The round peg that still doesn’t fit – The importance of feedback in the recruitment process

Imagine you are looking for someone to fulfil a key position on your team. Maybe you are looking to expand, or perhaps your business has moved in a new direction or similar, and you now need the right person to ensure things continue to develop in the right way.

You find the right person, you interview, and you offer them the position. Everything is great until out of the blue they turn you down. If you are lucky, you have a second candidate in the pipeline, but in most cases, if this scenario happens, it means recruiting for the role again. With such low unemployment at the moment and a widening skills gap in many industries, it is more important than ever to ensure that your recruitment process is effective.

Many businesses have no evaluative feedback process in place

However, many businesses have no evaluative feedback process in place to help them understand why the employee did, or did not, take up the position. It may be as simple as the candidate has re-evaluated the position and decided it isn’t for them, or perhaps their current employer has made them an amazing counter offer. On the other hand, it could be that there is an issue in the recruitment process that caused the rejection. If it is the former, then you can’t do much more than shrug, accept it, and move on.

But if it is the latter, it could have some serious repercussions on your recruitment plans for the future. If you successfully recruit, then there is a very clear benefit to being able to repeat your success and anything that helps you understand how is going to be useful.

Getting reliable feedback

To be fair, it isn’t always easy to obtain reliable feedback from the recruitment process because most of the people involved have a vested interested in only reporting it positively.

No candidate with any common sense would want to say anything bad about the way a prospective employer works. From the other side of the desk, it is very easy and very understandable if someone is reluctant to admit their technique was less than perfect. However, there are some things you can put in place to help gain a little more insight and encourage feedback.

1.    Give to receive. One thing most candidates really appreciate, whether they were successful or not, is some feedback on the outcome. A really honest and positive feeling evaluation of their performance may well encourage them to reciprocate and send you feedback on yours.

2.    Make it easy. Everyone is busy so try using simple numerical responses or ‘very good to very bad’ style feedback ratings on key areas.

3.    Choose your key areas carefully and focus on them as part of your recruitment. Spend a little time working out where you feel your weaknesses and strengths are, and just focus on two or three key ones.  

4.    Don’t wait until the end to gather data. Once the interview process is over, your candidate will be less inclined to spend time on your requests for feedback. Try small bitesize requests throughout the process.

5.    Make it as anonymous as possible. Clearly, this is going to be difficult if you only have a few candidates, but if the selection is wide enough, don’t ask for names or anything else that could identify the person. People will respond far more honestly if they are anonymous.

6.    Get a professional opinion and ask us to help. We have been in recruitment for quite a while, and we know what works and what doesn’t.

Regardless of whether you successfully employ the right person or not, feedback, even if it is negative in content, has a positive in that it helps you develop your process, and in a competitive recruitment market that could be invaluable.

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24Apr2019