Writing exceptional interview feedback

Despite really only needing to have a few qualities to be exceptional, most people find writing interview feedback to be intimidating at best, to terrifying at worst. Exceptional interview feedback has a few essential qualities: clear, concise, containing additional data for the reader to dive deeper into. It clearly outlines (at least at Amazon) which competencies rise above the bar (i.e. the theoretical average of that skill across everyone who has and uses that skill…) whether they are functional competencies or Amazon’s leadership principals or (at your company) your organization’s key values.

Why do people find this so difficult? I have a couple of theories. 1) No one likes passing judgement on someone AND THEN FINDING THEY WERE WRONG. Well, I get past that by realizing we’re all getting only a tiny slice of a candidate’s overall story, and we could put the wrong frame on their answer — but even with the right framing, we still don’t have anything near the whole story, and that’s just how it is. 2) Like any skill, writing good feedback takes time to learn. The key here: “like any skill”… and I add “worth doing” to the end of that. So, like any skill that’s worth doing, writing exceptional feedback takes time to learn, so I might as well start yesterday. I have a couple other guesses but they don’t seem broadly applicable, so I’ll leave it with those two key concerns. Now that you know how I get past those concerns, hopefully you’ll get started faster in your own learning journey.

I use a very particular process to interview, prepare to write feedback, organize my interview notes and my feedback itself, and then to de-bias my nearly complete feedback. I’ve crafted this process over more than 200 interviews at Amazon and other companies, and I think it works pretty well by now. I will explain that process in the next post.

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