By Alissa Parr, Ph. D – PSI

Structured interviews are one of the best selection methods of determining how someone will perform on the job. Most companies rely on interviews to assess candidate’s skills and abilities. However, without the appropriate training and insights into best practices of conducting structured interviews, hiring managers can commit mistakes leading them to make an inaccurate assessment of job candidates. Below is a list of the top 10 mistakes hiring managers make during an interview.

1) Hmm…this candidate is asking a lot of questions about the job. Maybe I should have reviewed the job description better.

One of the first mistakes a hiring manager can make is coming in unprepared to the interview. Before the interview starts, it’s important to review the job description, the interview guide, and any application materials the candidate has submitted. Also, make sure to set the stage—find an area where there will be limited distractions. The candidate is already nervous and may become even more nervous if phones are ringing and employees are stopping by to ask questions.

2) So, tell me about yourself.

This is a great question to get to know someone personally, but does not provide value-add to a job situation. Focus on using past behavior questions targeted at specific competencies. Past behavior is the best predictor of future performance. These questions will help you determine how the candidate would likely behave on the job.

3) Wow, bad first answer…this is going to be a long interview.

Interviewers have a tendency to make a judgment about a candidate within the first 5 minutes of an interview (or sooner). Afterward, instead of gathering information in an unbiased manner, they attempt to confirm their initial impression. It’s critical that hiring managers stay open mindedthroughout the entire interview and consider each of the skills separately.

4) I think multi-tasking is important, so I’m going to ask about it.

Interview guides should be developed based on job analytic work. During a job analysis, competencies that are required and important for success in the position are uncovered. Only focusing on these competencies will enable hiring managers to get a better assessment of the candidate’s skills that are critical for success. Additionally, it provides legal defensibility because you are consistently asking about skills that have been determined by job content experts to be important.

5) These questions are great, but I have some better ones.

Structured interviews are over 2 times more effective than unstructured interviews. By not sticking to the interview guide and being more spontaneous, hiring managers are unintentionally making the process less accurate. Additionally, by asking off-the-cuff questions, hiring managers may be more susceptible to asking questions that may put them at legal risk.

6) This job is awesome. This is the best company you’ll ever work for.

Recruiting candidates is a good thing. However, it’s necessary to be realistic with candidates about the work conditions and the organization. By providing them a realistic job preview, they can make a decision as to whether they would be happy in that position. Otherwise, if everything is framed in a rosy light, they might come onboard and leave soon after because it didn’t meet their expectations. Poor hires can be very costly to the organization.

7) That is a great response…exactly what we would want someone to do here.

I like positive reinforcement, but interviews are not the place for it. Maintaining a balance between being friendly and neutral with their responses is critical. Hiring managers shouldn’t give candidates an indication of their performance during the interview.

8) So, your boss was happy with your decision, wasn’t she?

I think it would be difficult to find a candidate who said “no” to this question. Since we are leading the candidate into a “yes” response, we don’t know for sure if they are saying this because we want them to or because that’s how it occurred. Stick to open-ended, past behavior questions instead of leading questions.

9) Record timing! I just got through the entire interview in 25 minutes. That puts everyone else who’s taking a full hour to shame.

Efficiency is usually valued, but it’s critical to not compromise thoroughness for efficiency. Oftentimes, hiring managers are content with a very high-level response from the candidate. However, details are important! Hiring managers need to ask probing questions so they can assess the full situation, its significance, and its acceptability regarding how that skill should be displayed.

10) This person was better than the last one, so let’s hire him!

If hiring managers are comparing candidates, they will find someone better. However, the candidate still might not meet standards for acceptable performance. Candidates should be assessed using specific scoring criteria. Scoring criteria will consist of exemplary behaviors that are less than acceptable, acceptable, and more than acceptable. This will help hiring managers to determine whether they meet the skill level required for the job based on the actions they took in their response.

During your next interview, take notice of your behaviors and make sure that you are not committing any of these errors. If you do—it’s okay. Just make sure next time you change your behaviors. The ultimate goals of interviews are to engage in an accurate and fair process. By avoiding these mistakes, you can be on your way to meeting these goals and making good decisions on job candidates.

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