The interview is the backbone of the hiring process. It’s usually the first chance employers get to speak with candidates face-to-face (or through a screen) and contributes a large portion of the information hiring managers use to make their final decisions. Interviews can make or break a candidate so it’s important to get them right. But it’s not just the candidates who need to worry about interviewing properly. Hiring teams can inadvertently cost themselves strong employees by making a few common interviewing mistakes. Next time you hire, what pitfalls should you avoid as you head into your interview rounds?
5 interview mistakes to avoid
It’s easy to make mistakes when you’re not sure where you’re going wrong. The list below, however, is a good starting point to identify some areas where your interview process might need some improvement.
Mistake #1: Not preparing for an interview
What would you think of a candidate who rolls in with no preparation? You probably wouldn’t be impressed if they forgot important details or referred to their notes a lot, yet this is common behaviour for hiring managers. Yes, managers are often stretched thin and might not have time to learn everything about all candidates, but you should still make time to have a sound interview plan and take a few minutes to review a candidate’s resume. Walk into every interview knowing the basics about who you’re about to talk to. That will keep the conversation on track and improve the first impression you’ll be making on your candidate.
Mistake #2: Failing to clearly articulate job requirements
So often we see people trying to hire without really knowing what they’re looking for. They know they need a certain amount of bodies in seats, but don’t have a clear target of what success in a role actually looks like. If you don’t know what you’re trying to hire for, how will you find the right person? How will you even create a job description that accurately reflects what you’re looking for? Instead, spend some time before you start hiring to define exactly what it is your new hire will need. Assessments, such as the McQuaig Job Survey, can help you do this by compiling feedback from employees already in the role, key stakeholders with knowledge of a role, or by selecting from a list of desired traits. Once you have a benchmark created of what you’re looking for, it’s easier to find candidates who will match it.
Mistake #3: Depending solely on the interview to make a hiring decision
Another common mistake is to focus too much on the interview. Sure, it provides a wealth of candidate insight to guide your decision-making process but you should never hire using only one method of collecting information. Making the right hiring choice should come from data gathered from multiple sources to build a more complete picture of who your candidate is. Consider two candidates, one who aced the interview and one who stumbled. On the surface that might be an easy decision to make, but what if your great interviewer has a lot to say without being able to walk their talk? Without learning more about their skills, traits, experience, and motivations, you won’t know which of your two candidates is truly the best fit for you. Combine your structured interview approach with phone screening, background checks, technical tests, and candidate assessments to uncover the insight needed to make the right choice.
Mistake #4: Not planning interview questions in advance
This one ties back into the idea of not being prepared. Make sure you have a list of questions you want to ask before your next job interview so you don’t waste time with a candidate or ask a question that will take you on a tangent. Interviews are your best chance to probe any possible red flag areas with a job seeker and get a better sense of their future potential. Usually all in an hour or less. There are endless lists of good interview questions you can access online but when it doubt, try to stick to behavioural interview questions. These types of questions invite candidates to do more than answer yes or no and can be a good opportunity for storytelling. Try to avoid the old standards now like “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?” or the dreaded “Tell me about yourself.” Any candidate with 5 minutes of preparation will have an answer to these questions ready to go. Instead, try asking questions they won’t have already prepared for a more authentic interview. Again, assessments can assist in this area by providing an interview question guide that is filled with behavioural interview questions designed to match your candidate.
Mistake #5: Forgetting to follow up with candidates
Many, many HR and hiring managers are guilty of this one. The candidate black hole is still alive and well and it really needs to stop. It takes minutes to follow up with unsuccessful candidates to let them know the outcome of your recruiting search and the benefits are undeniable. Most importantly, it’s kind and lets the candidate know they should move on instead of stringing them along while they check their email for months. Following up also improves your employer brand as candidates leave feeling seen by your company. Plus it helps your future talent pools if you can maintain positive relationships with candidates and invite them to apply again. Interviewees put a lot of time and effort into participating in your hiring process. Treat them with the respect they deserve and let them know your hiring outcomes.
Stop making interview mistakes
We all know how intensive the job search process can be for candidates so let’s make sure they don’t face a messy interview at the same time. When you need to hire for a new job, spend some time preparing in advance to make sure all your bases are covered before you speak to a candidate. Try to avoid common job interview questions and think of different ways of collecting knowledge. Assessments can be a useful tool to keep interviews on track and provide hiring managers with a great deal of candidate insight to inform their questions. Every hiring manager should make time for interview preparation before they meet with candidates because how they interview can directly impact the effectiveness of their company and teams. It shouldn’t be a rushed decision but a targeted, thoughtful search that, in the end, leads to the very best person for the job.