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May 28, 2018
This article is part of a series called Editor's Pick.

The lack of feedback given to candidates by today’s recruitment or sourcing professionals is quite appalling. I understand why a significant portion of the global population has an intense dislike for our profession. You can ask pretty much anyone, and they have a story to share about a cynical, disheartening and inefficient experience they have had with a recruiter. This is incredibly sad for our industry, but it does help me to fathom why we often get associated with unscrupulous estate agents and sleazy second-hand car salespeople.

I think too many recruiters have lost the ability to put themselves in their candidate’s shoes. They have forgotten the agony of waiting for feedback after an interview. Or they may not have ever experienced what it is like to go through a restructuring or a retrenchment process. Regardless of this, Recruiters need to come down from their ivory towers and be more empathetic, and sympathetic, to each candidate’s current situation.

Feedback is of the utmost importance for me, for the following reasons:

  • Building good relationships with key members of your niche recruiting community is vital in today’s recruitment landscape. If you are specializing in IT application recruitment, for example, you need to ensure that you get involved in this community and attend their events, so people associate you with being the ‘go to’ person for recruitment in this particular area of specialization. Offer your time to speak for free at community events and always be willing to give pro bono career, or even CV presentation advice, to these people.
  • If you are honest with your candidates and keep them updated throughout every step of the interview process, even if the end result is not a favourable one, they will have enjoyed their journey with you. These people will be more than willing to let you represent them again. This is very important as top talent is incredibly difficult to find and even if the candidate was not suitable for this particular role, they may be suitable for another role you may work on in the near future.
  • Similarly, if the candidates had a good experience with you the first time around, they will more than likely contact you in three years’ time when they are ready to change jobs again. I have been fortunate enough to experience this and it is much easier when top talent comes knocking on your door as opposed to having to go and headhunt these people.

When you give feedback to candidates, I recommend the following:

  • Avoid candidate comparisons: Try not to harp on about the fact that a stronger candidate, with better skills, was given the role ahead of this candidate. People only want to know where they fell short and what areas they need to develop to interview better the next time.
  • Give constant feedback: Do not wait until the final result to give feedback to candidates about the way they interview. You need to coach your candidates from the time they walk through your door. Was their handshake firm and did they make eye contact when they greeted you? Did they only give you monosyllabic answers? These are all points which must be addressed at the time so our candidates can interview better when they meet with our clients.
  • Be respectful: Recruiters need to respect people when they give them negative feedback. You almost need to imagine that you are not the first person to give this candidate negative feedback. Do not be too harsh and ALWAYS give them some tips on how they could potentially do better next time.
  • Listen to the candidate: An interview is a two-way street. Take the time to hear your candidate’s feedback on how they thought the interview went too. The interviewer is not always in the right, and I have had a few instances when the interviewer has been rude or was half an hour late for an interview. You cannot just dismiss these factors, and you need to give your candidates time to vent about their side of the interview story.
  • Be human: Do not forget that we are all just people at the end of the day. Add a personal touch to your feedback. Maybe share a story of when you or another candidate was unsuccessful in an interview, but this opened up a new door to an even better opportunity. Be confident and encouraging; it does go a long way!

I hope this has helped to emphasize the importance of feedback. Even if the feedback is negative, it can be delivered in such a way that the blow is softened and lessons can be learned for future interviews.

This article is part of a series called Editor's Pick.