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January 24, 2018 5:06 AM

Candidate Feedback – It’s a Two-Way Street

A qualified candidate with bags of experience walks out of an interview feeling on top of the world, yet a few days later a rejection email lands in their inbox. And they have no idea why. It’s the story of unsuccessful candidates the world over, and unless they get some honest feedback on how they handled the application process, there’s every chance it will keep happening again, and again, and again. We all understand the importance of giving feedback to unsuccessful candidates but do we ask for the same when we are unsuccessful recruiters?


Rejection can happen to anyone

When we talk about rejection in the recruitment industry, the focus tends to lie with the candidate. How do they cope with rejection? Are we giving them enough feedback? Is there anything more that we can do to help them? All of which are valid points. But what about the rejected recruiter?  

You see it’s all too easy to forget that rejection can happen to anyone, and that includes recruiters and hiring companies. While it may not be the case in every recruitment drive, there are times when a candidate that we want to hire simply says no and nothing you can do will change their mind.

Of course, the understandable reaction to such a situation is to knuckle down and focus on the remaining candidates. After all, there’s a position to fill. However, if we don’t follow up on their reasons for rejecting the position, we’re missing a golden opportunity to gain some solid feedback. Feedback that could give us an insight into candidates’ perception of the company and the hiring process.

So what do we do?


Asking for feedback

Many companies and recruitment firms now have a standard feedback collection process whereby they send a form to all candidates asking for their input on the hiring process. This is an essential cog in the recruitment machine as it helps us improve candidate experience, remove unnecessary (or annoying) segments of the process, and ultimately build a better brand image.

This process is usually labeled as a ‘Candidate Experience Survey,’ and we’ll just say again that it’s essential for everything from accelerating your time to hire to improving the quality of your candidates.

But what we’re talking about here is not feedback on the general process but the actual reasons why a candidate felt compelled to reject your offer.

This goes way deeper.

You need to find out exactly why they turned you down and a feedback template simply won’t do.

It’s time to pick up the phone and give them a call.

Try to ask questions such as

  • What were the positive aspects of the role offered? – This will set them at ease and help them open up to you. People are usually keen to offer credit where it’s due, and it’s always easier to start a conversation on a positive note.


  • Did you have any reservations about the role? – This can help you identify possible issues with the job description in your marketing efforts. If the job wasn’t what they expected, then perhaps your job postings lack sufficient details.


  • What factors most affected your decision? – If factors such as brand image, company culture, or perhaps even benefits come into play here, then it may be time to look at making your company more attractive to top talent. However, proceed with caution, these reasons are often subjective. No need to increase salary offers because one candidate wanted movie star wages.


  • What do you think we can do to improve? – Now, this is a slightly ambiguous question and intentionally so. The candidate will no doubt offer advice on the one aspect of the company or recruitment process that bugged them the most. This is the answer that you should pay the most attention to.  


In some cases, asking the candidate upfront will only result in either embarrassment on their part or a wishy-washy unspecific answer. If the phone call isn’t going as well as expected, then ask if you can send an email that they can answer in their own good time.

Remember though that the candidate is under no obligation to provide you with any of this information so tread carefully and try not to make it seem like an interrogation. And if they admit that they were offered a more suitable role at another company, don’t ask too many questions about their new employer. It’s their business, not yours.


Acting on feedback

This is where a lot of people drop the ball; they don’t take the feedback offered seriously enough. When a candidate tells you the exact reason why they rejected your offer or something that they disliked about your recruitment process then it’s time to take action.

Discuss the feedback with your colleagues and determine if you can improve upon or resolve any of the issues described. It could be that the candidate was a little picky but if you’re experiencing a downturn in accepted offers then perhaps they’ve got a point.

And just like the candidate who doesn’t act on feedback may never get a job, the recruiter who ignores their feedback may never find the best and most suitable talent for a role.


Follow up with the candidate

Now some may feel that this isn’t really necessary, but we beg to differ.

Following up with a candidate to let them know that you acted on their feedback nurtures a relationship that you may have otherwise lost. It also keeps the candidate in your pipeline as a possible prospect for the future.

Keeping a superstar candidate in your pipeline? Yep. Definitely necessary!


So how does your company handle rejection? Do you gather around in the break room and stare miserably into your instant coffees? We didn’t think so, but the truth is that a lot of companies have no clear-cut policy to deal with such instances. Could it be that they’re all targeting the right candidates? We think not. It’s more likely that they simply haven’t gotten around to it yet. If this sounds like you, then it’s time to take action and cut down the number of job offer rejections you receive.

Now we won’t lie, our sourcing consultants don’t have much experience in handling rejection so we’re not sure they can help you in that area. The fact is they’re just too good at finding the right talent for the right job (humble brag). Here’s an idea, find the right people, and the chances are, they won’t turn you down at all. So why not let vsource help you fill your pipeline with the best possible candidates

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