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6 examples of interview feedback to start using today

July 28, 2022 - 18 min read

interview-feedback-woman-interviewing-candidate

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What is interview feedback and why is it important?

7 elements of good interview feedback

How do you give productive feedback after an interview?

How to standardize your interview feedback

How to share interview feedback internally

How to deliver interview feedback to a candidate

I recently went to coffee with a friend. 

She was in the final rounds of the interview process with a financial software company. She and one other candidate made it to the last panel interview. 

She thought everything went well. She had a good rapport with the hiring manager, the recruiter was responsive and kind, and the director seemed engaged in the conversation. But a few days later, she received an email from the recruiter. They decided to go in a different direction. Nothing more, pretty straightforward. 

My friend was disappointed, of course. But what she really wanted was some interview feedback. What about her interview didn’t land well, especially in those final stages?

Only around 7% of candidates receive a phone call about a rejection. So, it’s not surprising that my friend’s interview feedback was minimal. In today’s market, there are currently 11 million job openings in the U.S. When it comes to finding (and keeping) top talent, it’s still a competitive market. And top of mind is employer branding

Companies are striving to stay agile and competitive in a fast-changing world of work. With tightening budgets, a potential recession, the rise of inflation, and navigating the uncertainty ahead, there’s a lot going on. 

For any organization, preserving the integrity of your employer brand is a top priority. In a market where bright and agile talent matters more than ever, interview feedback is a must. 

What is interview feedback and why is it important?

First, let’s understand what we mean by interview feedback. 

Your employee brand is a critical component of maintaining good relationships between your company, prospective employees, and current employees. The interview process for any candidate is a part of the employee experience cycle. LinkedIn reports that 52% of candidates who were given interview feedback are likely to continue the relationship with the company

Interview feedback is also important for growth and development. At BetterUp, we believe everyone should have the opportunity to reach their full potential. We’re on a mission to help everyone everywhere live with greater purpose, clarity, and passion. 

Yet, we know many employees report feeling stuck or stagnant in their growth. Many struggle to find ways to propel their careers or lives forward. And many don’t know how to better themselves. Enter: interview feedback. 

By providing feedback to candidates, you’re signaling your investment in their career. An old colleague and friend recently reached out to me about her job search.

She was in the preliminary stages of interviewing with a company she was really excited about. She completed the first two interviews and still had one final interview before they could make a decision. Nervous about the final interview, she ended up asking the recruiter for interview feedback before her final interview. 

The recruiter was gracious, kind, and helpful. They helped my friend talk through areas of opportunity while also sharing what was done well. It helped my friend feel so much more prepared to go into the final interview. The result? She ended up landing the job. But she credits the recruiter for providing mid-interview feedback for helping her. 

It also reaffirmed that this was the company she wanted to work for. She took the interaction with the recruiter to be a good sign of the company culture. Overall, it helped her make the right decision for her career. 

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7 elements of good interview feedback

Let’s talk about what makes good interview feedback. Here are seven elements to consider when putting together effective interview feedback. 

  • Detailed notes (including the name of the candidate, date, and interview questions asked) 
  • Specific examples of responses that you might want to provide constructive feedback on 
  • A list of interview questions that were asked 
  • The hiring team’s feedback was captured (especially if multiple team members were involved in the hiring process
  • Any sample project, writing, or work that was supplied by the candidate 
  • Consider positive feedback on what the job seeker did well 
  • Think about what skill sets the candidate has (or doesn’t have) that match with the job description — and evaluate growth mindset and ability to learn 
  • Any observations from the working interview, if one was completed
  • Any observations on interviewing skills  

By considering this set of components, you should be able to form a good perspective. Try writing down notes for each element and make time for reflection. 

interview-feedback-candidate-talking-during-interview

How do you give productive feedback after an interview?

Now that you’ve had a chance to think about what sort of feedback you might provide, here are some examples. Remember, the job interview is often a daunting process. You want your job seekers to have a good candidate experience, one that helps to form a relationship with your organization. 

We recommend starting off by asking the job seeker if they’re open to some interview tips or feedback about their interview performance. Generally, this can help set the stage and make sure the candidate isn’t caught off-guard. 

You might also mention that feedback is an important part of how your company operates. At BetterUp, we think about feedback as a gift. It’s a sign that someone else is invested in your development and your growth journey. It means that people actually care about seeing you succeed. But of course, feedback needs to be delivered effectively for it to serve its purpose. 

3 examples of positive interview feedback 

  • Example A: You did a wonderful job showcasing your technical skills. In your work sample, you showed that you have the skill set to navigate the types of problems that we’re asking this role to help solve. 
  • Example B: Your communication skills are great. You were able to clearly articulate your contributions and past work experience. Because your communication was clear, it was easy to see how your skills would translate into this role. 
  • Example C: It’s clear you’ve had some practice balancing priorities. In your response to the question about decision-making, you walked us through how your thought process well. Great work. 

3 examples of constructive interview feedback 

  • Example A: Your body language felt closed off. Some team members couldn’t tell if you were engaged or not because of a lack of eye contact. For your next interview, try maintaining eye contact. It’ll help show your confidence, too. 
  • Example B: For future interviews, it’s always good to follow the STAR model in your responses. It helps to provide specific answers with clear results so the team can better understand your contributions. 
  • Example C: The interview ended 10 minutes earlier than expected. We always leave that time to make sure candidates have creative interview questions to ask the panel. Make sure you’re doing ample research to help form some good questions. We love when candidates ask about the company culture, management style, and the details of the role. 

interview-feedback-two-colleagues-interviewing

How to standardize your interview feedback

Unconscious bias is important to address in your interview process.  Inclusive hiring begins with stripping away implicit bias that can bleed into how we evaluate talent. 

