Feedback for unsuccessful candidates

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This section provides advice on giving feedback to unsuccessful candidates. It forms part of our candidate experience guidance, helping you ensure candidates have a positive experience of the University.

Why is it important?

Giving good feedback to unsuccessful candidates is an essential part of selection. There are different ways to achieve this and recruiting managers will often offer feedback in different ways. As an organisation with lots of internal and repeat applicants it is vital that we support unsuccessful candidates well, as they are invested into our organisation and its future. We want to encourage strong unsuccessful candidates to re-apply and improve their performances with the feedback they receive.

Deciding how to give feedback

Providing unsuccessful candidates with good quality feedback allows the candidate to gain a clearer idea of what we are looking for when we shortlist and may assist them in being shortlisted in future.


When you decide who you would like to recommend for appointment and that candidate has accepted subject to final checks, you should start the process of providing feedback to unsuccessful candidates. You can provide the initial response in two ways, either via a phone call, where you offer feedback either immediately or once the news has sunk in, or through an email that explains to the candidate that they haven't been successful and offers a telephone call for further feedback.  Not all candidates will contact you for feedback but you should encourage it as an important part of learning and development. The following key points should be considered before giving feedback. 

Key points for feedback

  • Keep extensive notes during the selection process, this will help you when it comes to giving feedback.
  • Feedback should be agreed by all panel members before the outcome is communicated and all panel members must remember the key reasons for the decision, so that panel members are not giving out conflicting feedback. This is especially pertinent for internal candidates.
  • It is best to give feedback over the phone.
  • Feedback, like assessment more generally, must be directly linked to a candidates performance against the Person Specification and not on any judgements of character.
  • Feedback should be constructive. Being truthful with candidates about where they weren't so good is much more useful for them in the long run than avoiding faults and talking about the strength of the field.
  • Where possible, try and give feedback on all parts of the selection process and not just the interview. Following a chronological order will ensure that all areas of selection are addressed.