The Feedback Report – An output of every process involving candidates completing assessment exercises is a detailed feedback report for each candidate. This report is used as the basis for a feedback session facilitated by the HR/ L&D team, Line Managers or assessors.
Content of the report
The feedback report covers the assessment of how well candidates matched the criteria (usually competencies/ leadership behaviours), specific to each exercise (usually roleplay and written style exercises).
The feedback is based on performance evaluations completed by assessors. It will include quotes taken from candidate written and verbal responses and the assessor’s evaluation of how these demonstrate the desirable behaviours built into the structure of the exercises.
Original, full-length assessments should be edited to create final feedback reports. A ‘tidied-up version’ ensures clients and candidates are able to focus on performance and areas for improvement rather than getting caught up in specific details of each exercise which may be difficult to remember and relate to after the assessment event.
Original assessment statements which tie into the individual scores should be available should they be required, but a carefully written feedback report should make viewing these unnecessary.
Candidates often wish to see their scores, although there is an argument for not including these on the feedback report. This is because candidates can be more focused on the numbers if these appear on the report, to the detriment of the written feedback. Some organisations do supply these to candidates in addition to their feedback.
Most feedback statements will begin with an indication of score attracted e.g.; ‘You demonstrated no/ limited/ some or significant evidence of…’
Candidates who score close to the cut off for a successful/ unsuccessful result may query their assessments and wish to have it re-marked. This is where having a robust process, with external, professional assessors is helpful. It is useful to have a statement or policy on this in advance. Here is our statement for client use, as an example:
Case studies and roleplays are marked by occupational psychologists who have significant experience working in this sector. Role-play assessors liaise at the start of an assessment process to benchmark scores and performance expectations. There are generally only two assessors per exercise, to maintain consistency. The scoring process is designed to support assessment decisions with defined statements under the relevant leadership qualities, which the assessor must then provide supporting evidence for. Borderline scores for each exercise are re-checked by the centre manager and 10% of all case study papers are double marked to ensure consistency.
Objective of the report
The objective of the feedback report is to provide a review of exercise specific performance, as well as simple guidance notes on how this can be applied in a practical way in the workplace.
Development of management behaviours in the workplace can be challenging. Post-assessment, candidates can feel that they don’t have anything clear to show their line manager as a guide for further support and development. With a carefully written feedback report, candidates should be able to take this document to their line manager and say ‘here’s what I could do better, can we talk about how I can do that?’
Many organisations need to move away from the cultural perception that feedback is predominantly used in a negative way. The feedback report enables organisations to promote internal coaching and mentoring, on-the-job learning and utilising experience already within the team.
The feedback report can also support candidates to be proactive about their own future development. Facilitators in feedback sessions can use a coaching style to build upon this.
The report will help the line manager to understand what further support they need to offer. For example, getting involved in a working group by shadowing a more experienced member; taking debriefs/ training sessions and getting feedback on their approach; having responsibility for a small team to introduce a change. Candidates may have their own ideas as well.
The report should also allow the line manager to understand the candidate’s performance without needing to interpret the information, since they won’t have seen the exercises. For instance, the feedback might highlight that the candidate tended not to use enough questioning in the roleplay, or use all the data available to them in the case study. Development guidance statements highlighting these factors mean that the line manager can build practice and review of this more regularly at work to improve their potential as a manager.
It depends on the organisation if candidates will be given their feedback reports in person during the verbal feedback session or receive it in advance. For a telephone session we’d suggest that reports not be given out more than 24 hours before the feedback appointment.
Candidates may request their original answers i.e. the case study script or the notes made of their roleplay conversation. Unless this is required for something specific such as a grievance process it is preferable that this is not shared, as it undermines the confidentiality of the materials. There is enough detail in the report that these notes would not add any value to their feedback. If original answers are required, we request that the client shares these with the candidate in a meeting so the content can be discussed. The originals should not be available to the candidate outside of this meeting.
With VCA’s feedback documents there are two feedback reports, one for the case study, one for the roleplay, which is our Career Progression Gateway online assessment process. Other organisations may choose to combine their assessments into one report.
