Legal Recruitment from Ten-Percent Legal

Monday, February 04, 2013

Getting Feedback from Legal Job Interviews - is it worth it?

Getting Feedback from Interviews – Is it Worth It?

This week I have coached a junior lawyer who came to see me for interview practice following a series of interviews where she had been rejected.

She had been given feedback on one occasion and the feedback had been that she was too timid and appeared to lack confidence. 

After interviewing her for 30 minutes, albeit in a practice scenario, it was pretty clear that this was not someone who was timid or lacked confidence and in fact a very able interviewee.  She was clear, lucid, able to answer complicated questions immediately without pause, come up with examples for competency based interview scenarios (e.g. describe a situation when …) and was not fazed by any rude or negative questions.  In fact, in terms of the standard she was at I would say she was more than competent as an interviewee and certainly did not lack confidence or was timid.

However, she was a very slight woman, fairly short and extremely softly spoken. 

I was curious to know who the interview was who provided this feedback, and guessed that it was a slightly or extremely overweight middle-aged man with a deep voice.  I was correct.

This feedback is completely useless to the interviewee. All it does is demonstrate the interviewer’s misconceptions and preconceived ideas that a woman who is fairly short and slender is firstly timid and second because she is softly spoken lacks confidence. Furthermore it damaged the interviewee's confidence unnecessarily.

So how useful is getting feedback from interviews?

Usually feedback supplied from someone who is being honest can be very helpful and constructive. Unfortunately the vast majority of feedback is neither.  HR Departments will often come up with some wishy washy response that is concocted and bears no relevance at all to the reasons you were rejected for a post.  This is partly because they are scared of being sued under employment legislation and secondly because very often they can’t remember who you are after interview.

Similarly feedback from an interviewer like the somewhat ignorant man in the example above can damage your confidence and affect your future prospects, even though what they say may not be true.

Problems with Feedback

The difficulty with interview feedback is that very often the feedback does in fact run the risk of leaving the employer open to some form of litigation, whether this is sex discrimination or even race discrimination.  There are so many times I have been told by an employer after we have sent a candidate for interview that the candidate was smelly, unkempt, likely to go off on maternity leave, had a difficult accent to follow and wasn’t sure how clients would cope, too short, too fat, too tall, too old, too young, female etc. 

After they have given us this feedback they then say but can you please make something up to say we’ve simply rejected them.

Why bother getting feedback from job interviews?

So what is the point in getting feedback?  The answer to this is simple. The more you stay in touch with an employer the more likely it is they will offer you a job or an opening will come up and you will be in the right place at the right time, even after they may have rejected you for a post. 
There have been so many occasions over the years I have been in recruitment where a candidate has pushed and pushed us to chase for feedback and eventually after two or even three months firms got back to say that they were impressed by the person’s tenacity and would like to offer them a job.
Quite often companies and employers do not have any set in stone recruitment procedure and it can be fairly fluid as to when they decide to recruit somebody. Although they may have advertised in a certain month, it may be that they change their mind and decide to not recruit for another couple of months until work picks up again.  You may just happen to be in the right place at the right time when it comes to that particular recruitment if you keep chasing for feedback from an interview a few months before.


So in summary it is good to get feedback from interviews even though most of the feedback you get will be complete nonsense and not relate at all to you, BUT it does mean you stay in touch with the employer and it increases your chances of success.

Jonathan Fagan is Managing Director of Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment - Online Legal Recruitment for Solicitors, Legal Executives, Fee Earners, Support Staff, Managers and Paralegals. Visit our Website to search or download our Vacancy Database or view our Candidate Database online.
Our Legal Careers Shop has eBooks on CV Writing for Lawyers, Legal Job Interview Guide, Interview Answers for Lawyers, NQ Career Guide, Guide to Finding Work Experience or a Training Contract and the Entrants Guide to the Legal Profession.

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