Eight interview mistakes hiring managers make

By November 29, 2016Hiring Advice
Hiring Advice Interview mistakes

Yes, there are a lot of avoidable gaffes that job seekers can make during the interview. But what about the interview mistakes that hiring managers make? Their disorganized or disgruntled approach might be leading talented candidates to turn down the job offer – or even refuse a second interview.

And interview mistakes are a problem in more ways than one. It means a longer time-to-fill, of course, but it can also hurt your employer brand if the offended candidate shares their experience. It can also affect your bottom line; according to a recent study, 69 per cent of candidates are less likely to buy from a brand in the future if they have a bad interview experience. So if you’re having trouble filling roles, it’s important to consider your – and your hiring managers’ – interview etiquette.

During your next hiring process, look for these eight interview mistakes hiring managers make.

1. Arriving late

Being on time for a job interview is rule number one for interviewees. Yet, somehow, hiring managers think nothing of leaving a nervous candidate stewing in the lobby while they finish off a few more emails. Nothing screams “your time isn’t valuable” quite like keeping someone waiting. Short of a serious crisis (which should be communicated as quickly as possible), interviews should start on-time, every time.

2. Acting distracted

Yes, you’re busy. Plus, you’re short-handed, which is why you’re eager to fill this important role with an ace candidate. But checking texts and emails – or even taking a phone call – distracts you from picking up on the subtle but important signals that your candidate is sending out. It also interrupts the candidate’s chain of thought – and it’s spectacularly rude.

3. Searching for a superhero

It’s bad enough to fill your job posting with unbelievably unrealistic demands: five university degrees, fluency in four languages, two decades of previous experience, and so on. But bringing those expectations into the interview – and dwelling on them instead of your candidate’s actual qualifications – can be confusing and belittling. It’s fine to be selective, but be realistic. For more job posting tips and templates, download Workopolis’ free Practical Guide to Writing Job Postings.

4. Not knowing what you’re interviewing for

There are a lot of reasons to have a detailed scope of the job you’re looking to fill. Most importantly, it helps HR to craft a job posting that will snare qualified candidates. But in the interview, it also ensures that your questions are on-topic and that the information you’re providing to your candidates is clear and concise. Nothing scares an interviewee away faster than ambiguity.

5. Asking ridiculous questions

This mistake takes many forms. It can mean not catering questions to the specific job – for example, asking about resolving workplace conflict makes sense for a potential project manager, but not a delivery driver. It can also mean asking weird, obscure, or even existential questions. You might be trying to see how your candidates thinks on their feet, but you’ll just come off unprofessional.

6. Forgetting to read the resume in front of you

This is top of the grievance list for many seekers: a hiring manager sits down in an interview, only to admit they haven’t even glanced at the candidate’s CV. This sends the message that the manager is disengaged and over-stressed – and not someone you want to work with full-time.

7. Being too stern

Hiring and firing is a serious business, and the job interview is no place to try out your new stand-up routine. But it’s also not a criminal trial. A smile or a little gentle humour (work appropriate, of course) breaks the ice, and sets the tone for the workplace – an extra-important consideration when it’s the candidate’s first time in the office.

8. Acting cold or impolite

This is an obvious no-no, yet it happens all the time. It’s surprisingly common for a hiring manager to be curt and fire off questions as if the interview is an interrogation, which in turn makes the candidate clam up. The interviewer can also fail to be even cursorily conversational, which can mean they miss out on uncovering valuable hidden talents. In short: kindness is a win-win situation.

While these interview mistakes are the most common, there are other that are far more serious. Ageism, sexism, racism, and all the other nefarious isms that are prohibited by law can worm their way into our psyches without constant vigilance. Remember to enter every interview with an open mind.

See also:
What you should be asking in a video interview
7 steps to a successful telephone interview


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