After months of change and upheaval, we’ve all found new ways of doing things. When it comes to interviewing, however, what should you be trying to shake up? If you’re the sort of person who loves using common interview questions or making candidates jump through wild hoops for a new job then it might be time to switch up your approach. Interview bad habits are easy enough to fall into but they can derail your hiring process and cost you great candidates. Instead of relying on your typical approach, let’s explore 5 of the worst interview offenders and learn what you can do instead to gain a deeper understanding of who your candidate is.
Bad habits that need to be retired
Stop asking the same questions and answers. Stop returning to your old interview process. Bad interview habits can infect your hiring process but savvy recruiters know when they need to switch gears. If you are guilty of one of the following interview missteps, you’re not alone but there’s a better way to spend your time with a candidate.
#1) Stop asking the classics: Where do you see yourself in 5 years? Why should we hire you? What’s your biggest weakness? We’ve all been asked those questions before and odds are, everyone has an answer lined up and ready to go. Candidates want to give you the answers you’re looking for and when you dip into that stack of old faithful interview questions you can bet you’ll get a pre-rehearsed answer. The value of asking those questions, then, disappears since all you’ll really learn is if your candidate is prepared. Instead, ask open-ended questions that invite job seekers to share stories about their lives and experiences. This will lead to a more authentic interview experience with deeper insights to base next steps on.
#2) Avoid “wacky” questions: If you were a fruit, what kind of fruit would you be and why? Does anyone really care what the answer here is? Tricky or odd-ball questions like this are designed (in theory) to see how candidates think creatively and how they can defend their thought processes. But really, in 2021 aren’t there better ways to get at that sort of information? Instead of making your candidates puzzle about why manhole covers are round, ask them scenario-based questions to see how a candidate would think through a problem in a real-world situation. Understanding how a candidate would correct a mistake that’s been sent to a client, for example, is far more useful than figuring out whether you want to hire the candidate who picked strawberry or the one that went with pineapple.
#3) Gut instinct doesn’t cut it: And let’s be real, it never did. Hiring based on instinct is a very common way of finding talent but the problem is, it’s not very predictive of future success. Not to mention, the potential for biases to come into play in a gut decision is huge. Instead of trusting that you’ll automatically know the right hire when they sit in front of you, make a plan. Decide in advance what a successful candidate will look like and what skills or attributes they’ll need to have. Then structure your interview so you know what behavioural interview questions you’ll want to ask and when to give all your candidates a fair chance to answer. Whenever possible, use data instead of opinion to guide the hiring process. Leveraging assessments are one way of removing instinct from recruiting. They allow you to compare candidates more easily, and more fairly, and help you match candidates to your ideal profile without bringing instinct into the mix.
#4) In-person interviews are so last year: One thing the pandemic has taught us is change is inevitable. When companies around the world made the leap to remote work overnight, hiring had to follow. Now after months of recruiting during a pandemic, hiring managers are getting more used to online interviews over the classic face-to-face variety. The entire hiring process can now happen remotely and that allows for several benefits. You can connect with candidates anywhere, increasing your talent pool dramatically. Communication is faster with everyone wired in, making it easier to speed up the hiring process. And it’s more convenient all around if you can meet with candidates from wherever you’re most comfortable working. As the pandemic wanes we will no doubt see a return to old ways of interviewing but let’s try to remember why remote recruiting was so effective and what parts of it we’d like to retain.
#5) Tick-tock call your candidates: If you have an interviewee in your pipeline, don’t leave them hanging. Candidates constantly complain about the lack of respect their receive from potential employers and that bad taste that leaves. Instead of ghosting what could be some of your best candidates, make a system for how you’ll follow up and communicate with job seekers so that no one falls through the cracks. When it’s time for the job interview, be on time and try to think about your body language and background. Candidates are vetting you just as much as you’re vetting them so you want to convey that your workplace is where they want to be. Even after the interview, you can follow up with strong candidates with details about the company culture or teamwork tips. When you make a final decision, let all your runner-ups know so they can move on with their own search. When in doubt, simply be respectful of others and treat them well.
Get the most from your interviews
These days interviews are about more than making eye contact and answering common questions. You’re trying to figure out who your candidate is and what their potential will be. While you might be leveraging different types of interviews at the moment, phone, virtual, or in-person, the base strategy should be the same. Ditch old interview habits that take you off track and instead prepare for your candidates in advance. Decide what you’re looking for before you start interviewing and select specific questions to ask all your candidates. Be ready for their follow-up questions and make space for candidates to feel comfortable asking about anything else they want to know like possible co-workers, company culture, or even the organization’s pandemic response. So shake off those old interview favourites and refresh your process. If you get your interviews right, you just might find some great new talent to hire.