- Page 1: name, date, introductory statement and overview of leadership (or competency) performance, described as ‘requires development’ or ‘meets required standard’.
- Page 2- 5: a summary of performance for each of the four criteria headings (each broken down into three distinct constructs per exercise).
- Page 6: developmental guidance statements; suggestions based on exercise performance.
Creating user-friendly and practical feedback reports is time-consuming. At VCA we use an automated system which involves populating the report with the fields completed by assessors during their assessment of exercise performance. Assessors complete an original evaluation, and then insert an edited version into a ‘summary box’. The content of the summary boxes populate the feedback report. Assessors also identify key developmental actions for each of the criteria for each exercise, which auto-populate the developmental guidance section at the end of the report. Because the reports are written by assessors, they are personalised and unique to each individual. By automating how the reports are generated, and using assessors who are experienced in being able to adapt their evidence for both client and candidate use, saves time and improves quality of the reports.
VCA deliver telephone feedback sessions to candidates. These are facilitated by VCA assessors involved in the project. Sessions last up to 45 minutes. It can be an appealing option for HR managers who are short of time and prefer external support from an impartial source.
In the telephone feedback session we discuss with candidates their performance on the exercises and how they can take these on board and action them i.e. in conjunction with their line manager. We help them identify ways they could address areas where they need more experience or could benefit from the experience of others.
Format of the feedback session (this may not be followed in a linear way, and there may not be time to cover everything depending on the individual)
- Assessor introduction
- Address candidate expectations for the call
- Discuss confidentiality
- Clarify candidate’s experience of the assessment i.e. did it match expectations?
- Discuss exercise criteria and what this might look like – not specific to the exercises – but in terms of next management level behaviours
- Brief reminder of the exercise
- Explain the use of evidence and how it is used to allocate scores (i.e. to demonstrate real understanding rather than just mention of key words).
- Discussion of key points of positive performance
- Sense check/ and discuss areas in need of development/ under-performance
- Summarise key achievements
- Draw broader conclusions of overall performance in a workplace context and look at development themes
- Reflect on candidate’s view of strengths and weaknesses and highlight areas for improved performance in assessments e.g. providing rationale for thinking in written exercises, ensuring links to the background info, think individual, team and org, without forgetting the customer…etc.
- Explore key themes in more detail to formulate developmental action plans, acknowledging individual preferences and opportunities for support
In addition to the described structure, the assessors will likely address the following:
- Highlighting the benefit of working with line managers to address the development points in the report.
- Support candidates to be proactive about their own development by encouraging ideas of actions they could take to develop certain areas; identify what support they might need and what they could do to find this i.e. from line manager, training dept, seeking mentors etc.
- Building on their strengths- anything they can suggest as to how they could benefit others using their strengths e.g. coaching/ mentoring more junior members of the watch, suggesting involvement in projects/ forums, setting up groups/ initiatives.
VCA send a short review post-feedback process, maintaining individual confidentiality, providing an overview of emerging themes related to culture, development areas and anything else of note.
In cases where further coaching would be of benefit to an individual candidate we offer a series of follow-up session (usually four) with the assessing psychologist.
It’s useful for the client to also manage expectation regarding the session i.e. that the telephone feedback sessions won’t include going over the exercises in very specific detail, or provide specific guidance on the ‘how to pass’ an assessment. Neither is it best use of the time if the candidate focuses on justifying their responses.
The client may wish to remind candidates that assessors won’t be able to answer organisational or procedural questions regarding career progression.
VCA Ltd is a team of Occupational Psychologists, led by company director Hannah Vallance, who specialise in assessment and development for the emergency services. Hannah has worked with the Fire & Rescue Service for twenty years, designing assessment centres, delivering useable, developmental feedback and changing organisational culture through workshops and leadership/ competency framework development. VCA’s flagship service is their increasingly popular Career Progression Gateway system, an online portal which assesses Firefighters for recruitment and promotion from initial entry to strategic manager level.
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