5 Common Interviewer Mistakes

Be aware of these five common errors made by even the most experienced interviewers.

  1. Talking Too Much.  If you’re talking 50% of the time or more, you’re not learning very much.  The candidate should be doing most of the talking, and to make that happen your interview needs to be well-structured and your interviewing skills well-honed.
  2. Telegraphing the Desired Response.  If you tell a job seeker that “in addition to technical competence, this position requires that you work with other people effectively,” and then ask him to tell you about his experience and interest in working in such a setting, don’t be surprised if the candidate uses this opportunity to mention how much she likes working on a project team — even if it’s not particularly true.  Giving away details about the organization or describing the special circumstances or day-to-day challenges provide a candidate with all the information he needs to know what to highlight and what to downplay.
  3. Jumping to Conclusions.  Studies indicate that interviewers usually reach a decision within the first six to eight minutes!  It’s impossible to eliminate hunches entirely, but the firmness of a handshake, the steadiness of a voice, or the confidence of a broad smile should not weigh too heavily in your decision.  They’re relevant, but get past them to the facts that may or may not corroborate your first impression.
  4. Failing to Know the Job Requirements.  If all you have is a general sense of the job — “I want somebody who’s technically skilled, bright, lots of energy”— then chances are the interview will take the form of a 30-45 minute chat that covers very general topics.  On what basis will you make a decision?  Knowing what’s necessary to perform the job well gives you the chance to test and validate information as the candidate speaks, and allows you to connect the things they say with the specific qualities you’re looking for.  That’s not going to happen by simply chatting with the person.  You need a sharp and clear understanding of what qualities are needed if you are going to be able to recognize them in your candidate.
  5. Not Using an Organized Approach.  You can talk to four different candidates and ask each or them questions about their backgrounds, but how do you then make a rational comparison between them?  You don’t have comparable data on these candidates – you have randomly collected information.  To compare candidates validly you need some kind of organized approach—nothing as mechanical as taking a survey, but a flexible, sensitive way to collect information that permits meaningful comparisons.  Determining the right job behaviors is a key successful interviewing and a component of our “How to Pick the Right People” interviewing skills training program.


Comments are closed.