Writing great interview feedback
Interviewing is hard —and this includes both conduction and evaluation. I outlined some key points for effective interviewing in my earlier post. In this post, I wanted to go over how to write the interview feedback and make sure we are making the right decision as an interviewer.
Why is interview feedback important?
Make the right decision
As human interviewers, we suffer from a lot of inherent biases.
To fix these biases, we first need to acknowledge them and not deny them:
“Real knowledge is to know the extent of one’s ignorance”
Writing detailed interview feedback helps us organize our thoughts, reason on facts rather than impressions, and avoid common interviewer biases.
Build and Improve Calibration
Written interview feedback helps interviewers understand each other’s way of evaluation, calibrate and improve as an interviewer with time. Reading feedback written by other interviewers has often taught me how to extract signals I was missing earlier or interesting questions I could have asked. This ends up being crucial in building a calibrated pool of interviewers in a company.
Enhanced insights for Leadership
One of the key responsibilities of hiring managers and executives is to build a great team and for this, they need to understand the hiring decisions made within the company over time. Well-written interview feedbacks lays down the fundamental blocks for building a great team.
What comprises great interview feedback?
Interview Notes Timeline
We should take notes as much as possible during the interview to overcome our first/last impression bias. A good way I have figured out to write interview feedback is to write short notes about signals gathered during the interview along with the time. This helps me evaluate at the end how much time the candidate took for each question, the positive and negative signals, etc.
Questions asked during the interview
Write the questions asked in the interview as it helps understand the reasoning around the ratings and notes. It's better to ask questions from a structured question bank which also helps us keep track of which question is providing what kind of signals.
Code/Design Snippets / Screenshots
Attach the code written by the candidate or the designs drawn as part of the feedback.
This is the most important section of the feedback wherein we provide our final evaluation of the candidate.
- Fill up this section only after filling up the notes timeline
- Overall rating: Provide an overall evaluation score along with justifications. This should clearly state why the rating was given and the calibration insights behind the rating.
- Attribute-wise rating: Provide a rating for the attributes pre-specified for that interview. These are the different axes along which the candidates are evaluated. This ends up becoming very useful in the future when we want to find candidates very strong in, let’s say, coding but average in problem-solving skills.
- Try to avoid using blanket statements like “the candidate was not good”, “the candidate was very junior” or “the candidate didn’t have the right attitude”.
I felt the candidate was very humble and had a great zeal to learn. She was able to come ask me the relevant question and build up on the hints I provided to come up with the right solution at the end. It felt more like working with a colleague in the interview.
- Be concise and write in your own voice. It's okay to mention areas where you were not able to extract relevant signals or if something could have been done better on your end.
The candidate needed more time than I had expected during the interview. Although he sounded reasonable and was able to build up on the hints. I felt I could have done a slightly better job at providing the hints since one of my hints ended up confusing the candidate a bit. We should check for the problem solving skills more specifically in the next interview.
Structured feedbacks written by all interviewers really helps build a strong interviewing and hiring culture inside the company. It has helped me become a better interviewer and learn from my peers. I hope someday all companies invest in building a strong interviewing team and deliver an outstanding candidate experience.