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7 Common Mistakes Interviewers Are Guilty Of And How To Avoid Them

Interview

It’s very easy to come across advice on things not to do in a job interview.  However, there seems to be far little out there for interviewers. 

Remember, interview's are a two way street and therefore it's essential that interviewers know how to get the best out of candidates and how not to sabotage their own recruitment process. 

No interviewer wants their interview style to leave candidates feeling put off, confused and awkward but almost every interviewer will have made these mistakes at one point, so here’s how to avoid them in the future….

  1. Fail To Prepare = Prepare To Fail

Interviewers expect that candidates should come well prepared for the interview, and you should do the same.

There is nothing worse than an interviewer who is clearly unprepared. Showing up unprepared, is a direct reflection of the value you place on a candidate's time, on how organised you are as a manager and as a business business. 

The interview is not the time to be reading the candidates cv for the first time.

Thankfully, all of the above can be avoided 🙂

  • Ahead of the interview, set aside some time to read through the candidates CV and make note of points that need further clarification, highlight points that you find interesting, and include these amongst your questions. 
  • Consider the likely questions a candidate will ask about the role and how you will answer them.
  • If your interviewing a candidate for a role not in your team, make sure you take time to talk with the hiring manager about what role the candidate is interviewing for and what stage they are in the process

2. Time, Time, Time!

Turning up late to the interview is poor form and can give the impression you don’t regard the interview as important and affect a candidates performance. 

Likewise, rushing the interview because you have another meeting to attend is rude, and can damage your reputation. Candidates may spend hours preparing for an interview, turn up ready to give their best only to be greeted with a rushed  15 minutes. This is not acceptable.  

To avoid this in the future

  • Make a concerted effort to clear at least 20 minutes either side of the interview. 
  • Make sure you schedule enough time with a candidate to determine whether he or she is right for the job.
  • If you know that you have a meeting prior that might over run, let the candidate know in advance. If you working with a recruiter, tell the consultant to tell the candidate you might be slightly behind and offer to reschedule if necessary

3. Couldn't care less

There's a very thin line between coming across as relaxed VS not interested. 

An interviewer who seems entirely uninterested in what a candidate has to say, is a major red flag.  Candidates can quickly feel when you’re less than enthusiastic about them and this completely throws them off and makes for a poor candidate experience. 

You should always ensure that every candidate that you interview feels engaged with you as a person and consequently the business. This is increasingly importing during the new era of video interviews. It's not just the obvious things, subconscious behaviours can also let you down – from not making eye contact to fidgeting, yawning and looking around the room.

A bad experience with you = a bad impression of the company.

How to be fully engaged:

  • Sitting up straight
  • Leaning in when they speak
  • Asking follow up questions and sounding genuinely interested
  • Maintaining eye contact
  • Smiling and nodding as they answer
  • Taking notes

4. Allowing Bias

Pay attention to the time between interviews. When you've just finished an interview with a really strong candidate that you got on well with, it's likely that the next interviewee will find it much harder to impress you. 

Seeing a good candidate and a poor candidate one after the other could make you see the good candidate as being better due to the contrast. 

How to reduce bias:

• Avoid doing interviews back-to-back to back and allow sometime between the interviews, to ensure you can consider each candidate on their own merit.

• Use scorecards to list the key skills you require from candidates. Measuring each candidate objectively against the same criteria will help to avoid bias. This is extremely important! Without it, you won’t be able to assess your candidates’ answers in an objective and transparent way.  

 

5. Negative Nelly

This might sound like an obvious thing to avoid, but you'll be surprised that it happens quite often. Interviews are not the time to bond over negative experiences. Saying anything negative about your role, colleagues, manager, the business or industry, is bound to leave your candidate feeling a uneasy.

Fortunately, this one is easily avoidable:

• Ensure the conversation is focused on the role and the candidates ability to fill it.

• Don't discuss person issues or problems

• Don't talk negatively about anyone or anything, whether it's a current or past colleague, company, competitor 

 

6. Jumping to conclusions:

Even though an interview can be 30 minutes or longer, decisions can often occur within the first few minutes.  Interviewers can misinterpret a candidates answer, view it unfavourably and use the remaining time to build their case and support the decision.

To ensure you are giving every candidate a fair interview:

• Instead of Instead of jumping to conclusions, rephrase your candidates’ answer and check if you understood them correctly. 

• Ensure you are taking effective notes (see below)

 

7. No Notes

It’s impossible to remember everything a candidate said – unless you take notes! Interviewers who don’t take notes, will struggle to objectively compare between candidates they met today vs last week. Notes are the only way to remind yourself of each candidate. 

To ensure you are taking effective notes:

• Don’t use a laptop because it creates a physical barrier between you and the candidate, which is off-putting. 

• Use scorecards printed out on paper and uses them to make notes.

By following these tips, minimising bias and avoiding mistakes, we can conduct effective interviews, that enable ALL candidates to have a positive experience and portray their best selves. 

This will help us to spot and hire the best talent! For further insight into interview best practice, contact me at Sinead.willis@propellondon.com

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