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The Importance of Candidate Feedback

Arguably, this article shouldn't extend any further than the headline. It says it all. It's a statement of the obvious. But unfortunately candidate feedback – or the lack of it - is a growing problem, and not just for the candidate.  

The phrase 'Employer Branding' is very much in vogue at the moment. And quite rightly so. Creating a positive impression of what it's like to work for an organisation is a powerful tool for attracting the best talent.

But two factors are presenting a challenge to any organisation wishing to boost its reputation. First, the recruitment process is becoming longer and longer. And it shows no signs of slowing. The screening process alone - certainly within the Scottish financial sector - is now an average of three weeks.

Second, the number one complaint from candidates during this protracted process concerns feedback - either in the way it is delivered, the lack of detail it involves, or, more damagingly, its complete absence.

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Mishandling feedback can turn a person off forever

In a previous post, Betsy highlighted the importance for hiring managers in maintaining a dialogue with a new hire during their notice period. But good communication should be the goal regardless of where the candidate is in the process, even if it’s a decline at the application stage.

A declined applicant for a job today could be the perfect candidate for a role tomorrow.

Mishandling feedback could turn that person off an organisation forever.

I can think of several candidates who, some years later, still dismiss the prospect of working with a company solely because of the feedback they received in the past.

Negative or no feedback

This is nothing to do with the feedback being negative, it is almost always because either none was given or it was delivered insensitively.

Also, a candidate, if not a suitable employee of the future, may well be an existing customer (or at least a potential one). Not providing feedback is essentially ignoring them. And no company has ever built a successful business by disregarding its customers. In recognition of this, general levels of customer service have improved significantly in recent years. Recruitment needs to catch up.

I am by no means perfect, but I always attempt to get back to every applicant who approaches me about a vacancy. Due to the volumes often involved, this might just be a brief email explaining that unfortunately, on this occasion, they aren't suitable for the role. People often respond to my reply with surprise and thanks, a reaction which highlights the extent of the wider problem.

Feedback involves respect and appreciation

At the heart of all this is the simple truth that people want to feel appreciated and respected. A candidate going through a long and challenging recruitment process is no different.

If a company wishes to protect and enhance its employer reputation it has to find a way to decline candidates promptly, professionally and politely, regardless of whether it is at application, offer or screening stage.

It is short-sighted to point to the volume of applicants as a reason for not making this a realisable goal. This is similar to an organisation arguing it doesn’t have time to look after its customers.

It is no coincidence that the companies that do make a commitment to providing candidates with timely and appropriate feedback are also the ones renowned for being great places to work.

As my grandmother used to often remark: it’s nice to be important, but it's also important to be nice.

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Mike Stirton
Director – Interim, Temporary & Contract
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