1/3 of applicants have accepted a second-choice job offer because of delayed interview feedback, finds study

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Right up there with going to the dentist and sitting an exam has to be the great tradition of going for a job interview. Particularly now it’s October, and recent graduates will be gearing up for this. You sit there, being asked probing questions by someone you’ve never met, trying hard to impress them and make them think you’re the perfect person for the job, while hoping they haven’t noticed how sweaty your armpits are.


Considering how much we psyche ourselves up for an interview, it would be great to firstly be told if we didn’t get the job, which many employers fail to do, and some feedback on how we did. After all, it would help us give a better interview next time. But it seems that feedback from a company after they’ve interviewed a candidate isn’t necessarily a priority, or even a given.


Indeed, a recent study by Virgin Media showed that unhappy, rejected candidates would actually go as far as to cancel their service with the company.  They found that 18% of their rejected candidates were Virgin Media customers. Not only would they cancel their own service, they would go on to communicate their bad experience to others. The result was a potential loss of millions of pounds of revenue*.


Video interview company Shortlister conducted a survey of 2,600 job applicants to discover what experiences job seekers have had following an unsuccessful interview, particularly that of receiving feedback as to why they didn’t get the job.


Firstly, they discovered that Scottish companies take the longest to give feedback to unsuccessful candidates – there, it takes on average 36 days (well over a month) to hear anything back at all. This was followed by the South West of England, where employers take on average 29 days. However, if you’re an employer in the South East, you’re the speediest; they take only 17 days to get back to applicants.


The job seekers were also surveyed by industry, to find out which one is worst at providing feedback. The worst performing was the retail industry, where over half of candidates reported not getting any feedback following an unsuccessful application. The most considerate industry is the legal sector, where only 10% of applicants never received any feedback.


To find out how where you live compares, and the different types of industries, check out the following interactive map: https://www.shortlister.com/infographics/job-interview-feedback/

But it seems that a delay in getting in touch can adversely affect even successful candidates: Shortlister also found that almost a third (30%) of Brits accepted a job that was only their second choice, because their first choice took so long to get back to them! That means a lot of employers are missing out on their perfect candidate. As a heads up to potential employers, 71.6% of candidates feel that a seven-day timeframe is a reasonable one to wait to hear back from them. Any longer than that is just rude, presumably!


Then, once the candidate is offered a new job, 60.3% of Brits say they will have made their decision on whether to accept it within just seven days, too.


Unfortunately, 39.7% of applicants have just been ignored when they’ve asked for feedback from an interview, which is a shame, as feedback can help steer a candidate in the right direction for next time. Brits, however, say they only spend 30 minutes on average researching a company before an interview; perhaps they should spend a little longer, so they can sound more informed and perhaps ask more relevant questions; 38.4% of potential employees say they often forget some of the questions they want to ask in an interview.


Ever wondered just what it is you could be doing wrong? Shortlister’s survey also uncovered the worst questions for candidates to ask in an interview (below). They found that over a quarter (28%) of employers said that they would be put off a candidate during an interview if they asked an inappropriate question.


‘How many sick days do I get?’ which smacks of wanting to skive off, frankly.

Can I work from home?’ may give employers the impression the candidate isn’t totally committed to the job.

Will I have to work overtime?’ may come across like an unwillingness to have to do so;

What is the salary?’ might seem like the emphasis is just being placed on earnings;

‘What does your company do?’ makes it obvious that the interviewee hasn’t got much of a clue… about anything.


Post-interview feedback is so important,’ says David Dewey from Shortlister. ‘It can be the difference between a candidate getting the next job, or not. It is also beneficial for the employer- leaving the candidate with a positive attitude towards the company. We at Shortlister support the #fightforfeedbackcampaign to make it a legal requirement for employers to provide this.’

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