Whether a job interview is successful or not, there are certain ways that employers should deliver feedback to candidates. Rejections are difficult but no less important than successful interviews when it comes to giving feedback.

In either situation, interviewers should take the time to respond to candidates and let them know how they did. But what do you say and how do you say it?

In this article, company formation agent, Quality Company Formations, brings their top 6 tips for giving people feedback after an interview. They explain how to manage timescales, how to be constructive and empathetic, and how to protect your company from legal risks.

Respond promptly after an interview

Our first tip for giving candidates feedback after an interview is to respond in a timely manner. If the job advertisement mentions how the interview process will work and gives estimated timeframes, you should stick to them as best you can.

Additionally, if you mention during the interview that you’ll get back to the candidate within a week, for example, you should strive to achieve that deadline.

Remember that the candidate is also interviewing you and your company, assessing whether it is the right fit for them. The process goes both ways and both parties need to be happy with their selections. So, if you say you’ll respond to a candidate by a certain date and fail to do so, it could reflect poorly on your business.

Research conducted by the online job site, Glassdoor, shows that over half of UK applicants say that getting feedback from the company – even if they’re not hired – is the biggest factor contributing to a positive interview process. Regardless of the outcome, it’s important to keep candidates updated.

Granted, delays can happen, and interviewees are aware of that too. You might even find that the applicant will reach out to you for an update if the expected timeframe passes.

If you’re unable to respond in a timely manner, simply reply as soon as you can, acknowledge the late response, and give a reason for it (if possible). The interviewee will appreciate your honesty.

Give personalised feedback

When responding to a candidate after an interview, honesty is key. Try to give personalised feedback that has been tailored to the applicant’s experience with you.

When it comes to rejections, many businesses provide template responses such as “There were other candidates with more relevant experience” or “You didn’t have all the skills we were looking for.” These generic statements are vague and don’t give the applicant any constructive feedback.

Even when making someone an offer, it’s important to acknowledge their individual skills. For instance, rather than saying “We were happy with your interview”, try something like “We were really impressed by your ability to […]” or “Your experience in […] will be really valuable to our company.”

From a business perspective, you may not always have the time to construct a personalised response for every single candidate. This is why many companies opt for blanket responses. However, they are easy for interviewees to spot and, similar to late replies, they can create a negative impression of your business.

To avoid template replies, you should take detailed notes during the interview. Write down the pros and cons of the applicant’s answers and experience and refer to your notes when providing feedback.

Be constructive

Rejecting candidates can be difficult and uncomfortable, but it’s bound to happen, and you should be prepared for that as a business owner. However, when doing so, try to give constructive feedback that could help candidates in future interviews.

Rather than merely explaining why they were unsuccessful, offer guidance on how they can improve. For example, if you found their answers to be too short, you could say “it’d be great if you could expand on your answers and reference the specific skills and experience you possess in that area.”

Maybe they were unfamiliar with some industry terms. In this scenario, you could say “I noticed you were unsure about some of the key industry terms that were discussed in the interview. For this type of role, I’d recommend you research [enter key terms].”

Delivering bad news is never easy, but being constructive and helpful can really soften the blow. The applicant will also appreciate your guidance and the time you’ve taken to provide them with valuable feedback.

Use empathetic language

When providing feedback to unsuccessful candidates after an interview, it can be easy to fall into the wrong tone of voice. It’s not just what you say but how you say it, so it’s important to be mindful of how your choice of words might impact the candidate’s emotions.

Try to avoid harsh or critical language and replace it with something empathetic, neutral, and positive. For instance, rather than saying “I was shocked that”, try something along the lines of “it would’ve been great to see […].” Or instead of saying “You were awful at”, say “You performed well on […], but there are some areas that I felt you could’ve been stronger on”.

For the interviewer, giving negative feedback is nothing personal – it’s just business. But the candidate will naturally take your comments personally. After all, it’s an assessment of their skills, abilities, and knowledge.

So, when responding to an unsuccessful candidate, it’s best to refrain from an overly negative, condescending, or rude tone of voice. Instead, use empathetic, considerate, and neutral language. If you’re unsure if your feedback reflects the right tone, it’s best to ask a colleague to check it before sending.

What you say and how you say it is especially important when it comes to potential legal risks. Especially if you’re providing written feedback (e.g. via email), it’s essential to ensure that you don’t say anything that could be misconstrued as discrimination.

One area where this might arise concerns a candidate’s age. This information isn’t commonly disclosed on CVs. It’s often possible to gauge someone’s age by looking at their education history, but it may not always be accurate.

If you find that a candidate is unsuitable for your team due to their age, this is unlawful treatment as per the Equality Act 2010. So, for example, instead of saying “We feel you’re too young for our team”, say “We’re looking for someone with at least X years of experience in this field”. Other key characteristics that are protected under the Act include race, disability, and religion or belief.

Whether you provide feedback after an interview yourself or a recruiter delivers the message, your choice of words is paramount. You should familiarise yourself with the Equality Act 2010 and ensure that candidates are treated fairly and lawfully.

Don’t give false hope

It can be tempting to sugarcoat rejections, but this can lead to false hope if the positive information you provide is untrue. For example, some employers conclude rejection emails with “We’ll be sure to keep your information on file and contact you when a suitable role becomes available.”

Something like that is fine to say as long as it’s true. However, if you feel the need to say it just to appear less harsh, then you’re giving the applicant false hope that they might hear from you again.

If you know you won’t be contacting them again, then a more suitable way to wrap up a rejection email could be “We really appreciate the time you have taken to apply for this role and attend the interview. It was great to meet you and we wish you the best of luck for the future.”


Interviews are a natural part of running a business. If you’re getting ready to take on your very first employee, this can be a daunting task.

To make this easier and create a more positive experience, we recommend responding promptly to candidates, giving personalised feedback, being constructive and honest, using empathetic language, being mindful of legal risks that could cause issues for your company, and avoiding giving false hope.

Quality Company Formations is one of the UK’s leading company formation agents. They provide the largest range of company structures and company formation packages in the country, which start at just £11.99.

As well as getting your company registered, they also provide a range of post-incorporation services to guide you through your company’s life cycle. To find out more, visit the Quality Company Formations website.

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