Awkward interview feedback

I am trying my best to give useful feedback following interviews. 

But sometimes I really struggle to say anything helpful around a poor fit. I don't want to offend anyone by straight-up saying "You were so annoying you would do everyone's head in and no one will want to collaborate with you" but that is what I would say if I was being honest.

As a recent example: Incredible candidate for a marketing role on paper. It is a new role for us and we are a small team of 35. In a 30-minute phone call, they were constantly talking over me, went on strange tangents, kept talking as though we were a marketing agency and did not respect the time limit I had booked the call for. Whilst they may have had the skills, I would be too concerned about how they would work with other people.

How can I advise a candidate like this I will not be processing their application in a fair but helpful way? Rather than a generic "other better candidates" response.

In the past, I have given the benefit of doubt to candidates like this and invited them in. But the line manager for this role trusts me and would rather not see them!

  • The most useful feedback you can give them is

    they were constantly talking over me,
    went on strange tangents,
    kept talking as though we were a marketing agency
    did not respect the time limit I had booked the call for

    Nothing there I couldn't tell someone
  • Hi Cat
    There's always a balance here isn't there. My usual tack is to ask them first how they think it went, sometimes it can help to deliver a potentially difficult message. If for example they say, I was really nervous and felt that I was talking a lot over you... then it gives you an in to speak to them about that.
    Is there something positive that you can give them as well? I think I would diplomatically point out that you felt that the telephone interview didn't go as well as it could have, and that some of the information they were conveying wasn't that helpful (ie the tangent thing?) and keep checking back with them, asking their opinion.
  • In reply to Keith:

    The simplest solutions are often the best! Overthinking strikes again... I wasn't sure if this would be too much of a character assassination after a short (but not short enough) phonecall.
    In terms of something positive... they could probably do the job. But would clash with so many people along the way.
  • "We recognise that an interview only gives us a snapshot of the way that a candidate will perform, but for this role it is important that the person appointed can be concise and can listen carefully to requirements. On the basis of the telephone interview, you answered some questions before the other person finished speaking and didn't always give a response that matched the question asked. As a result, the answers were long meaning that the call ran over time. These are areas you may wish to focus on in future interview practice.

    We also noted that some of your answers seemed better suited to a role in a marketing agency, and we wondered whether you may find kind of role that a better fit for your experience and skills."
  • In reply to Cat Jones:

    And isn't that the purpose of 'Feedback'. Thats hopefully, how people learn and move on.

    My wife has absolutely no problem about giving me (or others when appropriate) feedback if my behaviour has proved lacking - and she'd give it like Keith said although she normally adds "I thought, Perhaps, I felt, maybe, and similiar words which seem to make the feedback more acceptable because the person isn't being attacked and she's using "I" a lot which simply gives her opinion rather than saying; "you did this, disn't say that and so on. She was a Relate counsellor, management trainer and a Relate trainer - so she knows her stuff.
  • In reply to Cat Jones:

    I don't see it as character assassination, I see it as fairly direct but actually helpful feedback that , may, if implemented help them do better at another interview. Which after all should be the purpose of any feedback. Its to help the receiver. The more you dress it up, then there is the risk that some people will miss the point.

    I think I would be careful in how directly you say they could do the job - part of doing the job is getting on with colleagues etc, if I were I would say they displayed many of the technical skills necessary.
  • I would always rather have honest feedback, even if it isn't good. The person may never have been told any of these qualities before so may not even realise they are a problem.

    I remember when I went for an interview at a college, I didn't get the role, but the HR Manager arranged to call me afterwards to speak to me. He spent about 20 minutes going through things I had done well and things that I could improve on.

    I was only 18 at the time and in my first HR role but it was so appreciated that I like to think it did help me get another job.