Recruiter feedback: Why it matters to unsuccessful candidates
Giving feedback to unsuccessful candidates can seem like yet another, less important, task in a busy day. But failing to give feedback to candidates is a major source of ill-will among jobseekers.

Recent SEEK research has revealed that 43 per cent of Australian workers have applied for a job but never heard back from the employer.

Not surprisingly, two out of three people who never heard back from the employer felt more negatively towards the company, and 57 per cent were unlikely to apply for another job there.

Workers believe job ads posted directly by a company are twice as likely – 29 per cent versus 15 per cent – to elicit a response than those posted by recruiters. 

So how should agency recruiters manage the task of giving feedback within an already busy schedule?

Why feedback matters  

Any candidate should be treated as a person first and foremost, says Jim Roy, director of recruitment agency Michael Page Australia.

“Recruiters should also remember that they have the ability to influence careers and lives. Therefore, candidate feedback is an absolutely essential part of the specialist recruitment consulting provided.

“Feedback like this is a gift, and when delivered and received well is something that only improves the candidate’s chances of securing a role.”

Debbie Davis, General Manager NSW at recruitment agency Davidson, says it’s essential to give candidates feedback after the interview process, and candidates shouldn’t have to chase the recruiter.

Candidates can see recruiters as a roadblock to getting a job, so recruiters should be highly attentive, responsive and add value to candidates during their job search.

“Candidates invest a huge amount of time into their job search, normally whilst trying to juggle a full-time role. We expect them to drop everything to attend interviews for us, often requiring them to take time off work.

“Candidates need closure, and so they can take on feedback for their next interview. It’s also common courtesy and respectful. It builds your brand and reputation and candidates will be more likely to work with you again and to refer other candidates when they have a good experience.”

INFOGRAPHIC: Closing the loop: Why recruiters should provide candidate feedback

What kind of feedback should you give?

Davis says recruiters should explain where a candidate performed well, and where they fell short in the interview against what the client was looking for.

Some clients might not give any feedback other than a “no”, so it’s important recruiters chase further information. Let the candidate know straight away they were unsuccessful while you wait for feedback so they know where they stand. 

Davis tells her clients upfront that they need to provide feedback following interviews, and sets a timeline.

“Constructive feedback allows candidates to take this onboard for future interviews. When a client only passes on that the successful candidate had more relevant industry experience or was a better culture fit, it can be frustrating for candidates, so we always try to obtain more detailed feedback.”

A human touch

When it comes to giving feedback, human interaction is best, says Roy. “Like any conversation, face to face is best of course. If that fails, picking up the telephone to have that conversation should be the next step.”

It’s also best to manage expectations up front, says Roy. Try to be clear during advertising and the interview process about who will be contacted, when and why.

Davis says interview feedback should always be given over the phone, as it’s timely and personal, rather than by email, which the candidate could see as a fob-off.

“It also gives the candidate the opportunity to ask questions and for the recruiter to provide more valuable insight and closure for the candidate.”

Too busy? Make the time

Candidate and client feedback is every recruiter’s responsibility, and should always be part of a busy schedule, says Roy.

“A good recruiter will glean information and package this well for the job applicant without breaking any confidentiality clause expected by the hiring managers,” Roy says.

Giving feedback is the most essential part of the recruitment process and managing your relationship with a candidate, says Davis.

“Jobseekers are hungry for feedback,” says Davis, and recruiters risk alienating candidates by not providing it. 

“The longer they’ve been searching for a job, the more desperate they are to find out why they aren’t getting roles, and become more frustrated when this is not provided.

“It’s a competitive world out there and we need to do everything we can to assist our candidates in gaining meaningful employment and providing timely feedback and advice.”