Very few people can claim that interviewing is their full-time job. Most interviews are conducted by busy people who also have a variety of other duties and responsibilities (e.g., recruiters, HR professionals, hiring managers).
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.
Below are 3 of the most common interviewing mistakes that happen as a result.
Also: Get the free e-Book 10 Questions to Never Ask in a Job Interview
1. Inconsistent information
Here’s an example: 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 might fit in, and then spends most of the time with Candidate 2 discussing their skills and experience.
Intuitively, this sounds great. Focus the interview on the specific strengths or weaknesses of each individual candidate. But the result is inconsistent:
One of the main purposes of the interview is to compare candidates. 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. 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 a follow-up question. An interviewer who actually knows what information they are looking for also knows when they need to ask for more information.
3. Irrelevant information
Asking irrelevant questions doesn’t help the interviewer make a decision about candidates. At best, it’s just a waste of time.
However—from a legal perspective—decisions about candidates are considered to be based upon all of the information that is obtained from 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.
Want to learn more about how job interviews can go wrong? Download the free e-Book 10 Questions to Never Ask in a Job Interview.
Photo credit: Lewis Minor