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Why do employers hate to give feedback to applicants?
March 13, 2020 at 4:33:44 PM EDT   By Mike Russiello

Feeback

I've been involved with the assessment industry for more than 20 years. During that time I've learned that most employers withhold the results of their hiring decision-making process from applicants.

If you're hired you don't care. If you're rejected, however, you are wished the best of luck in your career search and bid adieu.

This is and has traditionally been considered the safest and most expedient approach. The thinking goes that it's best to not share information that, at best, causes you to spend time elaborating on your negative decision, and, at worst, could land you in court.

Certainly, it makes sense not to expose your company to legal challenges if you can avoid them. Still, as with many conventions inherited from the past, it may be time to challenge at least a part of the status quo as obsolete, 20th century thinking.

The problem is that a curt, non-informative response to a candidate who has invested significant effort to pursue a position with your company shows a blatant lack of respect for their time. Companies could get away with this last century. However, in an age where individuals are aware they are the key resource for any corporation, and where competition for strong candidates is fierce, such callous treatment by recruiters and the corporations they work for could be highly damaging.

What's the problem with feedback to candidates?

The issue is that hiring decisions are subjective. If they were completely objective, computers would make all new hires. But hiring decisions are made by people.

Once a decision becomes subjective, it is open to challenge and interpretation. And once exposed, a disagreeable decision can be used as the basis of a discrimination complaint. Rather than take the risk of being criticized or even sued for unfair practices, companies elect to withhold information any information at all about the decisions they make. And that means no useful feedback to candidates who are not hired. Hmmmmph...

Is there anything we can do - now?

Yes! We can provide feedback about the less subjective aspects of a hiring process when it is available.

Most candidates are eliminated within a hiring process for simple, straightforward reasons. For example, they may not meet the minimum qualifications for a position - such as having a degree, license, or certification. They may not meet the experience requirements, or may not possess the required skills as demonstrated in a pre-hire assessment. Or perhaps a certain aspect of their personality appears to conflict with the corporate culture, or a background investigation may have uncovered unacceptable aspects of their past.

These factual yet important pieces of information should be shared with them as feedback. There's really no reason why not -- unless you aren't confident that the objective measures you are using are credible. In that case you really shouldn't be using them in the first place.

Credible assessments are based on solid and proven scientific research and practices. There's no reason to hide results behind the proverbial green curtain.

Automated Candidate Feedback Reports

We don't usually use our blog to push our own products and features. However, I want to make an exception in this case. Our company, HR Avatar, is trying to practice what we preach. We've recently released a much enhanced candidate feedback report that can be automatically emailed to applicants when they complete an assessment. Employers can disable this feature, but the default setting is enabled.

The report is configured to provide meaningful feedback to candidates about their score relative to others, including tips and suggestions on how they might be able to improve in the future. While no numeric information is provided, color coding is used to let the candidate know exactly where they stand on each competency. A sample feedback report is available at https://www.hravatar.com/reportfbk.

Candidate feedback reports make up one more facet of a positive candidate experience. Unique today - they are more than likely to be a standard in the years to come.

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