With more and more of our work now being done remotely, how can we make sure candidates are getting as much from phone feedback as they do from a face to face interaction?

Feedback fairly quickly after an assessment is incredibly useful, the immediacy means that candidates can link what they did in the scenario to what they need to do to improve.

We asked our Occupational Psychologist assessors for their best advice for delivering useful and developmental feedback sessions over the phone.


Starting off

“It’s important to frame the purpose of the session initially, setting clear expectations and agreeing parameters and boundaries e.g. that it’s not a counselling session, not a discussion of organisational problems etc.”

“I ask them how they found the experience at the outset, and explore that, it can give an insight into any potential issues with sitting this sort of assessment. This discussion can then lead to advice, for example on time-management and how to cope with the pressure of timed exercises.”

“Ask what they think went well, and might have done differently. Assessors generally find that most people already have an idea about what they might have done to improve. It’s much easier to offer feedback that will be accepted by building on their own thoughts.”


Constructive approach

“It can be good to let them start off with what they want to talk about. Sometimes you need to work through the detail of why they got a particular comment in one exercise which is bothering them, before they can look at the bigger picture.”

“I find it useful to get them to reflect on the impact of their attitudes and behaviour on others by asking them to consider how others might perceive things and how it might make them feel.”

“Avoid getting into an argument. Simply repeat what was noticed. I stick to the format – ‘when you did or said x, it had this impact / effect (on role-player)…if you had done y, it would have had this (improved) result.’”

“I often remember a friend who didn’t get through a promotion process and was upset about it for a long time. He felt that the organisation was saying he wasn’t good at his job. I try to get across that current performance and assessment for a future role are different things.” 

“Focusing on strengths and being encouraging, but also ensuring they are clear on development areas.”


Highlighting behaviours

“Focusing on the facts and examples keeps everything very objective. Steer candidates away from trying to justify the outcomes of their response. Simply provide an accurate representation of the information they supplied (performance) and the evaluation this learned (feedback)”

“It is no good being too specific on the details of the exercise. Chances are these will be a bit of a blur so make your comments more general to introduce the performance area, and if you need to use verbatim quotes the context will be easier to relate to.”

“Use their own words (verbatim quotes are hard to counter).”

“If there is multiple evidence from multiple exercises for a certain behaviour, this needs to be made clear. They might not accept it on the day but it is likely to have an impact over the coming days.”


Development actions

“Ensure the feedback session ends with clear self-development ideas.

“I try to end with getting them to list what they will take forward as self-development actions to work on.”

“Ask what advice they would give themselves, based on the feedback, and build on this with some ideas for development.”

“Focus on overall themes, helping the individual to think about 2 or 3 take aways that will make an impact on their role or future career aspirations. Get them to summarise these at the end.”


Beyond the session

“Ideally feedback needs to be part of an ongoing process i.e. take feedback on-board, altered approach, further feedback- the equivalent of saying ‘a bit higher’ or ‘a bit lower’ when you’re trying to hit a target! Explore whether there is someone who could continue the guidance. This could be a line manager or someone who could take the role of coach or mentor.”

“Praising individuals for their effort and not their ‘talent’ has a measurable impact on performance.  When we praise for effort, we support a growth mind-set. It encourages others to persevere on challenging tasks without loss in confidence in the face of struggle.”

Without the benefit of being able to build rapport face-to-face, these strategies can help you find your style to maximise a ‘remote’ feedback session. Whatever the type of interaction, providing feedback will allow you to respond to questions and delve into the candidates own perspective, to build on the written feedback provided.



If you’d like help delivering feedback sessions, our team of assessors can offer further support.

Click here to drop us a message and we will get back to you straight away.