Giving Candidate Feedback

Profile for Rob Scott, Managing Director of Aaron Wallis Sales Recruitment

 Common courtesy goes a long way in business. There are always things you don’t have to do, such as providing unsuccessful candidates with feedback, but not doing so is both ‘poor form’ and can very quickly give you a bad reputation as an employer and harm your brand.

One of the things that nobody likes doing, but do it you must, is giving candidate feedback to people you have interviewed but who will not be progressing further down the road to employment with you.

Why you must give candidate feedback

It might seem a chore, even be uncomfortable for some, and you might well have more important things to be getting on with, but giving candidate feedback is an essential aspect of the recruitment process.

Perhaps putting yourself in the shoes of the rejected candidate will help? That person has taken the time and spent a lot of energy applying for your job. They have researched your business, the role, probably rehearsed answers to your questions, completed application forms, and possibly even have undertaken psychometrics and skills tests.

Furthermore, they’ve likely had to take time off their present job to come and see you and paid money for transport as well!

The very least you can do is to take two minutes of your day and extend the courtesy of telling them why they have, in this instance, failed. They’ll feel disappointed enough as it is without the snub of never hearing from you again.

Constructive feedback will help them understand how they can improve their chances of success in future interviews elsewhere. And who knows – one day you might want to hire this person for a different role, or they may be interviewing you (it has happened)!

What methods should you use to deliver candidate feedback?

Of course, if your hiring needs are taken care of by a recruitment specialist like Aaron Wallis, you won’t need to give candidate feedback. The agency will do all that leg-work for you unless you choose to do so yourself.

There are the usual ways to communicate your feedback: letter, email or a phone call. Your feedback rather depends on the stage of the recruitment process that your candidate failed. If he or she didn’t even make it to an interview and you rejected them on the basis of an application form, LinkedIn profile, or a CV, then a standard letter might be suitable.  Of course, you can tweak to the circumstances and the individual (perhaps they were missing one skill or necessary qualification). Crafting a rejection letter is simple and can save you a lot of time while still serving its purpose.

You can also use email to communicate the reasons for rejection, but these are impersonal, and the nature of a short email can be interpreted wrongly. An email can be sent in seconds so a letter feels far more worthy; it communicates that you’ve taken the time to write, print, and post it.

A phone call is by far the best way to give feedback, especially to candidates who had reached the interview stage. It’s personal; it shows you care, and, when done well, it will help the rejected candidate and protect your business.

How to give candidate feedback successfully

What a candidate wants to hear is why they won’t be getting the job. You must be honest and highlight the areas of concern that ultimately led to someone else getting the position.

You can only do this with any sense of sincerity if you made effective notes during the interview. Hopefully, you take notes already but get into the habit of making bullet points straight after the meeting, so you’ve got a ready-made document to refer to when calling the candidate with feedback.

Be careful not only to list what went wrong, or concentrate solely on the candidate’s shortcomings. Instead, make your feedback a mix of what was good and not so good; what you felt went well in the interview and what was less successful. In doing so, you might suggest ways the candidate can improve at future interviews.

Far from feeling angry or dejected, the majority of rejected candidates appreciate good feedback. Attending interviews is stressful and nerve-wracking for many people, so getting useful advice from recruiters is well received and keeps them motivated to succeed next time.

Top 20 tips for providing feedback to candidates

  1. Provide the feedback as quickly as you can after the interview;
  2. While it is very British to start a conversation with ‘How are you?’, try not to. Potentially you are about to ruin their day. Instead, start with ’Thanks for meeting with me yesterday, but I’m afraid that I am calling with bad news’;
  3. Explain that a decision has been made and ask whether they would like to hear feedback (NB many candidates do not want feedback and simply want to move on);
  4. Plan the call beforehand with key objective bullet points;
  5. Keep it positive, constructive and to the point;
  6. Follow the agenda of ‘thank you for your time in attending – I’m afraid that it is a ‘no’ – detail what went well and what could have been better – ultimately, why they were unsuccessful and finish on advice for the future, then thanks again’;
  7. Don’t undermine the candidate’s confidence and be tactful with the language that you use; 
  8. Be encouraging when you can and provide positive, beneficial feedback so that the candidate can develop their interview skills for the future;
  9. Unless you mean it, don’t say that you will keep their CV on file or give them hope with language such as ‘we’ll be looking to hire again in a few months and will contact you then’;
  10. Make notes in every interview and use objective criteria as to why they were unsuccessful.  Ideally, score against competencies and explain that regrettably other applicants provided greater evidence in their answers and therefore overall scored higher;
  11. If you interviewed with a colleague, ask for their objective thoughts and weave this into your feedback;
  12. While valid to mention experience and attributes where the successful candidate was more suitable be aware of undermining the candidate’s confidence.  If it was a group interview session try not to confirm specifically the successful candidate;
  13. Try not to use the comment ‘we thought that the chosen candidate was a better cultural fit for our business’; this can be both misconstrued and is subjective;
  14. Give them something back – for instance, you could offer to pay their travel expenses, provide a small thank-you gesture for attending and if you have used psychometric personality questionnaires, then provide them with a copy;
  15. Provide a balance of positive and negative feedback and use a ‘sandwich technique’ to ensure that you finish on a positive;
  16. Always say thank you for all the effort they made in being part of your recruitment process;
  17. Try and avoid the call being at all confrontational.  Stay calm, considered and do your utmost to stop it becoming a ‘debate’ between yourself and the candidate. Reiterate that you hear what they are saying but a decision has been made;
  18. Be very, very aware of being discriminatory and keep your personal bias to yourself.  In particular on things like clothes, hair, tattoos, perfume/aftershave, jewellery; 
  19. While most employers will look at a candidate’s social media profiles, never, ever admit to what you viewed formed part of your decision.  In fact, never admit to looking at any candidate’s social media profile, except perhaps LinkedIn;
  20. As with most things in business, keep it simple.


