As an ex-HR Director in another life I am all too aware of the reasons why we shy away from honest, constructive feedback (be it at the end of the interview or in a subsequent call or email):
- If the applicant doesn't get the job we think they might not like what they hear and will potentially bring a legal claim (we think cliché feedback as explored below gets us off the hook on this!)
- It's another time-consuming task to put together meaningful feedback that is pitched in the right way with the right words, tone etc
- If feedback is given it may open a 'right to reply' channel from the interviewee and then where do I go from there?
- Or perhaps it might just be 'I'm never going to see them again so why bother!'
The main two objections I hear are around the legal context or the time it takes to solicit, frame and give meaningful feedback - so let me break that down:
In the absence of rubbish or no feedback I might start to get annoyed as the candidate. Being fobbed off with 'the other person had more experience', they were more 'corporate' or a 'better fit' tells me next to nothing - apart from the fact that as HR or a recruiter you want me off your back and put to bed in the quickest way possible! This feedback may actually be true but the clichés themselves leave me suspicious as the candidate! I'm qualified for the role and had what I thought was a good interview. I'm now disgruntled, don't know the real reasons for my rejection so may feel like I was discriminated against. I read the Equality Act and start to think I may have been disadvantaged in some way relevant to it and so the claim potentially begins.
And guess what? I'm left with a bad impression of your Company or recruitment business and will tell people this too. You haven't helped me in my future job-search, I don't have much to go on and may repeat some of the mistakes I may have made in my next interviews elsewhere.
The answer for me is always to give good, factual feedback around what I 'saw' and 'heard' and what I concluded from it as the interviewer. No-one ever won a discrimination claim because they were told that 'the answers you gave to the client meetings question did not give the interviewer confidence that you could handle client objections well because.......etc etc'.
Who knows - the interviewee may come back to you with something that changes how you saw things or a gives you a piece of new information that makes you take a second look at them. If they don't, they accept the feedback, tell others how refreshing it was to get it and hopefully work on whatever it was for their future. Win/Win.