Nicholas Harrison, of the Career Transition Consulting Group and MD of the charity Soldier On! was recently surprised by one company’s failure to provide interview feedback to a candidate. He had never come across this practice before but since this experience he has been told it is not unheard of.
This specific interview process may, in hindsight, have provided an indication that this was to be no ‘normal’ recruitment process, certainly one that Nicholas had rarely come across. Having seen a vacancy advertised, the candidate contacted the head of HR, according to the instructions. Several weeks passed and the candidate never received acknowledgement, despite chasing, that his CV and covering letter had arrived safely. (He had driven to the office to drop it off and asked for it to be given to the head of HR). Four weeks later he was invited, on a bank holiday Saturday, to meet two Directors, not for a formal interview but to have an initial conversation in appreciation of the delay the candidate had faced. The Directors were 40 minutes late and explained that they had another appointment to get to so they had very little time.
“Our students work hard”, Nicholas explains, “to appreciate what skills and personal capabilities they possess. They research, in-depth, the roles they are applying for and only apply for roles that have a high potential to have the right ‘fit’. In other words they are not wasting anyone’s time.”
After a twenty minute conversation the Directors closed the meeting and left for their next appointment. The candidate sent them both a letter thanking them for their time and saying that he would very much like to be considered for a formal interview. This would, he wrote, allow him the opportunity to discuss in detail his suitability.
A few days later the candidate received an email saying that he would not be considered for a formal interview as he did not possess the desired ‘skills’.
“My initial thought”, says Nicholas “is that his CV clearly demonstrated what his skills are, how he had used his skills in previous roles, and what potential existed to use these skills in this particular role. Surely, his lack of suitable skills would have been identified from his CV. Perhaps he just simply wasn’t the right person for the job, this is entirely understandable, but I encouraged him to ask for feedback, not to ask simply why he had not been offered the job but to ask if they could elaborate on what skills they felt he did not have”.
Nicholas continues to explain that feedback from a potential employer is so important to a job-seeker. His students practice interviewing over and over again so that they comfortably and clearly articulate their suitability and desire for the role. Where they are unsuccessful it is expected that applicants are disengaged in a professional and sensitive manner. It is not about frustration or anger at having not got the role, it is about learning how you come across in an interview, what you failed to discuss, where you could have added value to the employer and where you would not. This feedback allows the job-seeker to continue to learn and narrow down their search to where they stand the best chance of success. It is an integral part of finding the right role and Nicholas was shocked to hear that the company in question have a policy to never give interview feedback. Despite being asked for more information, which not every candidate will do, the company flatly refused.
Where a business receives many applications for a vacancy it is entirely understandable that there is not enough time for each applicant to receive a reason why they are not progressing. However, ‘Resourcing’ is all about people and should be, according to Nicholas, an environment that recognises the individual person and demonstrates good communication. On this occasion, it was fed back to the candidate, from another senior member of staff in the company that they were looking for someone who ‘had their company in their DNA’. . “Whatever this means…” says Nicholas, “in any event, is having something in your DNA a skill?”
The message Nicholas would like to pass on is that he knows there are many companies and individual resourcing teams that ensure job-seekers are handled in a courteous and professional manner. These organisations should be applauded for they contribute to a job-seeker’s ability to focus on what is right for them. Constructive feedback is what allows individuals, who have been turned down for a job, to no longer focus on the sad emotion of ‘rejection’ but more on the positive and practical emotion and progression of getting it right the next time.
Nicholas concludes: “Many candidates work extremely hard to prepare for interviews and if your business has a policy of not providing feedback, why not challenge this and ensure that even the smallest but sensible piece of feedback can go a long way to ensuring the good name of your resourcing team”.
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