Giving feedback to safeguard your brand reputation

Although it may not seem important at the time, failing to give feedback will harm your reputation and therefore your brand over time, particularly in the Glassdoor era. Even rejected candidates will recommend your company, perhaps to a future star recruit or customer, if they’ve had successful feedback.

It’s all part of being communicative, open, and honest, something you’re hopefully doing as a matter of course with your staff, customers, and suppliers – so why not with rejected candidates?

Think about the times you have made an inquiry to a business but heard nothing back. What’s your impression of that business? Not very good, undoubtedly, and the chances are you won’t bother with them again. The principle is the same for potential recruits.

And finally

Don’t ever take anyone for granted. Extend the courtesy of feedback to others, just as you’d like to receive it yourself. Once you start giving feedback, you’ll get better at it.

The truth is, the vast majority will appreciate it, be grateful and listen intently. Very few will challenge you or be angry and rude. And the one or two who do? Well, they’ve just confirmed your decision was right in not to hire them!






Navigate our other Employers Advice categories

by clicking the following icons:

Recruitment Planning

Interview Best Practice

Employer Interview Advice

Employer Interview Advice


Recruit Sales Staff



Milton Keynes
01908 061 400


01543 227973

Understood the type of person we were looking for and good follow ups - not too frequent.

Managing Director, bigHead Bonding Fasteners Ltd

I just wanted to thank you for your help with our recruitment process which went very smoothly and has – we hope – found us just the person for the job!

Managing Director, Citrefine International Ltd

In an industry where people over promise and under deliver, Rob and his teams have consistently provided a high-quality service. It is great to deal with someone that has an excellent understanding of UK industry, and a passion for sales.

Sales Manager, TR Fasteners

Giles is highly professional and was a pleasure to work with. He achieves excellent results through his personable skills and tenacity. I have no hesitation in recommending Giles to anyone who considers employing his services.

Commercial Director, G4S Government & Outsourcing Solutions

Rob’s knowledge of the recruitment industry and his thoughts and how to make it better for his clients have always been eye opening. I would recommend Rob to anybody who is looking for a professional, knowledgeable and flexible recruitment specialist.

CEO, Friday Ad Online Services

I have used Aaron Wallis to fill a number of our Sales Development Manager roles and I have found them to provide a very professional service. I will use their services again in future recruitment campaigns.

HR Business Partner, Greene King

I have always found Rob to be very knowledgeable about our industry sector, and it is refreshing to see after all of these years that Rob continues to quickly and accurately understand my requirements.

HR and General Manager, THK

I really liked the YouTube presentations which made the service seem both simple and accessible. The company came to see me, and my management team, at short notice to present their service and I liked the support and advice that I received about maximising the results from the applicant.

Managing Director, Leisuresec plc

We were impressed not only by the quality of candidates you found for us but also the level of information, preparation and qualification you put into the process. You continually kept us informed of each person’s feelings about the process, which is very important but often overlooked. I am looking forward to working with your company again in the future.

Commercial Director, Incentive Facilities Management

I found Aaron Wallis to be very professional and efficient, taking time to understand the role and the type of candidate we were looking for. The candidates they put forward met our criteria and were of a high standard. The service they provided was exemplary and I would have no hesitation in recommending them, and will certainly consider using them again in the future.

HR Assistant, Fischer Connectors Ltd

Giles Phillips is a rare find in the minefield of sales recruitment; an honest and thoughtful recruiter who considers the needs of both the client AND the candidate to create perfect role matches. I look forward to working with him again in the future.

