Written by Chris Russell
21st July, 2021
Interview Feedback – How to Make it Useful
Interview feedback is one of the most important parts of the hiring process, yet it tends to be the one part most often overlooked or seen as a chore.
The feedback we’re talking about in this article are the notes and written impressions interviewers make of the candidates. There are other types of interview feedback including feedback from candidates about the hiring process and interview feedback given to candidates to let them know how they did and how they might improve.
Interview Feedback Essentials
For the hiring team, feedback from each interviewer is essential to fairly evaluate candidates. Well written interview feedback forms provide a way to compare multiple candidates and to know why each interviewer scored a candidate as they did.
This is equally true when only the hiring manager is conducting the interviews. Most of us have a hard time remembering what we had for lunch yesterday, let alone what a candidate interviewed a week or two ago said.
Though most of us would agree that interview feedback is valuable, it has to be detailed and specific to be useful. A feedback form that recommends against hiring a candidate because “they don’t seem to be a good fit” is of no help to other members of the hiring team because it lacks a basis for the impression.
Should a legal issue arise over a rejection, that lack of specificity could be seen as suggestive of bias.
Writing good interview feedback doesn’t have to be difficult. Many organizations use standardized interview forms.
Standardizing the Interview
The Society for Human Resource Management has a sample interview evaluation form online that includes a scoresheet covering multiple areas of inquiry. A numerical rating is a quick, but perhaps too easy, method of scoring candidates. It’s tempting with that system to skip the details, which, most recruiting professionals agree, is where the emphasis should be.
While there’s no lack of advice online about what should be covered and how to compile interview feedback, there’s no disagreement about the key points.
Backed up by extensive research, HR leaders say structured interviews yield the best information and make for the most valuable interview feedback.
Structured interviews are more effective in evaluating candidates and they make it easier to compare candidates, since all are asked the same important questions. That also makes it easier to craft an interview feedback form.
Pulling from a broad variety of sources we’ve distilled the best advice to the five most important steps in crafting effective interview feedback:
- Take notes during the interview on what the candidate says in response to your key questions. If you use a numeric rating, give it to each question or category during the interview. Be sure to make a note why.
- Immediately after the interview, detail your impressions and the specific reason for each. Update and expand on the notes you took during the interview. Review the job description to compare what’s listed there to what you learned from the candidate.
- Set the notes and comments aside to give you time to process the interview. Most interview professionals suggest coming back to craft the actual interview feedback document the next day. In the meantime, avoid conferring with other members of the interview team. Don’t let someone else’s opinions influence yours.
- In writing the interview feedback, be specific and give examples. Focus on their professional attributes. Include your impressions only when you can back them up with concrete examples.
- The final interview feedback should have a clear decision about moving forward or not with the candidate with a summary of why you reached that decision.
Indeed.com, the job search site has a brief guide to writing interview feedback that includes dos and don’ts and an example of useful feedback.
The recruiting technology company Workable has several samples of how to provide specific feedback. And a Harvard Business Review article about removing bias from the interview process explains the value of structured interviewing in scoring candidates and creating fair and unbiased interview feedback.