Interview Feedback Do’s and Don’ts (with interview feedback examples)

Understanding how to give interview feedback is a key part of fostering growth and development, both for candidates and organisations.

In terms of recruitment, feedback can shape careers and improve hiring processes, leading to a better candidate experience.

Regardless of the outcome – whether candidates are successful or not, receiving interview feedback is very valuable and can often provide insights on where they improve. When interviewees understand their strengths as well as their areas for development, they know which areas to focus on moving forward.

There may also be further job openings in the future, so nurturing candidates, even those you don’t extend a job offer to, is wise.

In this blog, we’re delving into the vital “do’s” and “don’ts” of offering interview feedback, alongside interview feedback examples that enable employers to give constructive and impactful feedback delivery.

The Importance of Giving Interview Feedback

You might think spending time giving interview feedback to unsuccessful candidates is not a good use of time. After all, they’ve not secured the job, so what’s the benefit to your company?

Telling candidates how they can improve is highly useful as it affects the overall candidate experience. In turn, this affects your employer brand as candidates will remember those companies who took the time to tell them why they weren’t successful and those that didn’t.

They will look more favourably on those that made the effort, as this lets them know how they can refine their skills and experience.

An enhanced candidate experience results in:

  • An enriched pool of candidates who have already been assessed, still hold an interest in joining your organisation (and are likely to perform better in future interviews).
  • Candidates who are less likely to speak negatively about your company.
  • Candidates who’ll share their positive experience and recommend you as an employer.

To ensure a favourable candidate experience, it’s essential to understand a few do’s and don’ts when it comes to giving interview feedback.

This means that the feedback you provide needs to be genuinely valuable, allowing candidates to value your effort in explaining the rationale behind not extending a job offer to them.

Let’s start with the do’s of interview feedback.

young girl sat in interview

The Do’s of Giving Interview Feedback

Knowing how to give feedback to candidates is important as this helps set them up for success in the future.

By following the steps below, you can ensure that your feedback is fair but honest, leaving a positive impression on candidates.

Don’t lie about your reasoning

While it might be tempting to provide a candidate with an easier explanation or gloss over the reasons for not extending a job offer, this is not a good move.

Be honest about the reasons that influenced the decision. Whether it’s a skills gap, cultural fit, or other factors, communicating truthfully allows candidates to understand their strengths and their areas for growth.

Honesty also contributes to your organisation’s reputation and integrity, even if the feedback might be difficult to hear.

By sharing the genuine reasons, candidates can use the feedback constructively, working on relevant aspects for their professional development.

Be constructive

Focus on actionable insights that guide candidates toward improving their skills and performance.

Highlight their strengths and accomplishments during the interview, pointing out specific instances where they excelled. Equally important is addressing areas for development. Rather than just highlighting shortcomings, provide clear suggestions on how they can improve.

For example, if the candidate struggled with articulating their problem-solving skills, give them some advice on structuring their responses to show their abilities more effectively. By being constructive, you show candidates that your feedback is not just about evaluation but also about helping their professional advancement.

Interview feedback example:

“Hi [candidate name]

Your communication and enthusiasm were evident throughout the interview, creating a positive impression. However, there were a few moments when your answers could have been more concise.

For example, when asked about your experience in project management, your response was a little vague. To improve, focus on the key challenges you faced, your approach to solving them, and the measurable outcomes achieved, as this would have provided a clearer and more impactful answer.”

Be timely

Providing timely feedback shows candidates that you respect their time and effort.

There’s no worse feeling than waiting to hear back after an interview as it leaves you guessing and it can be very stressful.

Timely feedback ensures that the details of the interview experience are still fresh in the candidate’s mind, allowing them to better understand your evaluation. In turn, this also allows them to make adjustments to their interview technique and job search approach.

Moreover, this shows your organisation’s efficiency and professionalism, establishing a positive candidate experience from the start.

If possible, try and provide interview feedback within a few days to a week after the interview has taken place. However, the exact duration can vary based on the organisation’s practices and the complexity of the interview process.

Stay objective

Focus solely on observable behaviours, skills, and responses displayed during the interview.

By refraining from personal opinions or biases, you ensure that your feedback remains credible. This not only upholds the integrity of the interview selection process, but also helps candidates perceive your feedback as valuable and constructive.

This approach also fosters a sense of fairness, as candidates recognise that their evaluation is based on concrete criteria rather than subjective judgment.

Offer clarity

Explain how their skills, experiences, and responses aligned with the role’s requirements and where there might have been gaps.

For instance, if the role demanded strong project management skills and the candidate’s responses showcased their ability to lead cross-functional teams effectively, acknowledge this alignment.

On the other hand, if the candidate lacked certain technical competencies vital to the role, clarify that these gaps impacted their overall fit.

Providing solid examples from the interview helps candidates understand the areas they excelled in and the ones that need improvement. This clarity not only guides candidates in their professional growth but also shows your commitment to transparency.

