I recently had a job interview at company x that went terribly. I was late to the interview by less than 5 minutes (due to cell signal issues I had trouble locating the location using my cell phone), the company did not send me the technical test before the interview, and the interviewers reviewed some of my GitHub code that was about 18 months old and doesn't reflect my current knowledge or ability. The senior developer interviewer constantly interrupted me, the original interviewer mostly sat through this until the end whereby he engaged in a rather odd line of questioning that went something like this.

"Just one last question, whose fault was it you were late today?"

"Mine, my apologies again."

"It's just that the receptionist said you blamed it on the signal, I don't agree with that at all. I would have come down here a day early to scout it out and make sure I wouldn't be late."

A few days later I received an offer from another company I interviewed with and accepted it. Company x sent me the technical test they originally failed to send to complete retrospectively. I replied to company x's email and said that I am withdrawing my application, thanking all parties involved for their time. They responded and among the response was them asking for feedback regarding the interviewers, the interview format, etc., to see if that had anything to do with it.

In short the interviewer did influence my decision. I am not sure whether I am just sensitive, but I just found it to not be a good sign when a prospective manager makes me uncomfortable at the get-go. Is it a good idea to be honest with HR and mention how I felt, or just to leave it?

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    Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – Masked Man Jun 22 at 1:09
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    What's your goal? What purpose would you hope to serve by giving or not giving feedback? Hard to answer without knowing your motivations (although I guess it's fair to say that everyone answering has guessed at them). – dwizum Jun 22 at 12:18

18 Answers 18

up vote 154 down vote accepted

Probably better to just leave it. You never know if you could end up in a position where you have to work with, or for, the senior developer in company X at some time in the future. It could prove awkward or personally costly at that time if he hears what you had to say about him.

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    Great answer. Are you being compensated by company X? Presumably no. Why is it your job to improve their interview process? Congratulations on the new job. – Pete B. Jun 21 at 16:33
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    I'd probably give a "token" feedback, something like "It would be preferable to take the technical test before the interview". It sounds like they already knew this, so that way I could give them something objective but very little they didn’t already know and I would still appear helpful. – Pam Jun 21 at 19:56
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    When a company rejects your application and you ask for feedback, are you paying them? Why they would give you feedback then? Maybe we can all just be a bit nice to each other and see how it turns out – Mr Me Jun 22 at 8:07
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    @nagrom97 do they know they made a mistake (did they apologise for it)? If so, you're just confirming what they know already. If not, maybe it wasn't a mistake, but objectively, seeing the technical test before the interview would be helpful for future candidates because it would point to what they're looking for. You could even infer what parts of your GitHub they might look at (outdated for you, but maybe most familiar to the interviewer) and predict/prepare some questions. It is one improvement they could make that isn't specific to your interview. – Pam Jun 22 at 8:29
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    I've been the interviewer who received the feedback (via the recruiter) and I've always appreciated it. I wouldn't care about bringing bridges somewhere where they wouldn't appreciate an honest opinion. – Adam Martin Jun 22 at 12:46

In America, we have a saying, "**** 'em". Be honest. 100% honest. If you have something to lose at this point, then you're probably better off losing it.

Mention the rude interviewer. Mention the 18 month old code thing too. They probably didn't know how to interview at all if that's how they went about it. I'm guessing they had a bad read on the market too. You'd probably be doing whoever has to interview with this company after you a lot of good if you just gave this company the means to improve their interviewing process.

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    Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – Masked Man Jun 25 at 15:30

A possible benefit of providing honest feedback is that the company in question improves their interview process based on your experience. That would be lovely for them, but you'll never see any benefit from it yourself.

A possible negative consequence of doing so is that the company and the interviewers decide that you are in some way a disruptive or abrasive person. Any future applications you make to that company, or to another company after the problematic interviewer changes jobs, or to someone he knows at a different company, might be tainted as a result.

I do not comment on which outcome is more likely.

There is very minimal upside for you, if any, in providing the requested feedback. There is non-zero risk for you, however. On that basis, it would seem sensible to either not offer feedback at all, or avoid being too committal (withdrawing your application and thanking those involved for their time, as you have done, seems plenty good enough to me).

On a related note, companies will often decline to offer feedback to disappointed candidates for very similar reasons (but in reverse).

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – Masked Man Aug 16 at 4:20

I actually disagree with most of the other answers here.

