3 Mistakes The Best Interviewers Never Make

Very few people can claim that interviewing is their full-time job.

Most job interviews are conducted by busy people who also have a variety of other duties and responsibilities (hiring managers, recruiters, HR professionals).

 

Far too often, the prevailing attitude is that interviews are something that only the candidate really needs to prepare for.

The interviewer already knows what they’re doing—they can just “wing it” and ask whatever questions happen to come to mind.

This is a big mistake. 

 

Here are 3 of the most common interviewing mistakes that happen as a result.

 

1. Relying on inconsistent information

Candidate 1 shows up to the interview with a great attitude, and generally seems like a good fit for the job role.

Candidate 2 has a resume with lots or relevant skills and experience.

 

The interviewer spends most of the time with Candidate 1 discussing their personality, and how well they fit with the organizational culture.

The interviewer spends most of the time with Candidate 2 discussing their skills and experience.

 

Intuitively, this sounds great. Focus on the specific strengths or weaknesses of each individual candidate.

 

But the result is inconsistent:

Interview consistency

One of the main purposes of the job interview is to compare candidates so that you can decide who to hire.

Questions that are only asked of some candidates are useless for this purpose.

Comparing candidates using different criteria is like comparing apples and oranges.

 

The best interviewers decide in advance what information they need to obtain, and then consistently obtain that information from every candidate.

 

2. Relying on insufficient information

If the interviewer hasn’t clearly specified what information they need to obtain from candidates, how can they possibly know whether they have collected enough information to make an informed decision?

Candidates sometimes don’t provide enough information in their initial responses to questions.

They might misunderstand a question. They might not know exactly what information is relevant. In some cases, they might even be trying to avoid providing the information that the interviewer is actually looking for.

 

The most simple and effective solution is to ask follow-up questions.

The best interviewers know what information they are looking for, so they also know when they need to ask for more information.

 

3. Introducing irrelevant information

Asking irrelevant questions doesn’t help the interviewer make a decision about candidates.

At best, it’s just a waste of time.

 

From a legal perspective, decisions about candidates are considered to be based upon all of the information obtained about them.

This is far from harmless.

If an interviewer asks questions that happen to reveal certain information about candidates (such as race, sex, or national origin) it can be taken as evidence of intention to discriminate.

Employment discrimination complaints, and compensation paid as a result, are rapidly increasing. It is more important than ever to avoid selection procedures that are even potentially discriminatory.

This includes just “winging it” during interviews. It’s a bad idea.

 

The best interviewers stay on track.

By preparing in advance, they have already decided what to ask, and they know exactly what information they need to make a decision.

 

This results in a much better chance of actually selecting the best candidates.

 

 

Image credit: Robert Couse-Baker

An earlier version of this article was published on 9/2/2014

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