November 28, 2023

Interview Feedback Is Dead


Episode Highlights

Interviews Are An Imperfect Process


Lack of Feedback Creates A Skills Gap


They Just Liked Someone Else Better


Low EQ People Ruined Interview Feedback


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Ever not get hired and wonder where you fell short in the interview? But your contact at the company left you hanging?

Or maybe you were on the other side. Looking to pay it forward, but were shot down by legal.

Behind every job seeker who didn’t get feedback, there’s a recruiter who got their hand slapped for giving it previously. Welcome to the exciting world of hiring litigation.

Jeff Smith and James Hornick unpack what both job seekers and companies have lost in the modern say-nothing feedback world in episode 78 of The 10 Minute Talent Rant, “Interview Feedback Is Dead”

Episode Transcript

The 10 Minute Talent Rant is live. I’m James Hornick joined by Jeff Smith and we are on the clock. The 10 Minute Talent Rant is our ongoing series where we break down things that are broken in the talent acquisition and hiring space, maybe even pitch a solution or two. Before we dig in, all of our content can be found at

This week’s topic, Jeff, you ready? Episode 78, Interview Feedback is Dead. We got back from Thanksgiving and chose violence. So, a recruiting contact of mine got an earful from a hiring manager recently for giving feedback to a candidate who didn’t get an offer. Nothing crazy. Straightforward, self improvement, what you could do a little better on next time.

But that was unfortunately frowned upon in that particular establishment. And it’s becoming more and more common. It’s extension to how professional reference checks have morphed into employment verification. You’re only allowed to say, yes, they worked here. Yes or no, they’re eligible for rehire.

That’s all you get. And from interview feedback,

feedback standpoints becoming very bland like that the same way. Yeah, it was shocking to hear-

it was shocking to hear that was the stance, like, absolutely no feedback comes out of, from an external partner perspective, but also internally as well, I was like, wow, that’s a flex.

We also find, the bigger the company, the more likely they have large legal teams, procurement teams, things like that, and the more likely they are to just be a bit more paralyzed from the fear of litigation risk. You know, you say the wrong thing to the wrong job seeker and you get a lawsuit coming your way.

There’s that damage, but we all kind of forget in, you know, while doing all of this, that interviews are, by nature, an imperfect process as they stand, right? So, once upon a time, I think, it wasn’t uncommon to take negative feedback. You know, you discuss it with the candidate, circle back with the hiring team, re-evaluate if something was missed.

It was all a pretty benign process. That did happen, right? Like, we were talking about this beforehand. It’s like Mandela effect. Are we thinking it happened and it really wasn’t that easy? But I swear to God, like, there were times I’d place candidates who got a no. And we turned it into a yes because we just kind of went over with them, and went back to the client. Yeah, I feel like I don’t know, but maybe Gen Z and late millennials can tell us we’re charging 10 miles in the snow.

I don’t know. But, I mean, the likelihood of the main difference being the internet is probably pretty high. You think about the last 20 years it’s pretty easy to trend negatively online. It’s probably where a lot of this comes from. Yeah. Then you’ve got other things, like when people aren’t used to getting feedback, like they don’t know how to take it.

Like everyone out there has had someone, anyone who’s been a hiring manager recruiter has given feedback for us, had someone completely blow up on them. And it happens just so much more when they’re not used to hearing it. We were talking about this on LinkedIn last week, which is also why we want to have this post. Because I posted about something, I thought was pretty straightforward, and there was way more to it.

And I realized, had a woman who actually got physically assaulted in a parking lot. Like at the end of the day, whoever she had to reject like back in the onsite days, like just waited and followed her out there and berated her, you know, and like people are nuts.

You know, it really kind of comes down to that. The third thing I want to mention here too, is like the most damaging thing, is that, it also creates a bit of a skills gap. Yeah. Like how are people supposed to know it’s time to pivot their career, or pivot their skills, if they’re not getting substantive feedback and where they fell short. Like, this is the aspirational aspect of it, there’s the litigation aspect, but there’s like-

aspirationally, we should all want everyone to do better and improve. And when feedback gets gutted from the process, it really kind of, it takes a drag on both people individually. But also societally, as like a business community, it makes it harder for everyone to stay current, so.

Yeah, imagine sitting at a job for 17 years and being told that you do this job extremely well, and then you go to pivot, no one’s told you what’s happened on the outside, so you have no context into how things have changed. And so, insularly, you think that everything is fine, and then you come to find that, like, nothing that you bring to the table is at all meaningful.

It has to be terrible. Yeah. Look, there’s three main categories. And we found as we kind of got going with this that, generally speaking, folks fell into one of these three camps.

