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Decoding feedback

An article on how to decode typical feedback
students looking through documents
© University of York

You’ve requested feedback following your interview, which you’ve now received, but what does it all really mean?

On the whole feedback should be…

  • Specific
  • Honest
  • Non-judgmental
  • Say what the interviewer directly saw or heard.

Numerical vs descriptive feedback

As we mentioned in the previous step, it can be standard for medical schools (and some others) to only provide numerical feedback. If this is the case for you, the feedback should be per station/mini interview and will allow you to see which stations you did well on and which you need to improve.

Positive words

Often candidates at university interview will only ask for feedback if they have been unsuccessful, however this doesn’t mean that your feedback will be all negative – we promise that there will have been positive parts of your interview! Look out for typical adjectives such as ‘excellent’, ‘outstanding’, ‘knowledgeable’ etc. or anything that talks about your strengths.

Areas to improve

Good interview feedback should make suggestions for how to improve, or for the case of numerical feedback, allow the candidate to understand which areas of an interview need to be worked on for the future. Often this will be based around the actual interview performance, for example if you let nerves get the better of you, if you don’t have enough work experience (for certain courses that require it, often Teaching), or you need to work on certain skill areas.

It is really important for us to point out here that if you are given corrective feedback, this is not a polite way of the interviewer saying you gave a terrible interview! It is meant in a supportive way for you to improve. No one knows everything the first time round and interview feedback is a great way of being able to receive information objectively that can support you to advance your interview skills.

Have a look at the following phrases you may find in university interview feedback. Comment in the discussion below what you think they mean

  • Difficulty developing topics further
  • Deeper thought needed
  • Mixed performance
  • Committed to a point without any further consideration.
© University of York
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