I've been doing interviews with candidates for a development based job and have always liked to be open and communicative. When a candidate requests feedback, after an interview, I've wondered how much detail should I put and how can I make it as constructive as possible for them?

At the moment, we ask them to an interview and ask them some soft technical questions, often on developing with generics and design patterns.

Then we give them a small dummy project to do, and see if they can fix or apply all the details requested of them (E.g. can they change the class to use generics)

After the process, I can either be:

  • Broad saying they need to brush up on these skills, they did well here, etc.
  • Pinpoint and say these specific points in the interview are where you had issues and these points you exceeded at


Which method (Or other method(s)) provides the candidate with the relevant information, whilst also keeping the feedback constructive?

This feedback could be provided after the candidate was rejected for the role or were selected.

Similar questions tend to be from the interviewee's POV and not the interviewer's

  • 1
    As a candidate, I would find the pinpointing the most valuable. But do not waste too much time on this. If the candidate really needs detailed feedback, I'd suggest that he practices on pramp.com Jan 16, 2020 at 10:43
  • 2
    What do you want to achieve by providing that specific feedback? It will cost time, and can open your for liability if done carelessly, so what's the upside you are hoping to gain?
    – Aida Paul
    Jan 16, 2020 at 11:01
  • 1
    @TymoteuszPaul To help other people. If I have the time and ability, I will do it if they ask. If I don't, then I don't offer. The feedback can also work both ways, they can also use the channel to provide feedback as an interviewer helping myself to adapt my own skills
    – Draken
    Jan 16, 2020 at 11:59

2 Answers 2


I completely understand your honest intent to provide a constructive feedback, but let me warn you, you should be really really be careful on what you say as part of the feedback, because in some places / countries, any statement containing a slightest hint of personal favoritism, choice or preference can be held against you and the organization (as discrimination).

If you really want to provide a feedback, keep it very generic, like

"We're looking for someone with experience and knowledge which will have a better match to the job description."

My suggestion, do not go into exact technical details, right or wrong, choice of approach etc, unless you are absolutely sure that the information cannot be held against you as a discrimination of some sort.

Unless there is a monumental difference between the expectation and reality (ex: someone applying for a technical position does not have any technical knowledge and experience whatsoever, or maybe someone with a completely different background applied for a position which needs absolutely different set of expertise) - you should steer clear of trying to provide exact feedback (like a school or university or a course coordinator).

  • And then make sure to complain loud and hard when candidates learn to provide generic politically-correct answers, or when they are advised to do so, in order to protect their own interests.
    – virolino
    Jan 16, 2020 at 10:54
  • This really should be a comment as it doesn't answer the actual question.
    – Aida Paul
    Jan 16, 2020 at 11:12
  • @TymoteuszPaul and what is the actual question which remains unanswered? I specifically provided an example with a different formatting to stand out - how is that not an answer (whether you like it or not is a different story)? Jan 16, 2020 at 11:13
  • 3
    "Which method (Or other method(s)) provides the candidate with the relevant information, whilst also keeping the feedback constructive?" What you suggest satisfies neither, it's the boilerplate OP wishes to avoid.
    – Aida Paul
    Jan 16, 2020 at 11:16
  • @TymoteuszPaul (1) The tile of the question says "How much detail should you give when a candidate requests feedback?" The answer is: As little as possible, maybe none. (2) The question "which method....." is not answered, because the act itself (detailed feedback) is discouraged in this answer. Jan 16, 2020 at 11:19

How much detail should you give when a candidate requests feedback?

Most of the candidates which you would like to hire want to have a real opportunity to understand where they can improve.

So, from the point of view of the candidate, you should be as specific as possible. All the other details about covering your back should not reflect much on the communication with the candidate. Of course you must obey laws and such, but offering absolutely no usable information is just unprofessional. I usually take it as an offense - as being dismissed, making me feel less than a human being.

However, my experience (and the experience of countless people over the world) is that candidates either receive from recruiters / companies useless template text, or no answer at all.

As a consequence, the candidates learned to be more cautious about what they say, and learned to provide "standard" answers to standard questions.

As a result, when the loop closed, the recruiters became angry that they no longer receive useful information.

The conclusion is:

  • what kind of a recruiter you want to be;
  • what kind of candidates you want to help building.

Once you answer this "quiz", you have the answer to your original question. It is not a matter of what you MUST do, but a matter of what you WANT to do.

Which method (Or other method(s)) provides the candidate with the relevant information, whilst also keeping the feedback constructive?

Method? Just tell the candidate why you rejected them. The way to carry the message is less relevant, be it by e-mail or by traveling pigeons. The information is relevant, not the method.

  • When I mention method, I don't mean the delivery method, but more are there specific workflows I should follow to provide the correct information to the candidate, e.g. I should not end the email on a negative
    – Draken
    Jan 16, 2020 at 12:16
  • For that, you need to ask a separate question, and I guess that it will be closed as being too broad. What you need is a good amount of information from the science of communication, tailored for written business communication and recruiting. I cannot imagine a template that would work fine in all cases.
    – virolino
    Jan 16, 2020 at 12:19

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