Tom Fleet
Tom Fleet

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Calling all Legal Line Managers - How to make interview feedback work for you

Calling all Legal Line Managers - How to make interview feedback work for you

A regular grumble I hear from candidates who have undertaken interviews concerns feedback from the prospective employer. These grumbles might be about the lack of feedback, its generic nature, ‘unfair’ feedback, or the length of time it has taken to be offered. If a person has taken time out of their day (and often booked annual leave), spent time to research your business and role, and put the effort in to attend an interview, it’s surely simple good manners to reciprocate and take time to offer them some constructive feedback. And if you are rude enough not to be interested in good manners, than just think about it on a practical level – you may not have wanted to hire that individual, but you might want to hire their colleague. Make sure each rejected candidate has a good holistic experience of their interaction with your business.

So what action should you be taking to facilitate the feedback process, to help you with your decision making, and to give everyone a good positive opinion of your company?

Interview performance measurement

I’d suggest ensuring that instead of just using your ‘gut feel’ you have scoring system where you assess the various competencies needed for this role, and tick them off as you go through the interview. You could draw up a simple score card. Creating a simple system to rate a candidate’s abilities, skills and behaviour will help you take away more thorough information and make for easier direct comparison with others, more efficiently than scrawls in the margin of a cv. Gut feel, is of course very useful for determining who you think would be a good fit within your team, but technical skills measurement needs more than this.


Keep momentum in the process. Always compile and summarise your notes immediately afterwards. Don’t let the important smaller details be forgotten in the rush to get back to the day job. And keep that momentum in feeding back to the recruiter / candidate. At the end of the interview, I would suggest giving an overview of the likely timescale for feedback to be offered, and, of course, sticking to those timescales.

If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all

But you should be able to say something surely? I don’t mean woolly platitudes, I mean constructive criticism. Feedback is supposed to relay how a person has performed, and whilst there is no point in ripping someone’s performance to bits just to be honest, there is equally no point in avoiding the hard truth of a poor performance.. The feedback should be constructive and help the applicant with any ‘learns’ to take away from the process. Don’t be afraid to flag personal points as well as technical (e.g. weak handshake, scruffy attire, poor eye contact). Using examples is helpful here.

Finish positively

Finally, remember this. If the individual has a positive experience with your business, even if you decide not to hire them for this role, you may have a more suitable position for them in the future. Even if not, you’ll want that applicant to tell all their friends what a great company yours is. In my experience, even ‘bad’ feedback is welcomed by most individuals, if it is delivered with good intentions, and you will be appreciated for your honesty.

You have an opportunity to use well thought out and delivered feedback to motivate good prospective applicants, and to generate a positive vibe about your organisation as an ‘employer of choice’ in a competitive market place. Feel free to contact me with feedback about this short article. Be constructive please…

For more information contact Tom Fleet at BCL Legal.

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