Hiring managers sit through a lot of interviews. For every good interview, there are the bad ones—the awkward ones, the cultural mismatches, and so on. At the end, only one candidate remains standing. Everyone else is thanked for their time and told they weren’t selected.
Rejection raises questions for a candidate: Why were they rejected? What did they do wrong? Could they have done something differently? Candidates, understandably, want feedback on their interview performance. But should hiring managers dole out that advice?
THE CASE FOR GIVING ADVICE
While many companies will opt not to give unsuccessful job candidates feedback, there is a case for doing so. First and foremost may be that your hiring team actually liked the candidate or thought they had some impressive skills, but their interview was less than stellar. Giving them some constructive feedback could help the candidate in their next interview—which might just be for another position at your company. Job seekers also appreciate feedback, since it allows them to prepare themselves for the next interview. If they’re never given any feedback on what they’re doing “wrong,” they can become incredibly frustrated with the job search. After all, doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results is the definition of insanity. Giving advice may be especially useful for internal candidates who are likely to apply for subsequent positions.
In some sectors, such as the civil service, employers may be required to give unsuccessful candidates feedback. Most employers, however, aren’t legally obligated.
THE CASE AGAINST GIVING ADVICE
Giving advice to unsuccessful candidates has its advantages; candidates often appreciate getting more concrete feedback, and it can help prepare them for the next interview, whether it’s with you or another company.
The list of reasons not to give advice is a lengthier one. First, many companies and hiring managers opt not to give feedback because they simply don’t have time. You may be interviewing 10 or more candidates for a position, which means you need to write 9 feedback reports for unsuccessful candidates. Then there’s the issue of “leading on” candidates: Giving feedback sends a mixed message to candidates. It suggests that if they argue with you, or interview with you again and do just a couple of things differently, you’ll hire them. Of course, that can lead to more frustration and upset when you do interview a previously unsuccessful candidate—and reject them again! Feedback isn’t meant to be a tip-sheet on how to get hired, although some candidates may take it that way.
A third reason—and arguably the most important one—is that advice can easily be misconstrued. If a job seeker believes they have been discriminated against, they could use your feedback as evidence that demonstrates discriminatory hiring practices at your firm. That could result in a lawsuit—a situation no employer wants to face.
TO GIVE OR NOT TO GIVE
Whether or not hiring managers should give advice to unsuccessful job candidates remains an open question. On the one hand, job seekers often appreciate the time and effort it takes for a hiring manager to give them some feedback—and it’s more satisfying to hear about what you can work on than to receive a note that there was another candidate who had more experience. On the other hand, it can cause headaches for a company as unsuccessful candidates reapply with the expectation of being hired. And giving out advice can place an unfair burden on hiring managers, who then spend time doling out information to people who don’t even work for them.
All in all then, advice for unsuccessful job candidates must be given with discretion when the hiring manager or company deems it appropriate.