As a former hiring manager myself, I never saw myself as beyond correction. My view may be in the minority here, but I see a survey like this as an opportunity to improve my own interviewing skills.

I always believe you should be honest. If the experience was horrible, you should say so. Obviously, be as respectful as possible and offer a positive spin on your critiques. The goal of such a survey is for the company to learn from their mistakes (and triumphs) and improve their processes.

If you follow others' advice and lie, you are not only telling this company that you approve of their practices, but you are abandoning your own integrity.

Could being honest with them hurt your chances of getting a job there in the future? Sure. The hiring managers could lack integrity themselves and use your comments against you. But if that is the case, why would you want to work for them anyway?

Honestly, in most cases, the company requesting your feedback is genuinely interested in learning how to be better and you should afford them that opportunity.

Honest insightful feedback is one of the rarest and most valuable things a person or company can receive.

Almost never do you get the opportunity to truly understand the way someone else views you.

Also, honest feedback that doesn't paint oneself in the best light is one of the hardest things to accept. Very few people can take it gracefully and act on it. Most either ignore it or actively become angry with you.

There really is no benefit in giving them your honest, negative feedback. But you can ask yourself if you are willing to give these people the gift of insightful critique. If not, just give a vague meaningless business speak non-answer. If you do, then send them the feedback, don't be mean or harsh, just state facts.

They will respond in one of three ways:

  1. They hate you for criticizing them. The bridge is burned. But you have another offer and working with people who respond like this would have been toxic anyway.

  2. They ignore you and your critique. The relationship is chilled but not necessarily over.

  3. They listen and try to improve themselves. Your professional relationship is still intact if not slightly better. Consider giving them another chance at winning your work. They seem to have some very wise people after all.

  • This is the perspective that is always missing on this site +1 – Adam Martin Jun 22 at 12:47
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    For real - if the litmus test is "what's in it for me vs what do I stand to lose" - then say nothing. – Raystafarian Jun 23 at 11:42
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    I find it disappointing that the most upvoted answers primarily consider personal risk and benefit. And answers that appeal to moral or doing what feels like the right thing to do are dangling at the bottom. – Christiaan Westerbeek Jun 24 at 17:47

When it comes to interpersonal communication and setting boundaries, you should set a boundary for yourself to not tolerate being treated rudely. This does not necessitate being rude back, because certainly people tend to be more polite during an interview process. And it would normally be a good idea not to point it out at the time of the interview.

But if they are specifically asking you why, then you should absolutely be truthful, in a calm, non-abrasive manner. The offenders (people treating you rudely) will not have a chance to improve if you are not honest about it. In that way, lying would make you an enabler if the interviewer has this as a regularly occurring problem.

If you give any feedback, it should be tempered, reserved, vague and positive.

Thank you for following up. I found that the interview was a positive experience and I learned much about your company. I think that your format is perfect for conveying your company culture, and I was glad that the interviewer was so helpful in reinforcing this. I think that your format works well for giving a very good overview of your company and that you should stick with it.

That's what I would say. There are quite a few digs in there, so you may want to be a bit more kind than I was, but if you want to sneak in a bit of double entendre, something like that would be a satisfying way to convey your dissatisfaction without getting you into any trouble.

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – Masked Man Jun 22 at 14:02
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    IMO this is far worse than giving honest feedback. You are calling them morons with a straight face. – Rui F Ribeiro Jun 25 at 20:49

I have been in a situation where I travelled 5 hours for an interview with a major UK company, to be given a 30 minute "chat" that started over an hour late with one person.

I didn't wait for them to ask for feedback, I emailed the managing director directly to tell them my experience.

The next day, I got a phone call from their head of HR asking me to come back for another interview, but now with expenses paid. I rejected it because they refused to pay for my train ticket on the first day, which I thought was reasonable; but ultimately the terms were good-ish.

Bottom line - how can they improve without honest feedback; and the person who interviewed you may be the black sheep.

