Amanda Groves

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Most recruiters and hiring managers are familiar with the kinds of mistakes that candidates often make when they’re being interviewed. What’s less obvious, however, are the things that they’re getting wrong themselves. Unfortunately, when interviewers make mistakes, it can turn top talent off and make them less likely to accept a position. Plus, it can result in hiring the wrong person for the job or, worse yet, open up your organization up to potential litigation.

Below we’ve compiled the top six interview mistakes that you’ve got to avoid when you’re conducting an interview:

  1. Being unprepared

Candidates are interviewing you just as much as you’re interviewing them. If it’s clear that you haven’t read their resume and that you have no clear structure for the interview, you won’t come off as an employer that’s good to work for. Remember, you’re representing your company. Take the time before the interview to determine how you’re going to conduct it, and familiarize yourself with the interviewee’s background and skills. Structuring the interview will help ensure that you can rate and score each candidate properly, and greatly increases the chances that they’ll have confidence in you as an interviewer.

  1. Talking too much

It’s always a good idea to use your words to put an interviewee at ease, but if it veers into the conversational, there’s a good chance you’ll end up doing too much of the talking. Interviewers need to be responsive and break the ice, but ideally candidates should be doing 80 percent of the talking. Give candidates time to respond fully, don’t interrupt them, and take opportunities to ask them to elaborate on their answers. Certainly give details about the role, the company, and the work environment, but just be careful not to monopolize the interview. Having said that, don’t be too tight-lipped either, as that can unsettle candidates.

  1. Asking the wrong questions

It’s easier than you think to ask the wrong questions. Interviewers need to take care not to ask anything that’s irrelevant or unnecessarily complicated and potentially confusing to candidates. Similarly, asking stock standard questions that don’t give any insight into the candidate’s motivation, experience, or problem-solving skills are pointless and won’t help you identify the best hires.

The worst kind of questions an interviewer can ask are those that are illegal or could be perceived to be so. You can’t ask anything that’s not related to the role on offer, particularly anything regarding a candidate’s race, gender, religious beliefs, or family commitments. If you do, at best, a candidate will become wary of your motivations, while at worst you could find yourself the target of a discrimination lawsuit. You can avoid this by putting together a list of questions in advance that will help you determine whether a candidate has the key skills and experience needed for the job.

  1. Not probing deeply enough

It’s all well and good having a great list of interview questions, but an interviewer needs to follow up to get more detailed answers. Good interviewers don’t just accept a response and move on; they probe deeper to learn more. Follow-up questions like “how did you approach that?”, “what worked and what didn’t?” and “what were the biggest challenges you faced?” allow you to glean a lot more useful information about how the candidate will perform in the role.

  1. Failing to sell your organization

An interview is not just an opportunity to evaluate candidates, but also a chance to promote your company to great potential hires. This is especially important when you have hard-to-fill positions. The interviewee might have the skills and experience for the role and seem like the right fit, but if you don’t get them enthusiastic about what your company can offer them as an employee, they might accept an offer elsewhere.

Keep assessing your interview technique

Getting an interview right is a balancing act and one that takes time to perfect. That’s why it’s always a good idea to adequately train anyone you’re entrusting to conduct interviews. Sometimes even seasoned professionals can make a mistake, so it’s best to keep on reminding yourself of the pitfalls and how to avoid them so you can continue to hire the best talent.

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