A Recruiter’s Guide To Delivering Constructive Feedback To Candidates

A Recruiters Guide To Delivering Constructive Feedback To Candidates

According to LinkedIn, 94% of candidates want to receive feedback after an interview. But, giving feedback isn’t easy, especially when you weren’t even at the interview!

As a recruiter, providing constructive feedback is how you can earn the respect and loyalty of high quality candidates and elevate your reputation above your competitors. In this blog, we outline how you can obtain better quality interview feedback from your clients and 6 tips for delivering feedback to your candidates.

How To Obtain Interview Feedback From Your Clients?

Before you can give constructive feedback to your candidates, it is essential to obtain it from your clients and, as you well know, this is not always forthcoming. However, there are some proven tactics to implement into your processes to obtain more valuable feedback:

Organise an interview debrief call

By organising a date and time to discuss your candidate’s interview over the phone, you already setting the precedent with your clients that you expect constructive feedback and, therefore, are more likely to receive it. In addition, by setting their expectations from the outset and being proactive, it displays an authentic professionalism that will put you ahead of most of your competitors.

Prepare well

To maximise the use of your client’s time AND get the information you need to feedback to your candidate, prepare some questions to get to the heart of why they weren’t successful.

You can begin by thinking about what feedback you, yourself, would like to receive as a candidate. Then you can begin to construct a list of questions that will prompt specific and more detailed answers from your client.

Struggling to think of poignant questions? Here’s a simple structure that you can use:


  • On the whole, what was the client’s overall impression of your candidate?
  • How did your candidate present themselves?
  • Did they answer the questions fully and in the manner your client expected?

Culture fit

  • Were they the right cultural fit for the office and the role?
  • Did their personality shine through or were they strictly professional?


  • Were they able to demonstrate their skill set sufficiently?
  • What skills did the candidate not demonstrate enough of?


  • What were the candidate’s strengths?
  • What could the candidate improve on?

By asking open questions, you should be able to take enough notes to give transparent and constructive feedback to your candidate that will help them improve whilst at the same time improving your recruiter-candidate relationship. In addition to this, you will also begin to learn the key components that your clients look for in a candidate and how their interview process is structured. This valuable insight will be goldust for preparing candidates for future interviews.

6 Tips For Delivering Constructive Feedback

1. Always deliver feedback over the phone

No one likes delivering negative news and it is a difficult part of the recruitment profession. However, by communicating feedback in a personal manner, as a rule, you will gain another level of trust and respect which improves the candidate experience.

It will also enable you to better gauge your candidate’s reaction so there’ll be no ambiguity or misunderstanding.

2. Start with the positives

There are many ways to deliver constructive feedback but the “praise sandwich” is a well trodden path. Sandwiching the negative feedback in between two positive bits of feedback will usually make a candidate more receptive to the important part; where they need to improve.

If all you deliver is negative feedback, your candidate is more likely to:
Switch off and not learn from their mistakes
Remember that you were the “messenger” that brought the bad news

3. Be specific about their strengths and weaknesses

As well as being sensitive to your candidate’s career, you also have to be honest and specific. Lofty feedback such as “you just weren’t quite what they were looking for” isn’t going to help anyone.

Whereas, by pinpointing that their strengths such as, “you have sufficient skills for the role but the client felt you didn’t demonstrate enough client facing experience.”

By being specific, it gives your candidate practical advice ago where they may need to improve
N.B. By using qualifying phrases such as demonstrate, display or offer, you can soften the negative feedback.

4. Be transparent

No matter how difficult it is to give feedback to a candidate who has been unsuccessful, every candidate deserves transparency. Unfortunately, this is still a rare commodity in large swathes of the recruitment process and, because of this, it will be even more greatly appreciated.

5. Make recommendations where possible

Having witnessed more successful and unsuccessful interviews than the majority of your clients and candidates put together, you are in an exclusive position to give valuable recommendations about interview technique. By offering this insight, you will gain trust and build your reputation as a valued asset.

6. Use your experience

Although these tips will improve your process of giving constructive feedback, every situation will differ and you must use your experience to read the candidate and how they like to receive feedback. Your job relies primarily on making successful placements and building a strong reputation as a valuable recruiter and this should remain your priority.

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