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How to give feedback to rejected job candidates

There are ways to give feedback and keep your reputation without hurting feelings or putting your company at any risk.

Interviewing candidates for an open job on your farm is no easy task. Rejecting a candidate that you have interviewed is even more challenging and something most employers dread.

Sending a post-interview rejection email is necessary, but have you ever had a candidate respond wanting feedback from their interview? This is a tricky situation and some employers aren’t sure how to respond. Not only do you risk upsetting the candidate, but you can put your company at legal risk as well.

There are ways to give feedback and keep your reputation without hurting feelings or putting your company at any risk.

 Start with the positive

Just because the candidate was not right for a certain job does not mean they won’t be right for another position elsewhere. In fact, 84% of candidates tell AgCareers.com they have ongoing communication with employers, even after they are rejected for the current opening.

“Starting off with the positive attributes from the interview will ease the candidate’s mind when you move on to more constructive and helpful criticisms,” says Kacey Toews, AgCareers.com Talent Solutions Sales Specialist. “Even though they were rejected for the position, being positive boosts the candidate experience with your company.”

 Watch what you say

It is best to stay very general when giving interview feedback. Going into too much detail may cause the candidate to misunderstand your message.

“Even with the best intentions, you never know when something you say could be taken the wrong way,” says Toews. “Keeping feedback short and sweet will prevent you from going too in depth.”

 Avoid saying anything in writing

If asked to provide interview feedback to a candidate, it is best to do so by phone. Not only is this more personal, but it can help the candidate understand the message you are getting across and you will have less risk of them misunderstanding the feedback you are giving. This also helps you keep the conversation brief and keep you from having lots of messages back and forth.

Avoid opinions or feelings

Generally, you are speaking on behalf of your employer so keeping any personal opinions or feelings out of the feedback is best. It is wise to stay neutral during the interview process but especially when giving feedback. Having any sort of bias in the interview process and candidate selection can leave your company vulnerable for legal action.

Be respectful

Always remember that your company’s reputation is on the line with every interview you conduct. You are most likely the first person they will interact within the company, so if they have a bad candidate experience, it could leave them with negative feelings about the company. When giving feedback it is also a good reminder that everyone is human and has feelings; if you must deliver a tough criticism try to craft a message sensitively, advises Toews.

 This article is not legal advice and is for guidance only. Check with your legal counsel for the most relevant and up to date information.

The opinions of the author are not necessarily those of Farm Futures or Farm Progress. 

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