And why you shouldn’t worry about it.
You’re not alone – receiving real interview feedback is rare when you’ve been regretted from a hiring process. 83% of candidates do not receive any feedback beyond a rejection email or call after a job interview (Makoff Clark, 2017). While it can be frustrating, declined candidates should consider the practicalities – giving interview feedback is fraught with litigation risk, and few organisations have the resources to ensure compliance.
Companies have a well-founded reluctance to offer feedback simply because unsuccessful job candidates may become angry due to delayed feedback, or take exception to the way it was expressed (People management, 1995). This had led to them seeking redress through industrial tribunals and, in other cases, complaining to the Commission for Racial Equality. In addition, Human Resources/Recruitment operations is one of the busiest and mentally taxing environments around, due mainly to the constant task-hopping. There’s often just not enough hours in the day for detailed feedback on your interview.
Most organisations with a decent HR process will have detailed interview notes taken after all interviews. These are multipurpose, including acting as legal cover justify their declining you for compliance purposes. For reasons mentioned above these notes will always stay internal. To expect hiring managers to then translate these for external consumption, while having their busy day jobs to do, and interview multiple candidates multiple times, is a big logistical ask.
Theoretically, Social comparison theory (Festinger, 1954) and Feedback intervention theory (Kluger & DeNisi 1996), tell us that we’ll be motivated to do better professionally in the presence of informed comparisons. Intuitively that makes sense if you look at the quest for interview feedback as a performance-review of sorts. But the jury is out on the effectiveness of performance reviews (which is another article in itself), and the best ones happen in strong relationships. Interviews are relatively short so relationships rarely develop between parties. Interview feedback may therefore be of little use to you – whatever it is – and may actually hinder your future mindset. From our experience the best approach is to treat interviews simply as conversations.
It may bother you that you’ve given up your time to interview for no return on investment. But there is a quid-pro quo – the organisation has invested the time of at least one senior manager, an internal/external recruiter, and a scheduler in arranging the interview. That’s expensive. Two parties then sat down in conversation to decide if they can help each other. Sometimes it doesn’t work out. Always treat the entire interview experience as a conversation, and everything about the process – from preparation to nerves – will be easier for you. You’ll make the interviewer happy (they’re people too); you’ll be more relaxed; you’ll come across as authentic; and you won’t invest as much emotional capital in post-mortems.
Harsh as it may sound, our advice to regretted candidates is to simply move on – there’s plenty more fish in the sea. Treat interviewing like speed-dating, and rejection becomes far easier to handle – would you expect everyone in the room to want you over for dinner?
When you personally reflect on the interview you’ll find areas you probably fell down on. Take what you can from the experience in terms of work-ons. As a business, we are lucky that many of our clients do have the resources to provide feedback.
When it isn’t forthcoming, we do our very best to get feedback for our candidates, but for the reasons above it just may never happen. Rather than worrying about feedback, work towards your next conversation.
MAKOFF-CLARK, A. (2017). “No.” Is that all you’re telling unsuccessful applicants? Most employers have given up on offering interview feedback – but if you handle it carefully, there s no reason to stay silent. People Management, 14–15. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com.dcu.idm.oclc.org/
Giving interview feedback can prove problematic. (1995). People Management, 1(9), 57. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com.dcu.idm.oclc.org/