How to give great feedback to interview candidates?

Published • By Neeraj Pal

We have all been at the receiving end of interviews, have we not? The ghosting, waiting, and follow-ups are part of the process but the most frustrating part is figuring out why they didn’t make it to a particular role.

Most candidates want feedback. But companies and recruiters are reluctant to share feedback. That leads to templatized rejection emails or worse, just blue ticks on WhatsApp. It makes the entire process transactional.

Here’s why you should make it an integral part of your interview process.

Candidates evolve, and one who is not a fit today might be a great fit later

If a candidate has proceeded to multiple conversations/assignments in the interview process – as a recruiter, you do have actual feedback on why they aren’t the right fit for your organization at that time. If you are able to help them understand what could be built/nurtured for the next time, what areas they could work on, you are enabling their growth.

Also, this helps build a relationship with your target audience. People evolve over time, upskill and grow. Even the jobs and the roles evolve with your company’s growth. Somebody who’s not a right fit today could be a great fit later. And it’ll be much easier to pick up that conversation from the last feedback than from an awkward ghosting vantage point.

Also read: How to build the initial team at your startup?

Creates great brand value

Even if there’s no potential of working together in the future, feedback is still a great way to bring long-term benefits to your company. The sheer act and process is hard and thus, makes you stand out.

Also, because a majority of companies and recruiters out there aren’t giving this feedback, it is a low hanging fruit. They aren’t doing it, because it is tough. Of course, telling somebody no and why the answer is no, is tough. It is painful. But it is equally annoying and disrespectful to be left in the dark.

Candidates will love you – they will refer you to their friends and will speak well about you in their network and yeah, potentially on Glassdoor.

The image of a company is at stake with every candidate that comes in to be interviewed. Candidate experience is responsible for cultivating a great brand impression.

Do it as good etiquette

Even if you don’t think you will ever hire them, or you don’t care about that one odd bad candidate experience – do it as a sign of respect. When somebody has spoken with you multiple times, done their best to showcase who they are and what they bring to the table – it is as necessary to give them feedback as it is for them to answer your questions and provide proof of work all along.

It might not have been a desirable outcome for both parties, but there’s no harm in being respectful of somebody’s time and effort.


You are probably thinking at this point that all of this is just a lot of uncomfortable conversations right? It is tough to say no, it is heartbreaking. You also might need to be prepared for some of the candidates becoming defensive and questioning why they were given such and such feedback.

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Read on to know how to give great interview feedback

  • Decide on what all you will give feedback on
    You can touch upon
    • Communication
    • Leadership quality
    • Articulation
    • Technical skills
    • Relevance of past experience with the current role
    • Attitude
    • Problem-solving
    • Strategic thinking
    • Assignment

It helps to have an interview assessment form that captures inputs along these lines from the interviewees.

  • Give useful, actionable feedback that’s timely
    Build processes that have a TAT on how soon you communicate feedback to the interviewee. Within 48 hours is a decent timeline.
    Keep the feedback brief and focused.

    Don’t – Your assignment wasn’t well written, and there were numerous inconsistencies in your references.
    Do – Your assignment had grammatical issues (has vs have, know vs knew). For the next time, run your text through a spell and grammar check on MS word or Google Docs.
  • Figure out where and how you should give this feedback
    It’s best to have a process with the where, when, and how pre-structured. The best place is probably an extension of the boilerplate rejection emails. Take your time to templatize that, and add a section on why they weren’t the right fit at that time. This section could be personalized for the information to be actionable and helpful. If you have resources that will help the candidates, direct them to it and they’ll thank you for it.

    Take a look at this interview feedback to candidates email template. You can choose to adapt the tone to your company culture and brand.

By Neeraj Pal

Marketing @Cutshort