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Telling a candidate that they weren't selected for the job is never easy. This is why most of the time, as HR professionals, we hit a button in our ATS system and auto-populate an email that lets the candidate know we've gone in a "different direction," or "chosen to move forward with another candidate." But is this what's actually best for the candidate? Are we helping them move forward in their career by skipping vital points of feedback that could help them in the next interview?
My answer is, "No." We've just put this person through hours of interviews and tests, asked them to reveal things about themselves that they may not be comfortable with, admit weaknesses, and possibly even take time off from work to meet us. The least we can do is give them kind, constructive feedback, no matter the outcome.
We're all busy. Despite our busy schedules and ever-expanding task lists, I believe that we still owe job seekers more than just a generic email. In order to help them learn and grow on their career journey, we should be providing them with thoughtful feedback about their performance during the interview process. Even if it's only one or two sentences. Here are a few examples of interview feedback for unsuccessful candidates:
1. "Your answers were thoughtful, well-researched, and showed real insight. We decided to move forward with another candidate because we felt that their experience would give them a competitive advantage in the role. We're grateful for your time and wish you the best of luck in your job hunt.”
2. “Your responses clearly demonstrated that you have a strong grasp of the role’s requirements. However, we ultimately chose to move forward with another candidate because they have direct experience in the field and a proven track record of success in this role. Please keep us in mind if you see any open roles on our site in the future as we very much enjoyed meeting you.
What about when you have a negative experience with a candidate, what does a negative interview feedback sample email look like?
"After talking to the team, we enjoyed meeting you but felt that your answers didn’t seem to demonstrate the required technical knowledge and experience for this role. We chose another candidate who has a record of past performance in this position and will be moving forward with them.
Thank you for your time and we wish you luck in finding a role that is a closer match with your skill set.”
All the Best,
This simple email answers the question we all have in our heads after a rejection, "why?" and helps the candidate move forward with their job search. No matter how you dress it up, getting feedback from an unsuccessful job interview isn't easy. But as hiring managers and recruiters, we owe it to our candidates to provide thoughtful and actionable advice that can aid them in their journey for the next role.
What if the interview went well but you need a few constructive interview feedback examples?
We enjoyed meeting you and were very impressed with your answers. Your background is a great fit for the role, but we're moving forward with another candidate because we feel that your portfolio is more focused on (x) than (y), and (y) is primarily what we'd need in this role. We appreciated hearing about your expertise and passion for the role, and wish you luck in your job hunt.
We all know that job hunting is hard work. That's why I believe we owe it to our candidates to give them helpful interview feedback, encouragement, and support as humans - regardless of the outcome. Let this be a valuable learning experience for the candidate that hopefully helps them find the right role for their skillset. Your choice of ATS (applicant tracking) and interview intelligence software should offer options for personalization on rejection emails and can help the candidates move on appropriately after an unsuccessful interview experience.
There are many reasons to reject a candidate after their interview. If they're not a good fit, don't have the right skills, education, experience, or cultural fit, or aren't familiar with the necessary tools, then there's a high probability that they won't be able to do a great job in the role.
Additionally, some candidates may have too much of one skill, but not enough of another necessary for the role. Communication skills can also be a factor - if the candidate wasn't clear or was too verbose, then it may affect their chances of being selected for the role. Finally, attitude and demeanor are just as important - candidates who come off as overly aggressive or don't seem to have a good work ethic can be a red flag.
In any case, you can use the unsuccessful interview feedback examples above (modified to fit the specific circumstances), to let the candidate know why they weren't chosen for the role. This will help them better understand why they weren't selected and learn from the experience.
Rejection hurts and being the one to deliver the news is hard. But it's important to be honest and open when giving feedback, as this will help your candidates make improvements for their next job search. We'd want someone to do this for us, so let's take the time to do it for them.
In November of 2021, Forbes posted an article titled, "Human Resources Jobs Are Harder Than Ever." The Society for Human Resource Management in March of 2022, posted that "HR teams are stretched thinner than ever." With workforce shortages hovering in the 70% range across the 5- 6 main industries, 517K new jobs added to the market in January 2023, and the lowest unemployment rate since the 1960s, HR teams are under unprecedented pressure.
In short, HR has a lot on its plate. One way to simplify the workload for your HR team is to create post-interview feedback examples on your company cloud or in your ATS software that can be copied, pasted, and (most of all) personalized to give the rejected applicant closure. Interview feedback examples to HR should be concise, to the point, and tactful, and HR teams should strive to maintain unmatched professionalism and empathy when giving feedback, as this will help build trust with applicants and demonstrate your company’s commitment to transparency.
Creating interview feedback examples for HR can also help ensure consistency across all candidates interviewed for a given job position within a certain time. Adding "feedback" to your hiring process to-do list will help ensure that your candidates' time is valued, and it will also build a strong impression for the next applicants. This will lead to an overall CX (candidate experience) that's far better than what they've experienced in the past.
When creating post-interview feedback examples, customize the information to be relevant to each individual candidate and make sure you cover at least the following points:
• Reasons why they weren’t chosen (e.g., skills, qualifications, experience)
• Areas in which they could improve their interview performance.
• "Thank you's" and gratefulness for their time.
• Advice on how to better prepare for future interviews.
• Suggestions of other jobs they may be suitable for at the company or others within your network.
By providing post-interview feedback, you can help candidates understand why they weren’t successful, how to improve next time around, and close the mental loop for them. This will help them feel respected and appreciated, even if they weren’t chosen for the role. Plus, it's a great practice to demonstrate that your company cares about its candidates and helps them take the necessary steps towards a successful job search in the future.
In closing, one of the most powerful things we can do to make a candidate feel our warmth - like we're excited to meet with them, and "seen" for who they truly are, is to take the time to build rapport during the interview process. To call out their strengths and weaknesses, their past experiences, and skills in a way that they're valued. This isn't just lip service. By taking 5- 10 minutes to curiously look over a candidate's resume and LinkedIn profile, portfolio, and social media and find 1- 3 ice breakers to open a conversation, name-drop mutual connections, and talk about their alma mater, influencers they follow, or topics they post passionately about will define the entire experience they have with you.
When we make candidates feel special from the start, they're far more likely to take our feedback since it's coming from a caring place. It's no surprise that network connections have the shortest time-to-hire since the relationship equity and rapport have already been built. Showing this level of respect and appreciation will go a long way in helping your applicants that their time was respected even if they don't get the job.
If you're currently looking for a hiring process that gets results, chat with someone from our team. Pillar is an interview intelligence software that was built to help you make better hires. Using the power of Ai, we'll help you select the right person, efficiently and effectively. Schedule a demo to see how.