Under the GDPR right of access, [t]he controller shall provide a copy of the personal data undergoing processing. During and possibly after the interview process, an employer or recruitment agencies holds data related to job applicants, including unsuccessful ones. That data may include more or less structured notes relating to each applicant. Such notes may be of interest to unsuccessful candidates for the purposes of feedback, which employers may or may not be willing to give.

Does GDPR mean that employers or recruitment agencies must provide such notes, insofar as they relate to the applicant, in response to a subject access request (SAR) from a rejected applicant — effectively providing unsuccessful job applicants with the right to some feedback in situations where this information is retained?

See also:

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    When would you be asking for this? After you had been rejected from a job? – David K Aug 29 '18 at 16:01
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    @DavidK Yes, I would. In an earlier draft of my question I wrote “unsuccessful applicant”, but then dropped “unsuccessful” as that detail is probably not relevant for the answer. – gerrit Aug 29 '18 at 16:05
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    gerrit, I think it's very relevant. If you were still waiting to hear back about a job offer, this would almost guarantee you wouldn't get it. And if you had received an offer or were already employed, it would be extremely strange and probably reflect badly on you. If you have already lost the job opportunity though, you don't have much face to lose. – David K Aug 29 '18 at 16:07
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    @DavidK I have edited it back into the question. – gerrit Aug 29 '18 at 16:19

The GDPR right of access concerns access to your personal data, not the notes taken with respect to that data. The documents can be requested as per Article 15, but the company reserves the right to redact or otherwise censor the information so long as it does not redact, remove, or otherwise censor the personal data being requested. (For example, I request my application summary after an interview. They must provide what information they passed on as concerns my resume, work experience, etc. but they are not required to share what they thought of my mannerisms, smell, etc.)

As an afterthought, the wording of Article 15 is somewhat ambiguous. I stand by my answer as is, given it's the most likely interpretation, but that may change based on actual, real-world cases reviewed by professionals far more informed and competent than I.


Can't speak to the GDPR part of this question, but a couple of times when interviewing and I did not get a position I called the hiring manager and asked real innocently 'Hey I see I wasn't offered the position. For my own development I was wondering what I could have done better that would have led to an offer?'

This line has almost worked every time, except for one situation where I found out later that they hired an unqualified nephew of the owner and didn't want to say that.

Good luck.

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