Camp number one being, pretty simply, some people just get furious that feedback isn’t better in general. And by that, I mean the feedback loops, right? Humans by nature, we think the world revolves around them. We are a high hubris species. It’s part of our nature. And when feedback is fluffy, nondescript, you know, everyone gets bent out of shape and internet rages. Everyone’s seen it on their LinkedIn feed. It’s why you can’t take things like Glassdoor seriously. Some people are just dumdums. Like no matter how good the feedback is, there’s always going to be somebody who thinks it isn’t good enough. A piece of advice for you folks. If you get an interview and the feedback part matters to you that much, ask the recruiter or the hiring manager what the feedback policy is. It doesn’t come without risk, but if it’s that important to you, by all means, do it. At least you’ll know ahead of time that you’re not going to get anything if you’re a pass. Yeah.

Second group of people. People who believe other people shouldn’t expect feedback. Like, no one owes it to you. Everyone’s going to get sued. We all know this. We should all just kind of move along with our lives. Basically exactly what we’re saying with why feedback is dead. But, there’s a lot of people out there who have resigned themselves, this is just the way it is. So get over it. Like stop complaining about the lack of feedback. You’re never going to get it again, as long as you live. Continue living though. Yeah. There’s intricacies to this. We get it. I don’t want to get into all of that right now. But, the bottom line is, there is a part of this that requires folks to understand or have the EQ, that most feedback these days won’t actually help you in a future situation. Unless it’s a super specific personality trait or something that annoyed one of the interview panel and that person or company giving the feedback, immediately giving that sort of tangible stuff, immediately puts them into legal jeopardy. It’s just simply not something that in this day and age people are willing to risk. I think there’s also a lot of stuff posted out there, posted jobs, out in the ether that are exactly as advertised. They’re not careers, they’re just jobs. So, often interview teams just want a person to complete tasks. Expecting feedback in most of those scenarios, it’s kind of a fool’s errand. Like, what are you expecting to glean? Yeah.

You can’t drive a forklift. We know you’re very interested in wanting to learn how to drive a forklift, but that’s not what the hiring team wants. They want someone who’s actually done it before. Like, this is not that hard to figure out why you didn’t get the job. Didn’t I tell you how interested I am in learning how to drive a forklift? Like, come on.

All right, number three. Everyone says that they want feedback, but no one actually does. Everyone wants to know why they didn’t get the job until they disagree with the reasons as to why they didn’t get the job.

We’ve spoken about this most often in other rants. At the end of the day, and it has a corollary in the first point, true, meaningful, introspection as a personality trait is required. Required. To be able to handle and accept hard feedback at its core. You know who can’t accept hard feedback? Low EQ people. Yeah. If you’re getting bent out of shape about it, you’re inherently not right for the job anyway. Look, dirty secret. Most of the time, there’s no skills gap.

You didn’t fuck anything up in the interview. They just like somebody better. And that’s the hard part about it. Like sometimes someone on the interview panel just didn’t vibe with you, happens, move on. People are just going to like some other people better than you.

It’s just an incredibly hard thing for a lot of people to accept, but anyone who’s been on the other side of it, like they know it’s true. And if you’ve ever not received feedback, maybe you’ve been on a hiring panel before and there’s just people you interviewed that you like better.

Yeah. And I guess also worth noting, on the opposite side of it, some people just like absolutely suck at giving feedback. Right. That’s exactly it. Have you, raise of hands, virtually, has anybody worked for a low EQ hiring manager or manager in their job? I have. I think everybody has. Would you want that person giving feedback to candidates who didn’t get the job?

You’re out of your mind, if you want that. That sounds insane. If you’ve ever spent any time around human beings, especially human beings like that, how could you possibly think that that would be a scalable process in which you want to disseminate feedback out into the world? Yeah.

Side note, and this completely flies in the face of everything we just said. If you want to attract top talent, you want to give that A+ candidate experience during the interview process, full white glove treatment, you can’t really do that if you’re not giving feedback. So, just something to think about too.

I will say, to end this, I know we’re a little-

the reason that the best firms have the policies in which they can actually give feedback is because they’re attracting the highest EQ people.

Yeah. Chew on that for a bit. So in summary, interview feedback’s dead. We just told you why. It’s never coming back. It’s sad, but, now you know. We are short on clock. That’s a wrap for this week. Thanks for tuning in the 10 Minute Talent Rant, part of the Talent Insights series, which is always available for replay on As well as YouTube, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, and Amazon. Jeff, thanks again as always. Everyone out there, we’ll see you soon.

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