When you interview, only one person gets the job and everyone else is left asking “why not me?” Employers don’t have to give feedback, but any candidate who requests it deserves an answer.  They have generally shown that they are keen to find work, want to improve their job-search skills, and often really want to work for your company.

So employers who get a request for feedback not only help the candidate but also could help them develop into a potential employee, who will have an additional reason to work well for your company in future.

To be useful, feedback must be constructive, not critical.  Where you need to mention something that didn’t go too well, the “sandwich” is one method which makes it easier.  Start by complimenting them on a strong point then refer, clearly and concisely, to the problem area and possible improvements. For example, if they rambled on when answering questions about how to deal with specific issues, you could suggest a reliable way to answer.  The STAR format (situation-task-action-result) works well as it helps the candidate to focus and answer concisely.  Finish up with another compliment about a part of the interview where they made a particularly good impression.  You can also add why someone else was chosen this time.

There are plenty of blogs and websites with different structures for giving feedback, such as this one which suggests:  Thanks for attending (we all know how much effort it takes) –> Strengths (specific) –> Areas for Improvement (again, be specific, and target obvious issues) –> Advice/Next Steps (including how to use the feedback for a better chance of getting the next job they apply for).

However you give your feedback, there are things to be avoided.  Most of all, don’t mention anything the candidate can’t change, and don’t give your opinion.  We all react differently to rejection and there is no need to make it worse by letting them think there is something wrong with their appearance or personality. Positive suggestions work best: “It might be a good idea to try…” rather than “You weren’t the right type of person.”

As an employer, you know what the requirements were for the job.  A candidate, who is likely to continue looking for similar work, needs to know where they fit and where they didn’t, so they can work on this for their next interview.  If you give good, helpful feedback, that candidate will be grateful when they get the next job they apply for.  It might even be in your company.