Better Business: Why it’s Time to Start Giving Feedback to the Candidates You Reject

October 1, 2014


Have you ever applied for a job, and in return received… well, radio silence? You’re ready to make a career move, perhaps you’ve been working with a specialty executive recruiter like us, and things feel good, like they’re on track. You put a lot of hard work into crafting a tailor-made cover letter and resume, researching the company, going through a series of intensive but promising interviews. And then: nothing.

You know you can’t possibly be the best fit for every position, but it would still be nice to get some feedback. It’s something that can make a big difference moving forward, right? We agree. Argentus thinks it’s time for more companies to realize that giving feedback to the candidates they reject isn’t just a matter of best practices, but better business.

The pros of giving feedback to candidates who don’t get the job cuts across party lines. It’s something that benefits employer, recruiter, and job seeker. Here’s why:

Knowing what doesn’t work helps you figure out what does.

Feedback from companies about candidates is something we as executive recruiters can use to more accurately refine the search. For example, Argentus specializes in niche recruitment for the high demand supply chain field, drawing on a deep network of supply chain professionals to best fit our client’s current needs. The more our recruitment team at Argentus knows about what kind of industry expertise, knowledge, skills, or experience companies want for a role, the more strategic we can be as we source talent.

This process also enables an employer’s internal human resources department to integrate the results of an on-going hiring search to more accurately identify key requirements moving forward – e.g. is a certification necessary, but missing from the job description? Does salary scale reflect an appropriate market rate? – improving personnel outcomes, saving resources, energy, and time.

It’s good for your brand.

Constructive criticism and tactful honesty can go a long way. And providing rejected candidates with focused, factual feedback is a real “brand-building” moment for most employers. What will people think walking away from their experience with your company? Is it the kind of experience that still affirms your brand identity? In other words, it’s important to understand that feedback is an effective investment, with both short- and long-term returns.

A rejected candidate may not ultimately be right for the role they applied to, but a perfect addition to another area of the business down the line instead; a rejected candidate who never hears back from an employer may be offended or confused and speak poorly of the encounter, deterring other bright people from pursuing a career there. The potential for unfortunate scenarios like that is endless (and largely unnecessary). As a rule of thumb, employers should strive to behave in ways that need no spin doctoring; doing the right thing during the talent acquisition stage lays a solid foundation of success for the company and its brand.

Sites like Glassdoor are popular with job seekers and cater to crowd-sourced solutions and insights about interviews, workplace, and more. These sites are also a prime venue for complaints from candidates, so if your company fails to give feedback to a rejected candidate, it might end up with negative social media buzz. Beyond the day-to-day of company life, how employers navigate recruitment speaks volumes about the real company behind the glossy narrative. It’s worthwhile to make sure that snapshot demonstrates brand values in practice.

Put people first and pay it forward.

Remember what it’s like to hear nothing when a job lead runs cold, or you send out a flurry of CVs and receive no replies, or have an arduous series of interviews for your dream position go nowhere. It sucks. Big companies that receive a high volume of applications may struggle with feasible strategies to integrate feedback, but even a basic template for the most common scenarios or reasons (which retain some flexibility for personalization) will put the minds of rejected candidates at ease.

Channel that empathy and treat people well – it isn’t hard or time-consuming, and it’s a big opportunity for ROI when rejected candidates have a positive exit experience and walk away with genuine respect for the company. Those rejected candidates will also feel less frustrated or inclined to air their grievances online, and more confident recommending the company to others or applying again in the future.

People come first. Abiding by the “people come first” guideline is central to how we operate here at Argentus. The supply chain field is particularly tough to navigate, and handling the hiring process well is instrumental to successful placements. We ask clients for information about fit and check-in regularly to create a well-defined executive search for their business. We also deliver useful feedback to inform candidates about the hiring process so they’re not left in the dark about where they stand, what happened, or how to improve.

Do you have any good advice about giving feedback? Any first-hand lessons learned as an employer, recruiter, or job seeker about closing the feedback loop? Let us know in the comments.


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