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    in the most natural way possible -- they don't get candidates to stay for a while and then they scratch their heads and think maybe they should try a different approach. If they don't, this branch can't continue working and they go out of business. Survival of the fittest style. – user1306322 Jun 22 at 12:59
  • @user1306322 Sadly - this company is one that makes a vast amount of money from the government from defence - meaning that they can act almost however they want and know they're getting their money. What I noticed there was that they had a massive number of young employees - suggesting that actually what they were doing is taking advantage of those less experienced in the world of work. I'd like to agree they're not going to survive, but they will. – UKMonkey Jun 22 at 13:04
  • I suppose in that case the feedback won't matter to them and they'll continue doing what's easy. So feedback or not, some employers won't improve. But you might sour your potential future relationships with people. This is another side of this problem to consider. – user1306322 Jun 22 at 13:06
  • @user1306322 not a side worth considering - there are 1000's of employers so I don't care if they want me or not; but if they change their interview methods I would happily be involved with them. By giving this feedback they're more likely to contact me saying they've changed and want me to come back. The way I see it, I can only win by telling them the facts. – UKMonkey Jun 22 at 13:13
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    What's MD stand for? – mbomb007 Jun 22 at 18:05

Don't overthink. They are asking for a feedback, give it to them. A person/company asking for feedbacks should be well prepared to receive them.

They didn't send you their test material, and they got pissed about being a couple minutes late? Screw 'em. You owe them nothing. Zilch. Nada.

Here's a hint - they don't care. If you say "Your interview was great!" they'll pat themselves on the back and tell themselves how wonderful they are. If you tell them their interview sucked, they screwed up the test material, etc, they'll say you're a disgruntled undesirable with psychopathic tendencies and will congratulate themselves on not hiring you.

The best thing you can do is don't respond to their email. Don't play their game. Delete it and move on.

  • The more I think about it, this seems the most wise answer here. – Rui F Ribeiro Jun 26 at 4:41

No one really knows how to interview well (there's millions of theories and no really "accepted" methodology) so any feedback is always welcome. It could very well be that this is a great company but they're losing great talent because the initial impression is very off-putting.

If you feel comfortable, let them know (and what role it played in your decision). This is strictly a personal opinion, but I feel honesty and transparency have given way too much to concern about other people's feelings. Take the chance and go for it. Honesty and openness are so liberating but they're aspects we're expected to push down sometimes.

Tough one. You don't want to lie but you don't want to tell the truth. Not reply is also not a good option. You have no reason to improve their process.

Tone it down and put the blame on you.

The process seems fine. The interview started off poorly as I was 5 minutes late and to be honest it did not recover.

I happened to get an offer I like and did not want to miss the opportunity.

For sure I would not identify the problem is interviewer. Someone that dwells on late can be vindictive. No good could come of that for you.

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    Any environment that accepts "vindictive" people and actions can stay away. – Nathan Goings Jun 21 at 20:31
  • What's wrong with no reply? Why is it not a good option? – stannius Jun 22 at 16:41

The interview may have been designed to test your abilities and professionalism under pressure. I have heard of some interviews in the programming field that were revealed to be difficult only for this purpose.

I speculate that they did a good cop/bad cop approach and intentionally used your old code and tardiness against you to see if you broke down or flailed. They may have intentionally waited to send you the technical tests to make you feel under-prepared and only since you passed this interview.

I would agree that answering in a professional and reserved manner may be best for you in this shared industry.

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    It is said that companies do this to see how you handle stress. If they do, it works out fine for me: I don't want to work for companies that think that kind of manipulation is OK. Whether or not I pass that test doesn't matter to me, because the company failed my test by using this technique. – Wayne Conrad Jun 21 at 21:59
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    @WayneConrad Agreed. Jobs come with some expectation of stress and deadlines, but companies should have the goal of reducing stress and making work enjoyable. Making potential employees feel crappy on purpose is wrong. – mbomb007 Jun 22 at 18:08
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    Yes, this is known as "gaming someone". Now, here's a question - do you want to work for a bunch of jerks who would do this kind of thing to complete strangers, just for grins? Screw 'em. They want professionalism, they can give professionalism. – Bob Jarvis Jun 24 at 4:24

First of all, if that person talked to you like that, best go and work for someone with a reasonable mindset, because people like that imo have a high probability of overworking their employees. However in life you have to get used to dealing with people like that. You should be able to look calm and cool no matter how you feel. Therefore, if you are going to provide any freedback at all, make sure it doesn't make YOU look bad in any way.

Oh and btw, always remember the person and the interesting experience.

