Applicant feedback

Once the Resourcing Team have received the shortlisting grid via the e-Recruitment system (iTrent) they will turn down the unsuccessful candidates. Following interviews, the Resourcing Team will turn down any external candidates once the interview decision grid has been received via iTrent.

Usually, only applicants who have applied under the Disability Confident scheme, internal candidates and Essex Graduates will be provided with feedback following shortlisting. 

Candidates with a disability 

Candidates who have requested consideration under the Disability Confident scheme will be identified on the shortlisting grid. If they meet the essential criteria outlined in the person specification they must be invited for an interview. Recruiting applicants with a disability guidance will provide you with further information regarding your responsibilities. Where Disability Confident candidates are not shortlisted, the essential criteria that they did not meet should be clearly indicated on the shortlisting grid.

Staff and student applicants

Where there are applicants who already work at the University or who are Essex graduates, it is University practice for the Chair of the selection panel or the Head of Department to provide personal feedback as soon as possible after the selection process. For any other feedback requests, the Chair of the panel should indicate who will be the point of contact for feedback.

Providing feedback to a candidate

Start positively

As the candidate is likely to be unhappy that they were unsuccessful in their interview, it would be beneficial to start with a statement thanking the candidate for their time and effort in applying, preparing and attending the interview. The initial element of the feedback should be positive. The beginning of the feedback should highlight an aspect of the interview where they performed well, and then start to talk about the areas for improvement.

Identify where they could improve

Refer to elements of the candidate’s interview that can be changed. Stating that, for example, the candidate appeared nervous is unhelpful, as it doesn’t provide any sort of means for the candidate to change this behaviour. Instead it would be better to state aspects that can be amended and to then state how. As an individual who has experience in this field, your first-hand knowledge can be invaluable to a candidate, and your feedback will be considered as coming from an authority.

Other examples of areas to improve might include that the candidate needed to do some more preparation about the University and the strategies, or the department itself, or that they need to be more focused and succinct with their answers to questions.

Be specific

Being specific in your feedback, and the language you use, will help the candidate to clearly identify the weaknesses in their interview performance, and will provide them with more constructive feedback. For example instead of stating that a candidate gave a strong answer to a particular question, explain what made the answer strong.  Conversely where a weak answer was given, explain what made it so.  It might be that the answer they gave did not fully demonstrate their knowledge in a particular area, and you would suggest that they use a more concrete example should they be asked a similar question again. Try to provide them with a specific example of what they could have said in that situation.

Be clear

The feedback needs to be as clear and concise as possible, for it to have the biggest impact on the candidate. The most effective way of conveying the message will be to ensure that you clearly state the area(s) that the candidate fell short, whilst also employing the tips above.  For the candidate to be able to work on the feedback, they need to be able to understand it, without any ambiguity.

Use the criteria

All feedback should link directly back to the advertised essential/desirable criteria for the role.

Providing feedback for staff and graduate students

Where there are applicants who already work at the University or are Essex graduates, it is University practice for the Chair of the selection panel or the Head of Department to be available to provide personal feedback after the selection process, should the candidate request it.

Feedback should be provided to these unsuccessful applicants following shortlisting as well as following an interview, should they request it.  This allows the candidates to ask any questions they have regarding their feedback, and it also gives those invited for interview further opportunity to question the panel regarding how the can improve for future interviews. As they are already a part of our community, we wish to assist them in any way we can with furthering their careers. The feedback we provide to candidates who are already affiliated with Essex should follow the same format as for any other candidate (i.e. be based on the essential and desirable criteria for the role).

Further support

For further advice, contact the Resourcing Adviser.

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Resourcing team