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Interview feedback is a problematic concept. There are pros and cons, and aspects with which to be careful.

Often interviewees ask for feedback and it is courteous to provide some. Some organisations embed interview feedback in their culture. As an HR professional, I eschew interview feedback for a number of reasons:

  • Feedback is sometimes no more than an opinion.
  • Interviewers might bring their own “baggage”.
  • Selection decisions are often marginal, sometimes merely intuitive, and hence hard to articulate.
  • There is an implied obligation to justify the rejection of a candidate.
  • It is easy to inadvertently reveal unconscious bias and, if that can be related to one of the 9 protected characteristics you could face a discrimination claim. Here is a frightening example.
  • Rather than helping a candidate, poor feedback can be very damaging to an individual.

Nonetheless whether it is for courtesy, organisational culture or the felt need to justify a decision there are occasions when you will decide to give feedback. Here are some thoughts:

  • Start by asking the candidate how they thought it went. Some will venture points you would bring up yourself. That makes it easier.
  • Perceptive questioning, by you, can often further help a candidate’s understanding of where they might improve or why you made the decision.
  • Put forward objective evidence rather than provide subjective views.
  • Well designed selection processes help objectivity and hence good feedback.
  • If it is “attitude”, then focus on behaviour rather than personality. It is what they “do”, not what they “are”. For example, better to say “you questioned things we said” as opposed to “we found you argumentative”. The difference is subtle but one addresses behaviour (which they can choose to change), the other attacks their personality.
  • If you sense a candidate has taken enough feedback then stop!

Good interview feedback is a gift to the interviewee. But, like all gifts, it is optional.