Let me guess….you dread telling someone that they have been unsuccessful for a position within your company?

Let me guess….you dread telling someone that they have been unsuccessful for a position with your company? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. So why do people harbour this deep rooted fear towards giving feedback over the phone? Probably because there is a negative stigma attached to giving and receiving feedback. But ‘feedback’ is being looked at all wrong and it doesn’t have to be this way…

Telling someone that they are ‘unsuccessful’ is not actually giving feedback, it is just the outcome. If you give people details on their interview performance, you are instead telling the person how they can improve, so they can do better next time. Whether they need some additional experience and/or exposure, or just some feedback on how they perform in an interview situation, it is 100% more effective for candidates to get feedback directly rather than to sit around wondering what on earth they did wrong! Sure, there are candidates out there who are ‘not the best’, but by giving them feedback we can make them that little bit better.

If a candidate has physically come in to meet with you, then calling them directly is a must, as it will show them that you value you the time they took to come and meet with you. It will also portray a professional company image #freeemployerbranding. And let’s be honest, a phone call can be as quick if not quicker than writing feedback in an email. We just need to get rid of the fear of the phone!

The first step in becoming more confident with issuing feedback is being armed with the facts. If you have a proper recruitment process and a good interview question guide, then you should have no problems issuing a valid and factual reason as to why the candidate is not successful. “We don’t feel you are the right fit”, will not cut it. It can seem a little personal and a candidate has the right to read into it. They can even assume in extreme cases that you are not moving forward due to discriminative reasoning. The word ‘feeling’ really has no place in any feedback setting. Facts should be presented.

 “The other candidate we interviewed was stronger” is also right up there in most hated reasons for being declined from a position. If it actually is the case, then there will still be a clear reason why the other candidate was chosen over the one you are declining… so write it down and let the candidate know why the other was hired instead of them. Beware of using this as an ‘excuse’ for not selecting a candidate if it is not the entire reason they have not been successful. You don’t want to give unsuccessful candidate/s the false impression that you would in fact hire them if the other candidate fell through and the job became available again. Don’t learn this lesson the hard way… just remember, it’s important to be honest.

Here are some examples to help you build confidence towards giving ‘over the phone’ feedback.

“We thought you had some really great experience surrounding customer service and sales however when it came to our questioning surrounding prioritising a changing work load, you unfortunately couldn’t provide us with a strong example of when you have worked with changing priorities and how you dealt with them as a result and this is such an important aspect of the role. I know interviews can be a little nerve racking so if it was just nerves that got the best of you my best advice would be to take your time and ask to revisit a question if you can’t think of an example straight away.”

“We thought your experience was fantastic however during the interview your confidence towards your work didn’t come across the way we would have liked. Within this role you will be dealing with some very strong personalities which you would need to manage daily and because you couldn’t demonstrate enough conviction in your ideas and approaches, we don’t have the confidence that you would be the best match for the team. I understand if it was just nerves however this has affected the outcome in this instance.”  

Emily M, HR Revolution blogger  

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