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Published: 4 month

Why do employers skimp on interview feedback?

At the end of the interview, is it a good idea to ask the candidate how they saw their performance and what their chances are? If the answer is no, do you have the right to know why you didn't pass and can you benefit from the information given? The bbc.com report shows why it's not worth giving feedback from the employer's point of view. It is also questionable whether, objectively speaking, it can be done at all.

Miért kell fukarkodni az állásinterjú utáni visszajelzésekkel?-

Allison Hunter, photographer, applied for a job interview in August 2023 to photograph the collections of a historical archive. At the end of the interview, she asked for feedback from the hiring committee, asking how she compared to other applicants? But this bold move was not well received. \"Shaming is a bit of an overstatement, but let's just say I was reprimanded for asking the question,\" says Hunter, who lives in New York. \"We can't say that's true,\" he recalls the reaction of the interviewers and immediately regretted asking the question, which he believes may have played a role in his not getting the job. He never found out exactly why, but he suspects that the interest in feedback made things worse for him.

Hunter has asked similar questions before. She says it's generally the case that interviewers are surprised by this, and if they do give some feedback, it's usually vague and lacking in specifics. "It's frustrating because when you're trying to get a job, any information can be helpful."

Don't tell me...

Lack of time and capacity can be one of the reasons for the lack of feedback, at least in the initial application phase, says James Hudson, a 20-year veteran of corporate recruitment who has worked for Nike, Levi Strauss and Forever 21, among others. Often, there are simply so many candidates that the recruiter can't give feedback to everyone.

The Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) estimates that, regardless of industry or company size, the average recruiter handles 10 to 20 job applications at a time. However, it's not uncommon to receive 500 or more applications for corporate job postings through LinkedIn, which publicly tracks the number of applicants through the platform.

At the first stage, automatic rejection emails are common,‖ says Hudson. \The vast majority of applications - about 75 percent - come from people who are not qualified. Then, as the pool of applicants narrows and recruiters deal with fewer and fewer applicants - Hudson says roughly four to six applicants are given the opportunity to interview - interviewers are often unable to provide feedback due to company constraints.

Probably the biggest reason for this is fear of legal risks. In the US and UK, for example, it is illegal to make hiring, firing and promotion decisions based on characteristics such as race, gender, sexual orientation or disability. Many employers do not want to say anything that could be considered discrimination.

Jeff Hirsch, a professor of labour and employment law at the University of North Carolina School of Law, says it is well known in the US that people who get involved in legal disputes over refusal to hire face difficult situations. \"If the feedback contains any suggestion of an unlawful reason for the decision - for example, discrimination - then the employer can be held liable, and without feedback, that almost certainly would not happen,\" he says.

Something that appears to reflect a stereotype about a protected characteristic can put a company at risk, says Llezlie Green, a law professor at Georgetown Law and director of the Civil Justice Clinic. \"Let's say an Asian woman applies for a job interview and the feedback she gets is that they think she wouldn't be agile enough for the job.\" Even if the intent of the comment has nothing to do with the candidate's race or gender, it can be construed as dubious.

It's usually the lawyer or management who prohibits feedback, not the interviewers or hiring managers themselves. Later in the hiring process,‖ says Hudson, ‗the recruiter doesn't give feedback because he's not allowed to, not because he doesn't want to.'

Who gives feedback - and how much?

Feedback is not a no-no everywhere. The marketing technology company HubSpot makes the type of feedback a candidate gets depends on how far they've gotten in the hiring process. For example, after a pre-screening, feedback could relate to a missing qualification. At later stages, it may also relate to the content of the interview itself.

For example, you might get feedback like this:

"You seem to have a very good approach to influencing stakeholders and building relationships, but we missed your attention to detail in structuring project plans," says Becky McCullough, who leads recruitment and talent development at HubSpot.

Asked about the possibility of legal liability, the company said in a statement that ´´Transparency and empathy are two of our core values at HubSpot, and that includes how we treat our candidates. We understand the importance of complying with local labor laws, and we also firmly believe that giving feedback whenever possible is the right thing to do."

But while this approach is rather complicated, candidates seeking feedback may have better luck if they turn to a third party, a recruiting firm.

"It's in the third-party recruiter's best interest to get the candidate as compliant as possible," says Jeffrey Spector, president and co-founder of Karat. Karat is a company that interviews software engineers on behalf of employers. \An agency has money coming in if a candidate is successful, so they have a vested interest in having all the information they need to be successful.

Brad Davis, a 37-year-old account executive in Cincinnati, Ohio, was laid off in November. His previous work experience made him aware that candidates would be frustrated by the lack of feedback, so he decided to offer free mock interviews to people looking for jobs in customer relations while out of work.

Davis held around 70 mock interviews in just four weeks and the idea worked. Since then, LinkedIn has continued to advertise the appointments every Wednesday and the places fill up within minutes. Demand is so high that they've even brought in helpers, so applicants can interview with three "mock interviewers"

This service gives you nothing more than a view of yourself from multiple perspectives, he says. Davis is now starting a company to provide mentoring and coaching to complement the mock interviews.

Similarly, Karat provides free mock interviews through its Brilliant Black Minds program, which provides feedback to computer science students at historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs). The program is not only successful, but it is a developmental opportunity for candidates. The company claims that students who complete three practice interviews - and receive feedback from the interviewer - are six times more likely to get an engineering internship or job.

Popularity contest

Some say that feedback - whether it comes directly from companies or through mock interviews - can improve interview performance and can be the key to a future successful job search. Others are more sceptical about this. Recruitment expert Hudson says there are too many subjective elements in a recruitment interview. The interviewer is trying to get to know another person in 45 minutes. It's even possible that a month later, in the same line-up, the results could be different. He believes that companies are right to be cautious about feedback - many hiring decisions are based on personal preferences rather than objective criteria. It is not a well-measured process that can be set according to stable benchmarks. Rather, it is a popularity contest."


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