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How to Give Feedback the Right Way

"How to Give Feedback the Right Way" projecting from a megaphone

One of the most difficult steps of the hiring process can be providing feedback to candidates that are not hired. It is a conversation that can feel uncomfortable and intimidating to even the most seasoned hiring managers. It is no surprise, therefore, that a study by recruiter Gerry Crispin found that of 100 American companies renowned for their HR practices, 70% of them did not provide any feedback to unselected applicants.

What may come as a surprise is that 94% of applicants want to receive that feedback. The candidate experience has been well-documented as a critical piece of company branding. When you are able to provide it, feedback is a way to enhance that experience and ensure that even those you reject maintain a favorable view of your organization. Candidates that receive constructive feedback are four times more likely to consider your company for future job opportunities.

With that in mind, its important to give feedback in the correct way to capitalize on these benefits. The following tips can help you get more comfortable providing constructive advice to applicants.

Focus on the situation, not the person

Though you may not mean it as such, constructive criticism could be interpreted as a personal slight to the applicant hearing it. By phrasing the criticism as something related to the specific job or situation, it can help take the personal element out of it. For example, instead of telling a candidate that they are too indecisive in their career path, you might tell them this role needs someone who has shown a more sustained path of performance.

Provide specific, actionable suggestions for improvement

The goal of providing feedback is to help the candidate improve. To do this, they need to know what to work on. Using specific examples and giving actionable advice can help the feedback feel less like an attack and more like genuine help. Instead of saying an applicant needs better computer skills, tell them what specific skills or programs they would need to be successful at your company.

Correlate feedback to the job description

When possible, focus your feedback on the objective job requirements listed in the job description and not on any subjective evaluations you may have. This is often easier for candidates to understand and grow from and will likely lead to more successful feedback conversations. For example, explain to the candidate that they lack the public speaking skills necessary for the role instead of telling them you find them unprofessional.

Even with these tips, giving feedback can be tough. However, the reward far outweighs the discomfort. Candidates want actionable feedback and think more highly of companies that can provide it. With very few companies doing so, completing this essential step is an easy way for your organization to stand out when competing for top talent.

If you are still feeling stuck, contact us and let us help! We specialize in helping our clients build relationships with top talent throughout all stages of the hiring process.  

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