  • What was it you thought to be unreasonable about their mindset? – James Jun 23 at 16:37
  • @james, constantly talking about being late, after apologizing by the looks of it more than once. – Buzzzzzzz Jun 23 at 21:44
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    Now I understand being late is bad, but keep pushing on that after apologizing once is not something someone with a reasonable mindset would do. If you're not going to hire him that's fine. But need to shut up after that, because no one would be late for an interview on purpose. If he expects the guy to come the day before an memorize traffic, hes stupid. – Buzzzzzzz Jun 23 at 21:49
  • @Bazzzzzzz - sometimes an interview situation turns into a power trip for the person doing the interview. We have a technical term for persons like this - we call them "jerks". I've been fortunate in that I've been able to identify the jerks during a phone interview, and have passed up the "wonderful" opportunity to meet them in person. There's too many jobs for developers going begging at too many companies to put up with jerks, at any point in the process. – Bob Jarvis Jun 24 at 4:27
  • I get your point, but being late for an interview is jut a no no and there are very few real reasons it's ok. The phone signal being sketchy and so couldn't find the place is absolutely not one of them. That is essentially "sorry I didn't research the route and area where you are beforehand so I knew where I was going to this important thing. And sorry I didn't get here much earlier to cater for problems like this. In honestly, I'm just not that bothered and so set off without knowing these things or enough time". – James Jun 24 at 10:18

You could see this as an opportunity to train your ability to give honest feedback without being rude. A format could be:

  • State the relevant facts
  • Describe how you experienced / processed these facts
  • [optional] Describe your conclusion / action

Example: During the interview I was often interrupted by the senior developer interviewer. It felt unpleasant to me not to be able to finish my answer.

  • And then don't send the email :p Just writing it up as if you were actually planning to send it is a good enough exercise, especially for a couple of the first times. Send it to your more experienced friends instead and see what they say. Maybe it's perfect or maybe you'd ruin your relationship with that company forever. – user1306322 Jun 22 at 13:12
  • I would not focus on being interrupted. I would phrase like they focused in negative things too much, did not gave me the test on time, and were not professional. Or I would probably ignore the email. – Rui F Ribeiro Jun 26 at 4:39

As others have pointed out, giving honest feedback is not likely to be in your best interest - if you re-apply your negative comment is more likely be interpreted negatively than no feedback or bland/positive feedback. Secondly, you realize that HR gets hundreds of conflicting suggestions a week about changes needed. (Think of product reviews on Amazon as an example). Consequently they don't usually take action from one comment, especially if their action could hurt the morale of an existing employee(s).

Nevertheless, you seem like a reasonable guy that wants to help them improve their interviewing process for altruistic reasons even if it potentially burns a bridge. Also, though slow to act, HR will eventually take action if they can justify the action (based on multiple reports of a problem) and/or the problem has a clear and substantial negative effect on the company. I am happy whenever I do see a person like yourself wanting to be helpful despite the effort and risk required (and isn't stackexchange based on this same principle?)

If you do reply honestly I suggest leaving a bit of vagueness about the exact nature of the problem (it sounds more polite). Also consider not naming the individual ("one of the technical team was overly pointed in his remarks about my tardiness to the interview, which was due to a GPS malfunction, while at the same time, not sending me the technical test in advance of the interview gave the impression that the team was itself unprepared."). And of course, express thankfulness for the opportunity.

Interviewing is a two way negotiation, and you are honestly being too modest and harsh in yourself not recognizing they failed abysmally on your evaluation.

If I were in your shoes, I would provide some honest feedback. I doubt you would be willing to work for a company that would discriminate you in the future for you providing feedback about in interview.

As others say, once when I was very badly treated, I hunted down the contact of the IT director and complained about the HR lady. Nowadays, I just leave anonymous feedback in the glassdoor site.

As for your process, as they seemed to had rejected you as a candidate, those inquiries about the process either are standard routine, or they seem a bit out of place.

The other option is just ignoring the email and move along. You are into a new project, with new people, leave past grievances in the past. You own them nothing, and they already got the message in your previous email you did not enjoy the interaction over an alternative.

PS. Come to think of it, their "quality process" just might be a way to provide an outlet for people to slightly vent their frustrations instead of doing it anonymously in public forums for all to see.

Well you don't have to be 100% honest, just state the facts:

Company X, I enjoyed our interview and thank you for taking the time. I am currently looking for an immediate open position, and I got an offer from a different company which I took. Thank you.

That would be factual because you said you are in immediate need of a job and company Y gave you a offer first, before they did. You don't even know if you have a job with company X because you didn't complete the technical test nor gotten a offer letter.

  • As an interviewer, that would be incredulous feedback. "But we were just interviewing them!!" would be my first thought. Then the burned bridges thing starts happening, and nothing ends well... – Makoto Jun 23 at 2:59

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