Yes, there are a lot of avoidable gaffes that job seekers can make during the interview process. But what about the interview mistakes that hiring managers make? Without realizing it, you might be persuading talented candidates to turn down a job offer (or worse, refuse a second interview).
If this starts to happen often, it can cause a number of problems, including a longer time-to-fill, and a damaged employer brand. It can also affect your bottom line; according to a study, 69 per cent of candidates are less likely to buy from a brand if they have a bad interview experience.
So if you’re having trouble filling roles, it’s important to consider your interview etiquette. Are you making some easily avoidable mistakes?
Here are eight interview mistakes hiring managers sometimes 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. Aside from a serious crisis (which should be communicated as quickly as possible), interviews should start on-time, every time.
“When we talk about employer branding, it often starts with these kinds of experiences,” says Shawn D’Souza, Talent Acquisition Manager at Workopolis. “Don’t forget that the interviewee is also trying to decide if he or she wants to work for your company, so if a hiring manager shows up late, it can really create a negative impression,” he says.
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.
“It’s a question of respect and treating people the way you’d like to be treated. Would you like it if someone started looking at their phone while you were in the middle of saying something? Probably not, so make sure you don’t treat applicants the same way. Remember that everything you do reflects the brand,” D’Souza says.
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.
“The same way you’d expect an applicant to come prepared and to have researched your company, you and your hiring manager should be well-informed about the role’s tasks, responsibilities, and place in the organization. An interviewee should leave wanting to work for your company, and this can only come when they have a clear sense of what the day-to-day looks like, and how they would fit into the overall structure,” D’Souza says.
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.
“Sure, it’s entertaining to know if a person would rather fight one horse-sized duck or 100 duck-sized horses, but I think it’s debatable how valuable that answer is to your hiring decision,” D’Souza says.
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.
“It again goes back to being prepared. The more time you spend looking into the applicant’s qualifications and background, the better the interview will be, and the easier it will be to determine if they are the right fit for your company,” D’Souza says.
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.
“There are a lot of formalities involved with interviews, but in the end, it’s really just a conversation. You want people to be relaxed and honest, so remember to keep it friendly,” D’Souza says.
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.