Curating a positive candidate experience is a crucial differentiator for employers. Applying for a job might be a person's first interaction with your company. And in a tight labor market, first impressions are everything. Don't ghost candidates; share the status of their application, and give feedback regarding their job-fit throughout the hiring process.
It isn't feasible to give every applicant detailed feedback explaining why they aren't qualified for a role. At the application stage, basic communication driven by automated messaging is sufficient to let candidates know that you aren't moving forward with their application.
But once candidates have begun investing time and energy in preparing for interviews and taking assessments, you should return their investment by giving them detailed feedback. Provide feedback that they can use in the future — even if that future isn’t with you.
Here are the stages of the hiring process when it's most important to share feedback with candidates.
Share Assessment Results at the Screening Stage
By the screening and interview stage, candidates have put a lot of their time into your hiring process. Don't ghost them now, or brush them off with a form email. Let candidates know why they aren't progressing further into the hiring process. “Make sure the feedback you’re giving them is related to their performance in the interview or the selection process,” says Wendy Dailey, talent strategist at Sanford Health and podcast host at the #HRSocialHour.
If you use assessments to screen candidates' skills and qualifications, share those results with them. Most assessments result in a report scoring the candidate's skills against the role's essential job requirements. Share that report with candidates to demonstrate your fair selection process and to give them actionable results.
According to Talent Board’s 2020 North America Candidate Experience Research Report, the number of candidates reporting a positive experience increased by 20% when given feedback on a hiring assessment. Beyond demonstrating why those candidates weren't selected to move forward, assessment results give candidates a sense of their strengths and where they can improve, which will help them going forward.
Offer Feedback at the Offer Stage
In the final stages of the hiring process, it's essential to provide feedback to candidates who don't make the cut. But at this stage, don't just tell candidates that they weren't selected: Point back to specific job-related criteria to explain why their skills and qualifications weren't the right match for this role. The more you engage with candidates during the hiring process, the more they perceive your decision to be fair.
This is a good point to begin nurturing good candidates who didn’t quite make the cut. Normalize helping them find a role that might be a better fit for them, Dailey says. Keep good candidates warm for future openings that are better suited to their strengths.
Productive feedback for candidates who don’t make the cut is especially important when dealing with internal candidates, says Shannon Smedstad, engagement director and senior employer brand strategist at exaqueo. Train your hiring managers and recruiters as career coaches so they can have meaningful conversations to help candidates grow their careers, Smedstad continues.
And don’t forget to offer feedback to candidates moving forward, too, says Desiree Booker, principal consultant and career strategist at ColorVizion Lab. “If the candidate is continuing in the process, your goal is to keep that candidate engaged,” she says. “If they do end up getting an offer, that increases the likelihood of conversion.”
Continue Providing Feedback During Onboarding
We often forget that onboarding is part of the hiring process — and an important one at that. By this point in the process, your new hire has come to expect frequent feedback. Don’t let the quality of their experience drop just because you’ve gotten them through the door.
Have hiring managers provide feedback throughout onboarding, which helps new hires to acclimate and grow in the earliest stage of their employment. This feedback, Booker says, helps them connect the dots between why they were chosen and how they can excel in the role.
Continued feedback also provides a strong support for performance excellence. “Internally, it's even more important to provide that feedback because there's a career development component,” Smedstad says. “Help them identify areas of growth.”
Giving candidates feedback throughout the hiring process leaves them with a good impression of your company. If they have a good experience, even if they aren’t selected, these candidates will be more willing to apply for future openings.