Interview Follow up conversation on ipad

Following Up After the Interview-What Great Employers Do

In this guest blog, Beverly Hinson of SuccessWorks addresses the issue of the interview follow-up with some guidance for employers. Consider these thoughts if you are interested in building a reputation for treating candidates with respect.

Who Is Responsible for Following Up?

When we talk about following up after the interview, usually, it is related to coaching candidates on how and when to follow up. Unfortunately, few hiring managers think about having follow-up conversations with candidates who were not selected.   I’m sure there are many legitimate reasons for them to avoid this conversation. After all, isn’t it the job of the recruiters or HR to give candidates “bad” news? Officially, yes. The HR team will typically deliver the formal notice that a candidate is no longer in the running for the position. Great interviewers, however, understand the value of sharing insights with candidates who were not selected.

If you are working with an outside recruiting firm like Equiliem, you can flow that feedback back to your contact at the firm. Passing along legitimate reasons that candidates are not selected puts the firm’s recruiter in a position to coach, support, and direct them to more suitable roles.

Impact on the Candidate

The absence of feedback can shatter the confidence of many job seekers who just opened themselves up to be “judged” by the interview team. Imagine going to an interview and feeling like you did well. Perhaps the hiring manager even indicated you were the top candidate. And then… silence. You never received the expected call offering the job, and even worse, you never received any communication. You’re left wondering, “What happened? Did someone not like me? Were my skills not up to par? Did I do something wrong in the interview?”

How nice would it have been if the hiring manager had given you a quick call to fill you in on the situation? It could be an internal candidate who came forward and was given the opportunity. Another possibility is that you may have been one of the best. For example, you may have checked every box of what they required, while another candidate equally met the requirements but had a little something extra to offer (e.g., preferred skills and experiences). Left in the dark, candidates must decide what went wrong, which can take many different paths. One response is to believe they dodged the bullet and avoided joining a “bad” company.  On the other end of the spectrum, some candidates will experience depression and lose confidence, especially when multiple job interviews have the same outcome.

Building Trust through Transparency

Whether we believe a candidate is “the” right person for the job or not, having a transparent interview process builds trust. If we share that we hope to have a decision in a few days or a few weeks, we create the expectation that job seekers will learn the outcome quickly. Too often, our interview process doesn’t go according to plan. Hiring managers get sick. Decisions get delayed, and business changes occur. When we have candidates waiting in the wings, we should give them a courtesy call. Or, at the very least, send them an email to help manage their expectations. Remember, we are trying to “wow” them into coming to work with us just as much as they are trying to “wow” us to get the job.

Keeping Top Candidates on the Hook

What if you’ve made a job offer to another candidate but are uncertain if they will take the job? You are waiting a few days to make sure they accept the offer before informing your other candidates– in case you need to go to the next best candidate on the list. Many leaders believe that if the candidate is interested, they will take the job even if the offer comes two weeks later than promised. Not only is that a flawed assumption, especially in this labor market where the labor pool is short of candidates, but it’s also just poor manners.

Think about it. If you offered the candidate the job and they promised to give you an answer in three days, would you wait for them another three or four days? What if they never communicated that they needed more time for the decision? I highly doubt many leaders would continue to wait. Likely we would assume our prospect has poor communication skills, and we would withdraw the job offer very quickly.

Honest Follow-up Shows You Care

Sure, you may not want to share the whole story, but nothing says you can’t still be honest. Candidates need to hear if it is over or if they still might be in the running. It only takes a few moments to send them a note. Let them know the process is taking a bit longer than expected and that you hope they are still interested. You’re not making promises of a job offer, but you are not leaving them with a void of information either.

The Gift of Feedback

Even when hiring managers do an excellent job of following up with candidates who are top of the list, they often fail to do any follow-up with those that aren’t right for the job. Maybe the candidate was too nervous. They couldn’t think of examples. Or perhaps they didn’t have the level of skills and experience needed for success. What a gift it would be if every hiring manager would take the time to provide feedback to candidates who participated in a phone, virtual, or in-person interview. If you take the time to give solid, constructive feedback to a candidate, you will display leadership excellence and be an exceptional representative of the company’s brand and culture!

Focus Feedback on Objective Criteria

Will human resources support you in having that conversation as a leader? Most HR leaders would applaud you for doing so. They mainly care that decisions are based on objective criteria and comply with EEOC and other hiring laws. The decision is explainable if you choose the best-qualified person based on bona fide requirements. If you can’t explain it, you may want to revisit your candidate evaluations to ensure you are making an objective decision. Remember, your feedback aims to provide insights into improvement opportunities. You want to help the person better prepare for their next opportunity.

Next time you interview, I highly encourage you to consider your reputation as a leader and that of the organization. Also, think about the impression you leave with the candidates you want to hire or those who didn’t quite fit. You never know when you may have an opportunity to interview the candidate again. How valuable would it be to evaluate their ability to receive feedback, make the necessary adjustments, and achieve the goals? I’d say, “It’s priceless!”

About Beverly Hinson

Beverly Hinson is a certified coach and trainer specializing in leadership, presentation, facilitation, interviewing prep, and interviewer training.  She has over 20 years of experience as a learning and development leader for billion-dollar organizations. She has served large and small entities in various industries for more than 30 years, supporting leaders and individuals on their paths to success.

About Equiliem

Equiliem ( believes in empowering success. It’s our job to cultivate relationships that connect people and employers in a way that is inclusive, intelligent, and allows both to thrive. 

Across the U.S., leading companies in healthcare, government, light industrial manufacturing, professional services, and energy rely on us for their workforce solutions. Our recruiting and HR services include contract and direct hire staffing, Payrolling/EOR, Independent Contractor Compliance, and Managed Services.

Since 1995, we’ve helped shape our industry. Today, we continue to research, ask questions, and continuously enhance the candidate journey and client experience.