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Young women far less likely than young men to get feedback after a job interview

Figures reveal an alarming ‘recruitment gender gap’ in Britain

Young women are far less likely than young men to receive feedback after a job interview, research by the City & Guilds Group and Business in the Community (BITC) has revealed.

The survey of 4,000 young people (18-24 year olds) found that young women are at a stark disadvantage in recruitment practices. While 82% of young men receive feedback after applying, just under a third (30%) of young women are losing out on this vital constructive guidance. For young people applying for a job for the first time, constructive feedback can help them learn from their experiences, improve their applications and access future employment.

Young women generally found the experience of applying for a job more difficult, with 34% saying it was difficult versus just a quarter of men (26%). Of those who found the application process difficult, young women were more likely to say it knocked their confidence (49% vs 37% respectively). A quarter said the experience made them less likely to apply for other jobs, while 73% said it affected them generally, higher than for young men.

The findings make clear the importance of employers recognising the cost of poor recruitment processes, as a fifth of young women who had a bad experience said they were put off a company entirely. A further 11% said a bad experience put them off an entire industry, meaning valuable talent could be lost.

The findings follow earlier research by City & Guilds – part of the City & Guilds Group – into career expectations, which found that teenage girls expect to earn an annual salary of £36,876 within ten years of leaving education, 16% less than that their male peers expect to earn.

Other key findings include:

  • Only 37% of young women who did receive feedback said it was good, compared to 45% of men
  • Young men were more likely to do mock interviews than women (24% versus 17%)
  • Young women were more likely to prioritise working with friendly and helpful colleagues / managers than men (42% versus 30%)
  • NEETS are further disadvantaged in the recruitment process, with 40% not getting any feedback, compared to 29% of all young people
  • 70% of applicants in London were given feedback, compared to 60% in the South East and 48% in Northern Ireland

Speaking about the findings, Mikki Draggoo, Corporate Relations Director of the City & Guilds Group, said:

“This research shows that the gender gap exists even at the start of women’s careers. And that isn’t just harming young women – it affects businesses too. Employers could be missing out on talented women without even realising it, which is why they need to examine their recruitment practices and make sure they are inclusive.

“That kind of transparency will yield better talent for businesses – essential in our climate of slow growth and stagnant productivity. Employers can’t afford to lose talented employees before they even start their careers.”


Grace Mehanna, Director of Talent & Skills, BITC, said:

“Not providing feedback can have a damaging effect on confidence levels for young people. We recognise that it’s hard for employers with a high volume of applicants to provide individual feedback, but we would urge them to take a staged approach.

“For candidates who aren’t shortlisted, you can offer collective general yet informative feedback such as ‘top tips for applying’; alongside more tailored feedback for those who make it to interview. Our Future Proof campaign is asking employers to offer all young candidates some form of useful feedback, no matter what their background, race or gender.”

Amy King, Head of Consulting at the Chemistry Group, said:

“It’s shocking and disappointing to hear of statistics in 2016 that present a bleak reality of women lacking equality in the workplace, especially so early on in their careers. Despite awareness and progress over the past few decades, it indicates that recruitment is still riddled with bias.

“Organisations who look past gender by objectively defining ‘what great looks like’ specific to their roles and build processes to recruit and nurture talent against this are best placed to combat this issue. All of a sudden gender becomes irrelevant.

“Those who do, see better diversity and better business results. It seems that this only tackles half the problem, the second it is to address the self-perceptions, expectations and confidence of young women.

“This is best achieved by creating inclusive and supportive environments whilst giving women an opportunity to have voice, influence, and respect in the workplace. If we can achieve that, we’ll not only help our mums, daughters, sisters, aunts and friends but our society will ultimately prosper.”

The survey was carried out as part of Future Proof, a campaign and framework from Business in the Community (BITC) that’s backed by the City & Guilds Group to help businesses break down the barriers young people face in their recruitment processes.

The campaign aims to work with businesses to make recruitment processes more inclusive, fair and transparent. Not having open and transparent recruitment process can be a real barrier and deterrent for young applicants, and businesses could be missing out on recruiting the best young talent into their workforce.

As part of the framework, BITC has produced a guide for businesses on how they can make their recruitment processes more transparent for young people, including practical advice on how to offer constructive feedback to young candidates. The resources also include best practice case studies from organisations that are developing open and accessible recruitment processes to engage a broad range of applicants. Employers can also get a free bespoke report on their youth employment strategy.

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