Benefits and Weaknesses of Providing Applicant Feedback

You can only hire one person. You go through the recruitment process attracting hundreds of possible applicants. You call 50 or so for a phone interview. You call back anywhere from 2 to 10 for the job interview. You call a few more for the second interview, and then select 1 from the remaining talent pool.

In the end, hundreds of people end up getting rejected. Yet each and every one of those people could potentially be a contributor in the future for a different role (or at least may know someone that is). You don’t want those people to feel upset or disappointed that they didn’t get the job offer, nor do you want them telling others that you mistreated them in some way.

Applicant Follow Up

Companies hoping for positive employer branding should consider following up with at least every applicant that was interviewed, if not every person that applied. It shows each person that they matter, and it prevents them from waiting around for you to make a decision and possibly feeling discouraged in the process.

If you’re not already following up with your applicants, you could be creating some negativity about you as an employer, in a way that could affect your hiring in the future.

Following up is important. But how you follow up can vary. Some companies choose to provide each applicant with feedback about why they didn’t get the job. This strategy can have some advantages. But it also may have disadvantages. In the end, you’ll need to consider both the benefits and the risks before you decide whether giving feedback is right for you.

Benefits of Applicant Feedback

  • Giving Closure – One of the greatest benefits of this type of feedback is that it provides the individual with closure that many applicants crave. This is especially true of those that have gone through the interview process. Not getting the job, but not knowing why, can make it difficult to move on and feel comfortable about what happened. Feedback gives them information that makes it easy to understand.
  • Opens the Door for the Future – Once someone has received feedback, they can then take that information and decide what to do with it in the future. Some will move on to other jobs. But others, especially those that really want to work for your company, will take the feedback to heart and use it to get into your company in the future.
  • Shows Personalisation – Most forms of follow up are deeply impersonal. The willingness and ability to give the applicants useful feedback can be seen as you caring about their satisfaction, and showing them that they really were in consideration.

Weaknesses of Applicant Feedback

  • Unsolicited Could Be Offensive – The greatest risk to providing feedback is accidentally offending someone that did not want it. Providing appropriate feedback can be tricky, and it would be problematic if you accidentally offended someone that would have been happier simply not getting the job.
  • May Not Be Realistically Actionable – When you give someone feedback, you’re telling them what they need to improve. But the things they may need to improve either may not be possible, or may still not be enough to get them the job in the future. It is also problematic if you tell them what to change, and then after they change it you still do not want to hire them.
  • Could Be Received Multiple Times – Feedback is likely welcomed when the person has only applied once. But if they apply to work at your company more than once, then suddenly that feedback can be seen as multiple rejections. It can be disheartening for applicants to receive multiple reasons why they have been turned down for the job over and over again.
  • It’s Time Consuming – Giving real feedback can take time, especially if you have to edit the feedback and review it to ensure that it won’t hurt or offend the person receiving it. Not every company has that amount of time available to give each person detailed feedback.

How to Provide Feedback

Given these benefits and weaknesses, it’s difficult to know whether providing feedback is the best option. You may want to consider letting them know you’re willing to provide feedback without supplying it unsolicited, or you may want to limit the feedback to those that you may want at your company in the future.

Whatever you decide, it’s clear that giving applicants feedback can be beneficial. But you simply need to take the risks into consideration in the process.

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