In order to standardize your interview feedback, you need to standardize your interviews. Think about using these five key components to keep bias out of your interviews

  • Stick to a structured and objective interview method, like behavioral-based interviews 
  • Pose the same set of interview questions to all candidates 
  • Assess candidates on soft skills and hard skills (think: technical skills, communication, collaboration, growth mindset, and more) 
  • Use sample tests, projects, or writing exercises to help evaluate fit for the role 
  • Compare candidate responses horizontally 

Once you’ve standardized your interview, you can standardize how you’re gathering your interview feedback. 

For example, let’s say you use a rating system or scorecard (like 1-10) to help evaluate interviews. Assess the feedback from all interviewers objectively and start to gather common themes. 

Let’s say that Derek interviewed for a customer support position in your company. You’ve asked your interviewers to rate Derek’s interview performance on a scale of 1-10. Just going through his behavioral-based interview alone, you start to assess Derek’s performance. 

You notice that on average, he scored around 7.5. You dig into the data a little deeper and discover something. Derek’s “lower” ratings all revolve around technical questions, like familiarity with certain software. However, Derek rated highly in questions around taking initiative, growth mindset, and problem-solving. 

You’re pretty confident, based on the data you’ve gathered, that Derek could learn the systems pretty well. He just didn’t articulate it very well in the interview process. Based on the data you’ve gathered, you feel confident in extending a job offer.

You offer Derek positive feedback about his interview and what he scored well on. You also relayed that Derek could work on communicating how his skills translate better. His skill sets were there — he just needed to improve how he communicated them. 

How to share interview feedback internally

This is a tricky subject because it depends on how your talent acquisition or HR teams run. 

Oftentimes, it comes down to your organization’s human resource management strategy. What tools are they using to help communicate internally? What does the recruiting process look like? In what ways are teams communicating with one another outside of inserting feedback into an applicant tracking system? 

At BetterUp, we put together an interview panel. The hiring manager takes the lead in putting together an interview kit. In this kit, each interview focuses on an area based on the desired job description requirements. This document essentially serves as the scorecard (or rating system) that we later see in our recruiting tool. 

Once everyone completes their interview, they’re asked to complete their scorecard in the rating system. There’s a level of rigor in how detailed and how much evidence we put into the scorecards, with inclusive hiring at the forefront. 

The hiring manager reviews all scorecards and the recruiter hosts a debrief with the interview panel. In this debrief, each interviewer shares their impressions. This includes concerns, concrete examples, and digging into clarifying questions. 

From there, we make the decision whether or not to move forward with the candidate. The hiring manager, like my manager, touched base with me throughout the interview process. She even helped provide feedback heading into executive interviews, which was extremely helpful. 

Here are eight things we recommend when sharing interview feedback internally: 

  • Make sure all interviewers are provided with the same questions or prompts about the candidate’s interview 
  • Request interview feedback within 24-48 hours of the candidate interviewing 
  • Record the interview feedback with written documentation from each interviewer 
  • Gather written feedback in one place (i.e. applicant tracking system, HR software, or some other type of record) 
  • Follow up with interviewer’s feedback individually as needed 
  • Use a rating system or scale to help keep interview feedback objective and data-driven 
  • Ask for positive feedback as well as constructive feedback 
  • Ask for specific examples of feedback (i.e. what about the communication skills were not up to par?) 

interview-feedback-person-waiting-for-interview

How to deliver interview feedback to a candidate

At the end of the day, delivery is everything. You may have the best message in the world but without proper delivery, it could land flat. 

So when it comes to delivering interview feedback to a candidate, it takes care. Here are seven best practices to keep in mind: 

  • Lead with empathy and care. Your candidates have invested a lot in the interview process. Lead with empathy, compassion, and care. 
  • Make sure you reiterate your purpose for sharing feedback. Feedback can be hard to receive. Make sure you share why you’re sharing feedback — and share the positive feedback, too. Reiterate that you care about their growth, development, and future. 
  • Be clear and direct in your communication. Roundabout feedback is frustrating and confusing. Be clear and direct (while being kind) so the message is received. 
  • If possible, talk live. We know recruiters are busy. But if possible, talk to the candidate live. It’s always better to discuss constructive feedback — especially if it’s a final round rejection — on the phone. 
  • Avoid comparing to other candidates. Nobody likes being compared to another person. Keep the focus on the candidate and the open position. 
  • Provide interview tips to rejected candidates. Share tips! This shows that you’re invested in their success regardless of where they land. 
  • Ask for candidate feedback, too. Feedback is a two-way street. Ask the candidate for feedback on their experience. It can help build trust and shows that you value their perspective, too. 

Start giving effective feedback 

At BetterUp, we believe that feedback can be the key to your organization’s success. 

Whether it’s a part of building your employer brand or building solid relationships, it’s important. But feedback isn’t always easy to give. It helps to have a coach help guide your workforce through giving effective feedback — and learning how to receive it, too. 

Think about ways you can use BetterUp to help create a feedback culture in your workplace. With the power of feedback, you can tap into your workforce’s full potential.

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Published July 28, 2022

Madeline Miles

Madeline is a writer, communicator, and storyteller who is passionate about using words to help drive positive change. She holds a bachelor's in English Creative Writing and Communication Studies and lives in Denver, Colorado. In her spare time, she's usually somewhere outside (preferably in the mountains) — and enjoys poetry and fiction.

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