Marketing Director, City of London Police

Rob is a true recruitment professional that goes the extra mile that I have never experienced from any other recruitment agency before. If you need sales people call Rob or someone in his team, as they really are experts in sales recruitment.

Sales Director, Inside Business

We appointed Aaron Wallis in February and the successful candidate, out of the six which Aaron Wallis introduced, was able to join Alphametrics before the end of April. The whole process took less than three months. I would recommend Aaron Wallis’ services to others without hesitation.

Chief Financial Officer, Alphametrics

Since joining DSGi, Rob has been a supplier of permanent staff and has performed to an extremely high standard, successfully filling 98% of roles he has worked on. If anyone is looking for a good sales and marketing based consultancy with an informal yet professional approach, I would recommend Rob.

Senior Recruitment Consultant, DSG International

Aaron Wallis has continuously provided us with suitable candidates that have been proactively sourced. Having used countless recruitment companies, Aaron Wallis are the only company that I can count on to deliver.

Managing Director, JARK Healthcare Recruitment

Find out more >


Fantastic service, helped me find my ideal job quickly and smoothly. Would highly recommend them

C. Caine, Candidate

Perfect from start to finish. Simon deserves a shout out. Best recruiter there is. If you need a job, this guy will get you one. He's like the super man of recruiters. Top man, can't recommend him enough.

M. Crisp, Candidate

Very good advice and support was given during the course of the interviewing process. Potential job seekers would be well advised to use this company whilst looking for their new career.

R. Speakman, Candidate

I can honestly say that the time and expertise you gave me was way beyond any other recruitment consultant I dealt with. You are a rarity in your industry.

S. Akers, Candidate

Really excellent experience dealing with Aaron Wallis. Liam Oakes who helped me get a great job was brilliant. Kept me up to date during the process and offered great help and advice, and a thoroughly nice guy. Highly recommended!

J. Hathaway, Candidate

Aaron Wallis have provided me with an excellent service, Giles went out of his way to help me preparing for my interview and supported me through all the processes. If you need an agency to give you a fully professional and consultative approach to finding you a new career move, the Aaron Wallis can certainly provide this for you.

D. Richards, Candidate

A great recruitment company to work with. Excellent experience with Aaron Wallis through the entire recruitment process. The team was really professional and extremely helpful. Darren was a pleasure to work with. He was friendly, supportive and gave me great advice. Thank you very much!

A. Bauchet, Candidate

Excellent experience from first contact to ultimately securing a suitable placement. Giles looked after me in a very professional and friendly manner. He used his expertise and experience to ensure I was put forward for the most suitable positions for my skill set and found me a new role very quickly. I can't recommend Aaron Wallis Sales Recruitment highly enough.

M. Green, Candidate

Aaron Wallis Sales Recruitment are a very friendly and professional recruitment organisation who listen to your needs, work with you and act on your behalf which sets them apart from many of their competitors who in my experience are willing to throw anything at you. We discussed my history, my preferences and my wishes - one opportunity was introduced. It was perfect. I start at the end of June.

R. Buckley, Candidate

Aaron Wallis is an outstanding recruitment agency specialising in high calibre sales positions. I was working directly with Darren Dawrance who went above and beyond my expectations in sourcing me my perfect role. I was kept in regular communication with Darren and he worked extremely hard to secure my dream job. Highly recommended and Thanks Darren for all your expertise and hard work.

R. Sealy, Candidate

Aaron Wallis helped me secure a position I really wanted. Giles saught to keep me updated with all the details preceding interviews and after with feedback. I would highly recommend Giles and Aaron Wallis Sales Recruitment.

L. Taylor, Candidate

Aaron Wallis (and in particular Rob Scott) have been fantastic throughout the recruitment process, and even a few months down the line, still continues to care. Rob clearly cares about each individual and has a wealth of knowledge and expertise, which shows in the work he does. Each candidate is not just a number, and the support received from Aaron Wallis has helped me get a career which I truly enjoy.

M. White, Candidate

Excellent service, very professional and friendly, would and have, recommended Aaron Wallis.

E. Heley, Candidate

Good swift process with Aaron Wallis, informative regarding the role and the process was moved at a good pace with healthy interaction. Would recommend them to anyone pursuing a change.

S. Bartlett, Candidate

I've had a really good experience working with Giles Phillips at Aaron Wallis. From initial contact to the finer details of securing the job, he has been very professional and a pleasure to work with.

M. Shutt, Candidate

Find out more >

About our service to candidates

Copyright | Disclaimer | Site Map | Terms of Use | Privacy & Cookies Policy © 2022 Aaron Wallis Recruitment and Training Limited. All Rights Reserved. Registered in England No. 6356563.

Our core services:  Sales Recruitment  |  Marketing Recruitment