Highlight their strengths

Providing praise and acknowledging a candidate’s strengths is a crucial aspect of delivering effective interview feedback. Here are some ways to incorporate praise into your interview feedback:

  • Acknowledge achievements: If the candidate showcased notable accomplishments or skills that align with the role, commend them for their achievements. This encourages them to continue building on their successes.
  • Positive attitude: If the candidate demonstrated a positive attitude, enthusiasm, or strong communication skills, praise them for their professionalism and interpersonal qualities.
  • Cultural fit: If the candidate’s values, work ethic, or attitude align with your company’s culture, commend them for their potential to be a positive addition to the team.
  • Appreciate preparation: If the candidate has clearly researched your company, role, and industry, acknowledge their efforts to come prepared. This demonstrates their commitment and genuine interest.

Balanced feedback that includes both areas for growth and praise creates a more constructive conversation, fostering a more positive candidate experience.

Interview feedback example:

“Hi [candidate name]

I wanted to express my appreciation for your time and participation in the recent interview for the [Position Name] role at [Company Name]. Your interview highlighted several notable strengths that align well with our requirements.

Your clear and articulate communication style stood out, allowing you to effectively convey complex concepts. Your ability to succinctly explain your experience in [relevant skill] showcased your expertise.

Also your passion for [specific aspect] and your insights into [relevant topic] demonstrated a genuine connection to our company’s values and objectives.”


girl sat with her head in her hands

The Don’ts of Giving Interview Feedback

As well as understanding the ‘dos’ of giving interview feedback, it’s important to be aware of the ‘don’ts too.

This ensures that the feedback you’re giving is honest, fair, and tailored to each interviewee.

Be vague

Providing candidates with ambiguous or overly general comments can leave them without a clear understanding of their performance.

In turn, this can lead to confusion and frustration for candidates as they don’t know where they’ve gone wrong, ultimately hindering their growth and improvement.

Instead, offer specific examples and concrete observations to help them understand their strengths and areas that require improvement. Constructive feedback is most valuable when it offers actionable insights that candidates can work on.

Interview feedback example:

“Hi [candidate name]

I wanted to provide you with detailed feedback regarding your recent interview for the [Position Name] at [Company Name].

Overall, your performance demonstrated several strengths, but there are specific areas where refining your approach could make a notable difference.

Your communication skills are solid, but there were a few instances where your answers could have been more focused. For instance, when discussing your experience as a Property Manager, providing quantifiable outcomes and highlighting your role in overcoming challenges would provide a clearer picture of your impact..

Moreover, in the teamwork-related question, your example lacked specificity. Sharing a detailed situation, your role, the challenges faced, and the collaborative measures you undertook would offer a more compelling illustration of your teamwork skills.

By focusing on these specific areas and providing more detailed examples, you can showcase your abilities even more effectively in future interviews.”

Delay giving feedback

As we’ve mentioned, no one likes to wait for feedback after an interview as candidates will be keen to find out if they were successful.

It’s important to give feedback as quickly as possible, whilst the interview experience is still fresh in their mind. This allows candidates to accurately recall their performance and the context of the interview, enabling them to better understand the areas they excelled in and those that need improvement.

Delaying feedback, on the other hand, can lead to frustration and uncertainty, causing candidates to question their performance and the organisation’s investment in their development.

Focus on all of the negatives

Overemphasising the negatives can create a demoralising and disheartening experience for candidates, potentially damaging their confidence to continue pursuing opportunities within the field.

A balanced feedback approach that recognises accomplishments alongside areas needing improvement is crucial for maintaining the candidate’s motivation and enthusiasm.

Furthermore, a feedback approach that highlights both strengths and areas for growth provides a more accurate evaluation of the candidate. It enables interviewers to assess how well a candidate aligns with the role and organisation overall, taking into consideration their potential contributions alongside the areas where they might need further development.

Interview feedback example:

“Hi [candidate name]

Your clear examples and communication impressed us, as did your enthusiasm and insights about our mission.

To improve, focus on concise technical explanations and highlight your leadership experiences and cross-functional collaborations.

Your interview showed strengths and potential. Keep building on them while working on the points mentioned.”

Don’t compare

Each candidate brings a unique set of skills, experiences, and qualities to the table, making direct comparisons unfair.

Comparisons can also introduce bias and result in overlooking individual strengths that may not align with the quantities being compared. Evaluating candidates individually based on their own merits ensures that they are assessed against the requirements of the role and the organisation’s needs, rather than against one another.

This further allows you to provide tailored feedback that addresses specific strengths and areas needing improvement, promoting a growth-focused and equitable interview experience.

Interview Feedback Do’s and Don’ts (with interview feedback examples)

Understanding interview feedback do’s and don’ts is essential for employers, as the way you deliver feedback has a direct impact on the candidate experience.

Regardless of whether or not you offer an individual the job, you want them to have a positive impression of your company as you never know what the future will hold. Moreover, by taking the time to deliver meaningful feedback, you’re increasing the likelihood of candidates recommending you as an employer to others.

While crafting interview feedback can be time-consuming, it’s a worthwhile process as it allows you to not only nurture candidates, but also contribute to their professional growth.

At Macdonald & Company, our global partnerships have enabled us to assist clients in identifying and securing the best talent. Providing interview feedback is just one part of the recruitment process, but by working with us, we can manage it entirely on your behalf.

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