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I've recently started giving interviews for my place of work, and sometimes I end up interviewing candidates who make mistakes that can be corrected without a significant amount of work. As a specific example, occasionally I will get resumes that are upwards of five pages for a mid level developer job, the fix being trim it down to two pages (at least). Perhaps they repeat a lot of information, or there's a lot of fluff.

Is it improper for me to give this feedback to a candidate, especially unprompted? I've asked others in the office and they've said that they tend not to do it, but they don't really know why (just that it feels like something they shouldn't do). I'm on the fence because for one, what do I know? I don't want to give someone bad advice. Additionally, it does seem like it could cause hurt feelings, and could maybe spiral into something that I'd rather avoid.

marked as duplicate by dwizum, gnat, gazzz0x2z, Chris E, DarkCygnus May 21 '18 at 17:52

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    For candidates you are not going to consider, don't send them mixed messages by contacting them with advice. – user86764 May 20 '18 at 19:34
  • I'm going to add something from a candidates perspective: I would have loved to get feedback on my resume. My friends are not always going to see everything from a recruiters perspective and I have to admit I'm not the best at writing resumes. Just some food for thought... – solarflare May 21 '18 at 1:13
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    @solarflare, there are things that work great in theory but don't work in practice. You would probably appreciate feedback with is thoughtful and useful. If you are ever provided feedback you will learn that most companies give feedback that is random and useless. Unless your resume is really horrible - but then you should turn to some friend for corrections. – BigMadAndy May 21 '18 at 8:52
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    Check with your employer before providing feedback to candidates. They may have specific policies about channels through which feedback can be given to candidates - ie through the company's recruiter. This is commonly done as a way of protecting the company from exposure to discrimination lawsuits (HR won't pass on your feedback if it could be construed as discriminatory) but also as a way to ensure uniformity and fairness in the hiring process. – dwizum May 21 '18 at 12:37
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As somebody who does interviews:

  • do not do it, you are not paid for that. You are responsible to give feedback to your manager, not for training applicants

  • do not do it, since any information which you give to the applicant which points to something why you rejected her/him may provide a liability for the company.

  • do not do it, since there are enough sources of information that an applicant can draw from about an application. I dont want to get people who incrementally changed/updated their CV/cover letter until it was compliant an smooth. If the applicant feels she/he needs to go outside the established standards, it is good if that is reflected in the CV.

  • do not do it, since this may come over to the applicant as picky. Getting rejected over "we found somebody better" is easier to swallow than "we found somebody better - and by the way, I did not like the typesetting in your CV". In the first case it's easier to contact the applicant, could a job come up.

  • And do not, under any circumstances, do it unless you check with HR first. Many companies have policies against this sort of thing because it opens up a potential legal liability if the person thinks they have been unfairly excluded. there is a reason why HR writes the rejection letters if they even support going so far as to tell people they have been turned down. – HLGEM May 21 '18 at 18:42
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Try only to give candidates feedback if:

  • you are in a position to judge something; this means no feedback about someone's soft skills for example - because talking to them for an hour or 2 you don't know them enough to assess that; (you can read some articles about unreliability of job interviews to learn that the impressions you get during interviews are totally random and don't say anything about candidates). Just be realistic about what you know and what you don't know. If someone was awful during an interview it might be they don't have a clue. Or it may be that their long-term bf/gf dumped them the night before. Of course you can still reject them even if their poor performance was due to the fact bf/gf dumped them the night before - in the end you need to select someone. But remain a rational person and be aware that our behaviour is conditioned by plenty of factors (google "fundamental attribution error"). And don't give feedback if you are not in a position to judge
  • you think other companies would share your feedback; your feedback doesn't only reflect your subjective personal preferences. To give you an example, I've already been given feedback I should add a "Hobbies" section to my CV because the company wanted to get to know me better... And feedback that I should delete the section because we are not in the Kindergarten and nobody cares I like jogging. Feedback that my CV is too long... And that it's not detailed enough and I should add a list of projects. If you see plenty of spelling or formatting errors in someone's CV/ resume, you are on the safe side - you can probably generalise that this is a thing every hiring manager would view negatively. But with things that aren't like that refrain from giving feedback, since it's useless to the candidate.

If you want to be taken seriously only give feedback in situations that fulfil the two conditions above. Too many HR people/ hiring managers enjoy the little power they have a bit too much and give feedback in situations in which they are not qualified to do so.

  • Not that long ago I did an interview with a company that offers to "skip the resume" and "put you directly in touch with employers." One of their feedback points (via email a week later) was that my code was sloppy. No details, just that one off-hand remark. I replied back with something along the lines of "what the hell? The interviewer didn't say anything verbally about my coding style, care to give some concrete details?" And their followup just doubled down. – Draco18s May 21 '18 at 0:51
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Yes, please do give feedback. Make the world a better place.

That said, don't over-do it. I typically give a feedback less than 10 seconds long. We are not in an argument; don't waste time educating the candidate. If they're smart, they'll get it. They may disagree in their heart, no big deal.

It is kind of like a friendly reminder.

  • do you think that this could expose the company, and the interviewer to liability? – Retired Codger May 21 '18 at 18:25
  • No, it is very bad idea. But then you might have to learn this by having a candidate who won't accept no for an answer or who sues you because you eliminated him for a petty reason. – HLGEM May 21 '18 at 18:45

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