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Hiring Advice Hiring process Best practice for interview feedback – and why ghosting is a bad idea
Best practice for interview feedback – and why ghosting is a bad idea

Best practice for interview feedback – and why ghosting is a bad idea

Nobody likes to be left waiting for an answer. When a person has put in hours of hard work and preparation – research, resumé writing, an application letter, phone screening, maybe even an in-person interview – hearing nothing back can be confusing and even distressing.

Unfortunately, ghosting, the dropping of all forms of communication without warning, is still common in the recruitment process. SEEK research shows that 78% of jobseekers say at least one potential employer has ghosted them.

While it can be disappointing news for candidates, ghosting can also put you in a bad light. There is nothing more disrespectful than the concept of ignoring an expectant candidate, much less anyone. It damages your brand since it creates a negative impression on the jobseeker's experience. It also dishonours the recruitment process.

An official rejection, as jarring as it sounds, makes your organisation look more professional. A final message or email could also prevent burnt bridges with the candidate.

Why you shouldn't ghost candidates

Everyone’s busy, and getting back to unsuccessful candidates can take a backseat when you’ve got your successful candidate sorted and a pile of other work to get on with. Almost half of hirers (48%) say their main reason for not responding is that they have too many candidates to respond to individually – after all, 72% of job applications in Malaysia are rejected. Moreover, 38% say they lack the systems and processes to respond.

Closing the feedback loop for candidates who have invested time and energy in the application process is essential. So, you have to put in the time, too. It’s a matter of courtesy and respect. Besides, job-hunting can be a harrowing experience for some jobseekers, so responding is an empathetic part of the interaction.

Furthermore, you have to consider the digital environment. Ghosting a candidate has the potential to harm their perception of your agency, your client, and its brand, which can ultimately make it harder to attract and retain top talent in the future, particularly in an age where jobseekers can easily share their bad experiences (such as poor impressions of a company's hiring procedure) with friends and colleagues. You can always learn to manage negative reviews, but avoid them as much as possible.

Can you make the feedback process easier?

Hiring is all about personal relationships, so while you can fall back on some protocols to manage the process, some aspects must remain personal. If you contact a candidate for a phone screening or an interview, they deserve a phone call with feedback.

In the event that a candidate is deemed unsuitable earlier in the process – that is, immediately after submitting an application – you can trigger a pre-filled rejection email. It is a commonly adopted approach in recruitment as it is more efficient than personally reaching out to every individual who submits a CV.

Is feedback really necessary?

With some jobs attracting dozens of candidates, it’s not practical to offer feedback to everyone, but, as a rule of thumb, it’s important to always provide personalised feedback to candidates who have progressed beyond the first stage of the process, which may be after an initial phone call or first interview.

It can help the candidate to develop professionally and can also help to maintain a positive relationship with your business – and you never know when your paths may cross again.

Not all feedback is created equal, though. Deliver your comments and suggestions for improvement constructively and with the expectation that the candidate can use the feedback to reflect on it in a way that helps them move forward. Check out these ways to craft an encouraging rejection message for unsuccessful contenders.

Hirers have the duty to provide candidates with kind and practical feedback, even if your assessment isn’t always easy to hear. The "feedback sandwich" (starting with positive feedback, sharing ways to improve, and then finishing with more positive feedback) is a simple yet effective way to do this.

Best practice for feedback

Most candidates (74%) expect to hear something within a week of an interview, but your honesty is essential during the process, too.

Send an email to active applicants if the process is dragging out longer than anticipated (which can happen). Let them know that you're still reviewing resumes and that they're still up for consideration. Explain that the process is taking a little longer for whatever reason.

Communicating the outcome fast is best for everyone. After all, if you're weighing a lot of talent, you can bet that those potential hires are also juggling other opportunities. For this reason, you have to give your jobseekers closure. The best practice is for hiring managers and recruiters to provide such feedback within 24 hours of the interview, typically via a phone call.

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