Giving negative feedback after an interview can be a positive thing with these examples
Giving negative interview feedback is one of the most essential parts of the hiring process, but so many recruiters and employers neglect it. And that’s easily done: finally finding your ideal applicant is so exciting!
So you rush to send out a job offer and rejoice when they accept it. Then you prepare their onboarding and before you know it, you’ve taken on a new team member.
But emails from those unsuccessful candidates are piling up. The follow-ups turn from polite to outraged, and you’re being asked to purge their contact information from all of your systems before you can explain what happened.
We know that you understand the value of feedback and have the best intentions, so we’re going to help you give some great negative but constructive feedback before the complaints come in.
We’ve all hunted for jobs before, so we know how crushing it can be to get a rejection email from a job you really wanted. I can remember all of my post-interview rejections – or at least the feelings of listening to the call or reading the email.
These feelings have become associated with those companies, so much so that I doubt I’d apply to work for them again. This is because all of the feedback I’ve received has been poor.
It’s been a copy and paste job, generic and insulting to read after spending hours on applications and interviews.
Now that I’ve seen behind the veil, I know that people do this with the best intentions and with limited time on their hands. I’ve also been part of great hiring processes where all interviewers took detailed notes and collaborated to write feedback for candidates.
So I know it’s possible!
Here are some basic tips to get you started:
- Take detailed notes during the interview
- A phone call is much more personal than an email and will go down better
- Don’t forget to be specific with your compliments and critiques
- A rejection without empathy won’t feel genuine
Now let’s get onto some negative interview feedback examples.
1 – Poor performance
Whether it was nerves, miscommunication or shoddy etiquette, poor performance in interviews is incredibly common, especially for junior roles.
It’s always disappointing when a candidate that looks great on paper doesn’t answer your questions in the right way or worse, gives you one-word answers. Even though you might feel dejected after the interview, try to keep a positive outlook when giving feedback.
Performance issues can always be fixed so take some time to come up with some advice that you think could help.
It was great meeting you yesterday but unfortunately we’re moving forward with other candidates. Your experience and education seemed like a great match for us however I do feel like nerves might have gotten the best of you.
I used to struggle with nerves before every interview so I thought I would give you some advice for next time. Have you ever tried a power pose? You stand with your arms raised up in a V for a few minutes. It tricks your brain into thinking that you’ve won (athletes stand like this when they win automatically) and can be a great way to calm anxiety.
It was great meeting you yesterday but unfortunately we’re moving forward with other candidates.
2 – Not enough experience
Whether you’ve re-assessed the role requirements or found a more senior candidate, too little experience is one of the most common reasons for rejecting a candidate. But it can be crushing for job hunters out of work so it’s best to tread carefully with your feedback.
It was great meeting you yesterday but unfortunately we’re moving forward with other candidates. Although I really enjoyed hearing about your experience in email marketing, we are looking for someone with experience using HTML and CSS as well for the more technical elements of the role.
I know this isn’t the news you wanted to hear so I do apologise for that. There are lots of free courses online that you can use to learn HTML and CSS and I recommend you take a look ahead of your next application.
It was great meeting you yesterday but unfortunately we’re moving forward with other candidates that have more experience.
3 – Not the right skills
Perhaps you need someone who is more confident speaking with strangers, or maybe you’re looking for more evidence of leadership and couldn’t find it in the interview. Either way, letting someone know that their soft skills need work is difficult.
It was great meeting you yesterday. As a significant part of this role is spent reaching out to strangers, we decided to move forwards with candidates that had more practised communication skills.
I know this isn’t the news you wanted to hear but I wanted to give you some advice for future roles like this. Experience in retail sales is great for speaking with strangers and you can gain some great skills in online courses.
It was great meeting you yesterday but unfortunately we’re moving forward with other candidates with more relevant experience.
4 – There’s someone else
Sometimes you have to reject a perfectly good candidate just because another was 1% better. In these situations, it’s hard to give feedback because there was nothing wrong with them!
This is an example of where some empathy, professionalism and grace can go a long way.
It was so great meeting you yesterday. I wish I had better news for you but unfortunately we’re moving forward with another candidate. I want you to know that this was a difficult decision and that you did nothing wrong in the interview.
I’d love to stay in touch with you and really encourage you to apply to the next role you’re interested in from us! Would you be open to connecting on LinkedIn?
It was great meeting you but unfortunately we’re moving forwards with another candidate on this occasion. Best of luck in the future!
Sometimes no matter how much detailed feedback you give, a rejected candidate will feel wronged. But hopefully these negative interview feedback examples help you keep most of your bridges fire-proof for your next vacancy.
If you need any further help managing candidates or securing more first-rate interviews, check out our hiring platform.