What to Do When Your Top Job Candidate Mentions Hearing Negative Feedback About Your Company

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Every company receives negative feedback at some point, but what can you do when that feedback reaches a top job candidate?

Your top candidate for an open position mentions having heard not-so-amazing feedback about your company. It may be a negative online review scrawled by a disgruntled employee, an offhand comment made by a customer, or a legitimate concern by someone who knows your company.

How do you find out what was said? And most importantly, how do you handle this potentially awkward moment with your top candidate?

First, deep breaths

Before you do anything else, make sure you convey an open-minded level-headedness. Take a moment to settle your thoughts, and remind yourself that it’s a good thing that the candidate brought this up.

Thank the prospect for bringing up the concern


In mentioning the negative feedback, your candidate is demonstrating skills that you should want in all your employees:

  • Communicates openly and directly
  • Feels comfortable enough to chime in when necessary
  • Does research to stay on top of news regarding your company

Also, this situation gives you an opportunity to clarify any misconceptions regarding your company. That’s far better than having a new employee ruminating over potential gossip about you. Rather than get defensive about the concern brought up, thank the candidate for mentioning it so you can address it directly.

Briefly discuss the concern

After you’ve listened to the candidate share the negative feedback they’ve heard, address it.

For example, was the concern about a lack of career paths at your company? If your company has a program set up for advancement, mention them now. This is a great opportunity to discuss what your company offers its employees.

However, if your company doesn’t promote career growth, you may want to let the candidate know that you’re working on a plan to foster promotions (if your organization actually is doing so). If there aren’t plans to create career paths, this is the time to say so as well.

Your goal is to find the best fit. If this concern is a deal-breaker, it’s best to know upfront rather than hire and then lose an employee (which will then foster more negative feedback).

Remain courteous and non-combative at all times

People talk a lot when they’re in the midst a job hunt. When you’ve finished this interview, you can assume that the candidate is going to talk about the experience with family, friends, whoever he comes into contact with.

So, if the prospect still seems concerned after you address the issue, remain patient and ask what’s still bothering him. And address it again. But always remains calm as you do so.

Losing your cool, getting defensive, and treating the candidate rudely will all work against you as soon as this exchange is over.

You can’t control what a person thinks or believes. But you can control how you handle the situation and behave in a way that you won’t regret later.

Outsource the potential awkwardness

If your company is emerging from a hard time and now starting afresh, some negative feedback may still be circulating in social circles. You may decide to outsource your hiring rather than explain that fact to job candidates, and that’s fine.

At Mankuta | Gallagher, we reach out to hundreds of potential hires during a project, and we sometimes hear feedback regarding specific departments and hiring managers.

Because we have experience in really talking to people, we know how to get the specific details and handle negative feedback effectively and constructively. We can address concerns from your top candidates in a professional yet friendly tone while keeping your company’s best interest in mind as well.

Plus, we report these opinions anonymously to you as part of a comprehensive project report. It’s just another benefit of the built-in market survey that comes free with each project.

Give us a call and find out how we can fill this position for you, so you can focus on other critical tasks.