is this internal feedback on job candidates unprofessional?

A reader writes:

I’m new to owning the hiring process at my company. Sometimes when I send hiring managers candidates, they reply with comments that I don’t think are appropriate or professional like “Nope,” or “Meh.”

Am I being sensitive or is this not okay? Even if it is unprofessional, should I just let it slide? I thought of perhaps saying something like, “Appreciate the candid feedback. It’s most helpful for me to find candidates you’re going to be interested in if you can give me feedback like ‘Doesn’t look like she has experience in X’ or ‘I don’t want to move forward with this person because of Y’ because that will help me filter people moving forward.”


I don’t think “nope” is at all inappropriate or unprofessional. “Meh” isn’t the most descriptive, certainly, but it’s commonly accepted shorthand for “not particularly interested or blown away.” Obviously it’s not something you’d say to the candidates themselves, but this is internal shorthand and it’s not at all out of the ordinary for this context.

Inappropriate feedback would be something like “I want someone younger” or “she seems too religious” (i.e., feedback based on protected classes) or “We already have an employee named Sarah” (i.e., obvious evidence that they aren’t hiring well). But not simple shorthand, and not even blunt, un-sugarcoated feedback.

Now, if you want more detailed feedback on their thoughts on their candidates so that you can screen candidates more effectively in the future, that’s a different issue — and it’s certainly reasonable to ask for it and to explain that it will help you send them better candidates. But make sure you’re not taking them to task for the way in which they’ve been providing feedback up until now, because that wouldn’t be warranted by these replies. (Plus, if you’re in HR, your role is to provide support to the hiring process, not manage the hiring managers, something that HR departments sometimes lose sight of .)

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