Hiring is one of the most critical decisions for any organization. As an interviewer it’s your responsibility to represent the best of your company while helping select a valuable addition to your team. No matter your experience interviewing, here are six pitfalls you should avoid to ensure you are on your way to a better interview:
It is one thing to recognize from a resume that you attended the same alma mater or participated in the same fraternity as a prospective employee, it’s quite another to ask if they’re married, have children, or when they graduated high school. Personal questions and statements that extend beyond the job description can tread a fine line (or trample it altogether) between friendliness and potential discrimination. Be sure your questions are always in line with the requirements for the position.
Understanding the necessary skills and compatibility to the position and company are crucial to a person’s success in a role. Often we think we have a clear understanding of a job because of our daily work interactions, and that we can easily identify a good fit. Or we may be intimidated by interviewing a superior or overly impressed by someone with an extensive work history at big name companies. In any of these scenarios our state of mind can prevents us from properly identifying if a person is fully qualified for the role if we haven’t equated their experience to the job requirements—and we can’t do that unless we’ve identified them before the interview.
For many hiring managers, interviewing may not be their primary job responsibility. Juggling daily responsibilities while fitting in candidate interviews can be stressful. Others interviewers simply undervalue the importance of the decision they’ve been tasked with and try to “wing it” in the interview. In either scenario, you risk the candidate feeling undervalued as a potential employee, not to mention your judgment can be skewed not having prepared criteria to assess each candidate by. Take time to mentally prep yourself prior to the interview as well as to compile and review all the necessary materials (such as the resume, application, cover letter, and job description) you need to make a sound decision.
Many of us think we can trust our instincts, but when it comes to making a good hire, we should only trust our gut so much—lest we upset it later. Regardless of the emotional connection, interviews are a time when we need to take a step back and identify if a person is qualified for the position. Otherwise, later on you may be in a disappointing and uncomfortable position of having to let go of someone who didn’t meet the company’s expectations, or your own.
An interview should be a balance of getting to know the candidate while also allowing them an opportunity to learn more about the company and their potential role. You may be nervous or just like to hear yourself talk, but if the interview is up and you haven’t learned any more about the candidate than when you started, you may need to re-evaluate what happened in the conversation. Also be aware that not allowing the potential employee a chance to ask questions or have their voice heard can leave them feeling demotivated about the opportunity.
Most people don’t like uncomfortable situations or confrontation, but avoiding it in the interview could mean missing out on a potentially great hire or assuming the best about someone not fit for the role. Challenge the situation by using the difficult questions to see how the candidate responds under pressure or by allowing them a chance to clarify a topic that you were uneasy addressing.
And remember, everyone is human and will make mistakes from time to time in an interview. But, by avoiding these blunders, your interviews will result in better quality hires, saving your organization valuable time, money, and resources.