creating insights will highlight where your process needs improving, who might be impacting it, and where to focus your efforts. 

Measuring and monitoring candidate experience is an essential tool to any resourcing department. Especially those with an aspiration to delivering a best in class talent acquisition strategy.

Of course, time is a huge factor. Depending on whether you’re recruiting at volume level or for a specialist position, you’ll have to determine how much time you have to dedicate to training and implementation of this process.

But ensuring stakeholders understand the wider recruitment process is an important step in this process, and having relevant data helps quantify how they can directly impact candidate experience and improve it in the future.

Buzz session training
Has your resourcing team received any kind of training on delivering feedback, either good or bad?
How many shy away from giving bad news to the candidate in person, preferring to push it down the to-do list?
This might seem like a comfortable strategy at the time, but it only extends the candidate’s process even further and creates more resentment and ill will towards the process they endured.

This subject wouldn’t need a whole day’s worth of training. A simple buzz session to establish how to deliver the outcome of an interview would suffice. To get started, share examples of positive candidate experiences. Talk about what made them positive and how you could replicate those experiences in the future.

You can also share experiences where people have responded negatively to feedback and discuss how the issue could have been resolved positively in the future. 

Discuss how you want the team to handle the situation, and provide a structure for delivering feedback that helps ensure candidates finish your process feeling appreciative (although disappointed), leaving your company’s reputation in-tact.
Your perspective
How do you deliver best-in-class interview feedback to your company’s candidates? Have you ever experienced a situation where feedback was poorly delivered and poorly received?

How did it impact the perceptions of your business in the wider community? I'd love to hear about it.

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