Building Your Employer Brand Using Candidate Feedback

Posted by | November 2, 2015 | General


The most common complaint from job seekers is that they never get any feedback after an application or an interview. Candidate feedback should be considered courtesy and good manners but most human resource managers and business owners do not consider it necessary anymore.

Imagine this; You see a job advert on LinkedIn and it says there is a senior management vacancy in a company you would love to work for. You submit your application, but then you never hear from the company about the job again. No ‘regret mail’; no status update; Nothing!!!

Failure to notify unsuccessful candidates about their application status is unprofessional and impolite. Empathize with the applicant in the story above. After taking the time and energy to complete an application, or worse, taking time off your current job to go for an interview that most likely lasted a whole day, you never hear from the organization again, until finally, you just resign yourself to the fact that you did not get the job. This does not project the “great employer brand” that most organizations preach.

It is easy to call a candidate that did well in an interview session to tell them that they got the job. However, to maintain your professional reputation, you have to make it a priority to communicate with candidates that have been unsuccessful too.

According to Paul Slezak, there are two main reasons why organisations/HR Managers neglect to contact unsuccessful candidates, and they are;

  • Procrastination:  Having to be the bearer of bad news is not the most pleasant thing for anyone to do and a HR manager may just be postponing it until they have a moment to spare. Unfortunately, that moment may never come.
  • Prioritisation:  If a candidate is no longer being considered for a job, calling them back is not as important to a HR manager or business owner as submitting deliverables or meeting deadlines.

It is in the organisation’s best interest to show that they care about the candidates that apply with them by providing constructive feedback on skills/competencies they lack and how to improve on them for the next time they apply. It is also in the candidate’s best interest to hear they did not get the job and why.

Don’t wait too long to send the candidates feedback or just send them a formatted mail. If possible, call them personally or send a personalised mail and provide them with the appropriate feedback.

Here are some tips that can guide you when sending communications (email or phone call) to unsuccessful candidates.

  • Be honest: ‘Honesty is the best policy’. Tell the candidates what you know they can improve on and not what you think they want to hear because you feel sorry for them.
  • Be brief: Don’t beat around the bush. Be as brief as possible and go straight to the point.
  • Be balanced: Provide a mix of criticism and praise. Too much criticism might make them go on the defensive and too much praise might sound insincere.

Generally, it is important that candidates get concrete feedback 2 weeks (at the latest) after an interview or engagement with the organization. Using a good Applicant Tracking System (ATS) will help automate this process as well.


This article has focused on feedback to unsuccessful candidates. The assumption here is that it is only logical to provide feedback and information on next steps to successful candidates.

However, there are instances when for some reason, the recruitment process has stalled and recruiters/HR managers have not bothered to inform successful candidates about what exactly is happening. This is simply bad manners and bad business behavior too. Many times, when the organization is eventually ready to recruit or proceed with the candidate, he/she may have moved on or even become too upset to want to be hired by a rude and impolite organization.


Remember, on average, people tell one friend about a positive experience and at least ten friends about a negative experience.

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