Didn’t Get the Job? You’ll Never Know Why

Candidate Feedback is lacking, Says CareerXroads research...Or, will you? Two and a half years ago Lauren Weber wrote an excellent Wall Street Journal Careers feature of the same name (now behind their content firewall) on candidate feedback .

In the article, Amelia Merrill, Risk Management Solutions’ TA leader and a multiple year winner of the TalentBoard’s Candidate Experience Award, states unequivocally that “despite how awkward it can be (she) expects her recruiters to call ‘Finalists’ to let them know they weren’t hired, giving those candidates a chance to ask more questions.” The goal according to Amelia is that even rejected candidates should leave still wanting to work at RMS.

RMSs response was not unique even in 2012 but, it was also not very common and far from the standard Employer response to candidates… when they got a response at all.

More frequent responses include:

“You came in second. Try, Try Again” (Sent to all 4 finalists).

“We found someone who was a better fit.”

“The other candidate was more suited to the position.”

“No.” (In response to the question, “was there anything I could have done differently.”)

Can you imagine in 2016 these approaches adding value to any firm’s employer brand claims around Transparency? Authenticity? Fairness?

Since its inception in 2011, the TalentBoard has been asking both Employers and their Candidates about feedback (both ways). Feedback to candidates was noted in the WSJ article as being 4.4% – an abysmal showing. That figure however included ALL candidates who succeeded in applying, not just the ‘Finalists’ and, not to excuse how badly we tend to treat those who apply and go no further but, you would think that those in the last step of the hiring supply chain would fare far better.

Not so much.

Below are the 2012-2015 CandE responses by ‘Finalists’ (~35,000 over 4 years) defined as candidates who a) completed interviews with hiring managers; b) did not get an offer; and, c) received (by their account…not the employer’s claims to have provided feedback) “Specific and valuable feedback including answering my questions”:


In an increasingly customer-centric world (that is learning by the way the power of sharing their experience on social media), the lack of helpful feedback to the best qualified candidates you can find has consequences. Lawyers and CFOs who can still be heard warning about ‘compliance’ and ‘tight resources’ need to be told that data to calculate the reward of treating candidates well in this regard and, the cost for failing to adopt some basic feedback standards is far more critical to their firm’s success. The legal and financial risks when managed by strong TA leaders pale in comparison to what can be achieved by providing valuable feedback to the candidates you have not hired.

In the next week, the TalentBoard’s 2016 Whitepaper on Candidate Experience will be published and employers looking to improve will find a valuable set of ideas.

CXR Colloquium members participating in the Candidate Experience Awards process have done well the last few years. Their strategies in raising the bar for candidate feedback, especially for ‘Finalists’ tend to emphasize the following:

  • Deeper discussions over the elephant in the room: Compliance. Get the company lawyers to help not prohibit.
  • Formal training on how to provide feedback and mentoring by recruiters with experience giving feedback. Recruiters are seldom taught to coach the ones who didn’t make it. OJT isn’t enough.
  • Development of shared scripts and flexible communication tools to reach out to Finalists.
  • Setting expectations in advance via career site content and screening interviews.
  • Holding recruiters accountable for consistently calling all finalists before closing a requisition.
  • Calculating the cost of a bad experience and the reward of a good one from the data provided.

Several colloquium meetings will challenge members to share practices and innovate when it comes to feedback. What are you doing?