Organizing and overseeing job interviews is a tough skill to master, and even experienced interviewers can make mistakes without realizing it.
If you don’t want to let top talent slip through your fingers, the following missteps should be on your radar so that you can avoid them.
Dragging out the interviews unnecessarily
A combination of long interviews and protracted assessment processes can mean that the best candidates either don’t accept an offer if you make one, or have already accepted another role before you get round to contacting them for a follow-up.
Very few positions benefit from having interviews that last for more than an hour, and you also need to be efficient in dealing with the next stages. The longer the delay, the more chance you’ll miss out.
Not providing adequate information
Sometimes suitable applicants won’t fare well during an interview because they haven’t been provided with the necessary info and materials to properly prepare ahead of time.
You want to do all that you can to ensure prospects shine, rather than artificially limiting their ability to demonstrate their true potential.
Overlooking cultural fit
Even if a person has the right experience and qualifications for a position, they won’t thrive and gel with the rest of the team if their values and ethos aren’t aligned with the culture of the company as a whole.
As such you need to ask questions that probe into the personality of the individuals on the other side of the table. For example, asking behavioral questions about past projects they’ve worked on can help you tell whether they’re a team player, an effective communicator, or a self-starter who prefers to work alone.
There’s a lot you can tap into in seemingly innocuous answers, which is why many of the top employers worldwide make behavioral questions a main cog in the interview process.
Ignoring body language
Another way to gauge the cultural fit of a candidate is to take note of their body language, and determine how this might impact their suitability for a given position.
If you’re looking for someone who’s able to communicate clearly and engage effectively with others, you need to see good eye contact and also indicators that they are listening to your questions intently. Sometimes it’s worth giving more weight to non-verbal abilities in the face of verbal responses that aren’t top-notch because of this.
Dominating the room
An interview is an opportunity to allow prospective employees to prove themselves to you. They’ll struggle to do this if most of the talking is done by the interviewer.
Dominating the conversation isn’t just a time sink, but it can actively put off candidates if they feel like they aren’t being given the opportunity to express themselves.
In fact some candidates may actively attempt to get you talking, perhaps by referencing some topic that’s of interest to you, because it will make you more amenable to them. Thus being clear, concise and measured is important from more than one perspective.
Ignoring flaws because of an emotional connection
It’s all too easy to make an assessment of a person before they’ve even turned up for the interview, but just because you’re blown away by their resume and charmed by their appearance and manner, that doesn’t mean they’re right for the job.
In fact, because we are all emotional creatures, it’s easy for our initial connection with a person to override other information we receive later on.
Achieving objectivity is difficult in a one-to-one interview context, which is why it generally helps to have a second opinion so that your judgment isn’t clouded by your feelings.
Making snap decisions
We mentioned that it’s not a good idea to delay post-interview decision-making for too long, but it’s equally important to avoid rushing into a choice in the immediate aftermath.
Take time after an interview to reflect on the entire interaction, rather than going with whatever feeling you had right after it ended.
It’s only with this more measured approach that you can distill all that was discussed and come to a more objective conclusion.
Asking leading questions
If an applicant knows what answers you want them to give to interview questions, they will spend more time spinning you an image of what you want to see from the ideal candidate, rather than giving an accurate representation of what they’re actually like.
This is where it is best to avoid questions which lead interviewees towards a particular answer. For example, if you ask someone if they’re a team player, they’ll obviously say that they are, because it will be apparent that this is what you want for the role. Instead, get them to give an example of how they’ve performed in a collaborative scenario, and you’ll get a much clearer picture of the real person.
You’d expect exceptional professional conduct from candidates at an interview, so it’s just as necessary to adhere to the same high standards yourself if you want quality talent to accept job offers.
Being late to the interview if you’re running is a major red flag, as is holding the interview in a part of your premises that doesn’t feel well cared-for. If the interview is taking place remotely, keeping up a professional appearance and making sure there are no distractions during the process must be a priority.
The bottom line
The more interviews you conduct, the better you will get at handling what can be a complicated and intense process.
Most of all, be sure to not just give feedback to candidates post-interview, but also ask for their input on how they found the experience. This can help you to pinpoint any mistakes you don’t realize you’re making, and fix them in future scenarios so that your company can attract and retain outstanding employees.