With the number of jobs exploding in recent years, protracted interview rounds are quickly becoming the norm for both employers and employees. It’s not uncommon for a single position to require 10–15 interviews from different candidates.
And, once the process is complete, it’s vitally important to provide feedback that will help the candidate improve for their next interview.
But providing great feedback can be tricky — especially in cases where the interviewer wasn’t particularly impressed with the candidate. You have to be mindful of the delicate emotions that often come with job-hunting, while still delivering feedback that is honest and helpful.
In this article, we’ll explore some tips for providing fantastic interview feedback — every time. You’ll learn how to be sensitive to the candidate’s feelings, the right way to give constructive criticism, and the 3 best techniques to help make your feedback actionable.
Let’s get started!
The importance of providing feedback
The first step in providing fantastic interview feedback is understanding why it’s so important in the first place.
Simply put, good interview feedback helps candidates improve their interviewing skills. And, as we all know, the better your interviewing skills are, the more likely they are to land the job they want. Put simply, it’s an altruistic way to improve workforce management across your industry — and it can also reap dividends for you later on (when they come back, new & improved!)
But interview feedback isn’t just about improving the candidate’s skills. It’s also about helping them understand what they did well, and where they could improve. This not only helps them in their current job search, but it also sets them up for success in future interviews.
Finally, good interview feedback can also help build trust between the interviewer and the candidate. By providing honest, constructive feedback, you show the candidate that you’re interested in their development — and that you value their time and effort.
Giving feedback that is sensitive to the candidate’s feelings
One of the most important things to remember when giving interview feedback is that the candidate’s feelings are often at stake. After all, job-hunting can be a very emotional experience, and it’s easy for candidates to feel discouraged after a bad interview.
As an interviewer, it’s important to be sensitive to the candidate’s feelings. You should avoid being critical or negative, and instead focus on delivering feedback that is honest, helpful, and positive.
Here are a few tips for giving sensitive feedback:
– Keep your feedback positive. Even if the candidate didn’t do well in the interview, focus on the things they did well, and avoid being negative.
– Use “I” statements. For example, “I didn’t feel like you were a good fit for this role.” rather than “You’re not a good fit for this role.”
– Avoid using absolutes. For example, “You’re terrible at interviewing.” Instead, try “You could improve your interviewing skills by ____.”
– Avoid giving the candidate false hope. If you’re not interested in the candidate, be honest and tell them directly. Don’t lead them on with vague feedback or promises of future opportunities.
The right way to give constructive criticism
Once you’ve delivered sensitive feedback, it’s time to move on to the constructive criticism. This is where you help the candidate understand what they did wrong, and how they can improve for their next interview.
When giving constructive criticism, it’s important to be clear, specific, and objective. Here are a few tips:
– Be clear about what you didn’t like. For example, “This answer made it seem like you weren’t interested in the position.” rather than “You didn’t answer the question well.”
– Be specific about what the candidate could do differently. For example, “You could improve your interviewing skills by ____.” rather than “You need to work on your interviewing skills.”
– Be objective. For example, “Your answer was incorrect.” rather than “You’re wrong.” or “I didn’t like your answer.”
– Avoid comparing the candidate to other candidates. For example, “You’re not as good as Sarah.”
– Avoid being overtly personal. As an example, “You didn’t dress nicely for the interview.” (note that there are exceptions to this rule, such as when the candidate’s dress code is explicitly mentioned in the job listing)
The 3 best techniques for making your feedback actionable
So, you understand the importance of providing good interview feedback — but what’s the best way to do it?
There are three techniques that work particularly well when making your feedback actionable: giving examples, using a rating scale, and using a developmental framework. Each can help improve interviewee performance on later rounds of interviews, and are crucial in developing a strong organizational culture. Let’s take a closer look at each one.
1. Giving examples
One of the best ways to make your feedback actionable is to give specific examples of what the candidate did well, and where they could improve. This helps the candidate understand your feedback, and it makes it easier for them to apply your suggestions to their next interview.
For example, if you’re giving feedback on the candidate’s communication skills, you might say:
“It was great to see that you were able to articulate your ideas clearly and effectively. However, I think you could work on slowing down a bit — it can be difficult to follow you when you speak too quickly.”
By giving specific examples, you’re helping the candidate understand what they need to work on, and you’re giving them a concrete goal to focus on in their next interview.
2. Using a rating scale
Another great way to make your feedback actionable is to use a rating scale. This approach is particularly useful when you need to give a numerical rating to the candidate’s performance.
For example, you might use a rating scale like this:
1 — Poor — The candidate did not meet our expectations in this area.
2 — Needs Improvement — The candidate could improve in this area with some additional training.
3 — Satisfactory — The candidate met our expectations in this area.
4 — Good — The candidate exceeded our expectations in this area.
5 — Excellent — The candidate completely exceeded our expectations in this area.
By using a rating scale, you’re able to give the candidate a numerical rating for their performance, which makes it easier for them to track their progress.
3. Using a developmental framework
Finally, another great way to make your feedback actionable is to use a developmental framework. This approach helps the candidate understand how they can improve their skills over time.
There are a number of different developmental frameworks to choose from, but the most common one is the Constructive Developmental Model (CDM).
The Constructive Developmental Model guides candidates through a sequence of three developmental stages:
1. Unconscious Incompetence — The candidate does not know what they don’t know.
2. Conscious Incompetence — The candidate knows what they don’t know, and they’re working to improve.
3. Conscious Competence — The candidate has mastered the skill,
By using a developmental framework, you’re able to help the candidate understand where they are in their development, and you’re giving them a roadmap for how they can improve their skills.
An example role-play
To illustrate how to provide fantastic feedback, let’s imagine that you’re the interviewer for a position at a new company. You’ve just finished interviewing Sarah, and you’re not sure how it went.
Here are some tips for providing feedback that will help Sarah improve for her next interview:
1. Start by thanking the candidate for their time.
Even if the interview didn’t go well, it’s important to start off by expressing your gratitude to the candidate. Thanking them for their time shows that you respect their efforts, even if things didn’t work out in the end.
2. Empathize with the candidate’s feelings.
Start by emphasizing that you appreciate their efforts, even if things didn’t work out. It’s important to be sensitive to the candidate’s feelings, and it’s often best to avoid using negative language.
3. Offer specific feedback about the interview.
Be as specific as possible when describing what went well and what didn’t go well in the interview. This will help the candidate understand where they need to improve.
4. Offer suggestions for improvement.
If you have any specific suggestions for how the candidate can improve their interview skills, offer them up! This will help the candidate focus on what they need to do to improve for their next interview.
5. Putting it all together
Here’s an example of how you might provide feedback to a candidate after a job interview:
“Thank you for coming in today, Sarah. I appreciate the time you took to come in for this interview.”
“I thought the interview went well overall, but there were a few areas where we could use some improvement. First, I thought your responses to some of the questions were a bit vague. Specifically, when I asked you about your experience with XYZ, you didn’t give me a lot of detail.”
“Second, I thought your body language could use some work. You were sitting a little too stiffly in your chair, and you didn’t make much eye contact with me. Interviewers usually interpret that as a sign of insecurity or lack of confidence.”
“Finally, I think it would be helpful for you to do some more research on our company. You didn’t seem to know as much about us as we were hoping for, and it showed in your answers about why you were excited to work here.”
“Overall, I thought you did a good job, and with a few tweaks, you’ll be ready for your next interview. I hope you didn’t mind that I shared some of these suggestions with you — I want you to do your best in your next interview, and I think these are some good areas to focus on.”