Although entrepreneurship and being your own boss is gaining popularity, a majority of our population still goes through the experience of applying for a job.
This means going through at least one interview process. Interviews can be very stressful and time-consuming for a candidate. Imagine sending in your resume in response to job opening you found on a job portal, waiting forever to get called in for an interview, then not hearing from them again. Only to find out after weeks of follow-up that the position has been filled.
Has this ever happened to you? This article is not intended for the candidates (Although we’d love to hear your thoughts!). But if you are an HR practictioner, a business owner, or planning to start your own business, ask yourself this question: do you realize that you may be putting candidates through this agony? Would you want to experience that same frustration yourself? Do you want your company to be associated with practicing a frustratingly, long, interview process at the expense of the candidate? If not, here are 10 areas where you can effect change.
10 Common Interview Mistakes
1. You Say You Will Get Back to Them (but You Don’t, Ever)
Does this sound familiar? I’ve conducted a few interviews myself and, yes, I am guilty of this as well. When we say to a candidate, “We’ll get back to you,” when in fact we know that we will not hire that person, we only raise their hopes. If we are already certain that we will not hire this person, it is better to be upfront with them. Mark Horstman, Co-Founder of Manager Tools, says, “as a manager, it is better to do the hard right, than the easy wrong.”
Remember, false promises reflect poorly on your company. Keeping your company’s reputation intact will help you find the right people.
2. You Continue with the Whole Interview Even If You Decided That You Are Not Hiring the Person
Here’s another scenario: 20 minutes into what is supposed to be a one hour interview, you realize that this candidate will not pass the company standards — but you proceed with the interview anyway, killing time by asking more questions. Of course, this is different if you are just unsure. We recommend that you end the interview when you decide that you will not to hire the person. If you can’t say upfront that you won’t hire them, you can say something like, “I have what I need. I know this has been short. All my interviews usually are. I’ll see you out.” Then applying the recommendation above, call them after two days to say that you decided not to hire them.
3. The Whole Process Takes Too Long
Not all candidates have the luxury to wait for the “perfect” job. They might be applying for the right role at the right company, and since the process takes too long, circumstances forces them to accept an offer from another company instead.
4. The (Future) Direct Boss Does Not Make the Final Decision
When it comes to hiring, the decision is usually made by the owner in small companies and by the the HR Department in large companies. The primary reason why the future direct manager (or hiring manager) should be the one to make the final decision is that at the end of the day, the person to be hired will become that manager’s direct report. He will be responsible for the new hire. And if the manager does not have a say in it, I just hope that the new employee turns out to be a good performer.
5. You Ask Close-Ended Questions throughout the Interview
It is easy to differentiate the best candidate from the worst one. The challenge is: find out who is best from second best.
Take a look at this scenario: Do you know how to use a computer? Are you knowledgeable in Microsoft applications? Can you communicate fluently in English with clients and customers? Ok, you’re hired!
Do you see where this is going? Remember, interviewing is a process designed by companies to weed out candidates and only accept people who are qualified and fit for the role and organization. Asking these type of questions will not tell you what that person is capable of or if he is even qualified or have the necessary skills for the job. Yes-no answers do not provide you with information to find the best candidate.
Our recommendation is to use behavioral interview questions. It allows you to take a look at the candidates thinking process and how they reacted to certain situation. We explained this in another article, How To Create a Simple Behavioral Interview Question.
6. You Do Not Probe Deeper
Critical thinking–it is one of the skills often listed as a job requirement. However, in most interviews, we do not ask questions that will help us determine if the candidate have this skill. The best way to do this is to probe deeper to find the rationale behind certain decisions. The idea is that past behavior is the best predictor of future performance in similar situations. What is important for us as interviewers to know is their journey from the plan to the action to the results – not the actual plan, not the action, not the results. They have to be able to explain their thinking. When asking about a scenario, we also need to understand how they arrived at that decision to get the result. It might have been luck; it might be someone just told them what to do; or they really considered several factors. By default, we assume that the decision was made with the same reason we have. We need to step past that.
7. You Go Easy on the Candidate Once You See Him Having a Hard Time
If we go easy on a candidate once we sense that they are not doing well, it will only make it harder for us to evaluate whether we should hire them or not. If a candidate is having a hard time, ask a difficult question. This will eliminate any doubt in your mind about hiring him. And if they do well, proceed with the interview. If they do not, then you have all the reason to apply Reason #2.
8. You Compare the Candidates with One Another
When we compare candidates with one another, there will always be a winner. However, that does not guarantee us that they pass the standards set by management or the organization. The candidates ought to be compared directly to the standard – they either pass it or not. Resist the urge to fill the position with “what you have.” Hiring an unfit and unqualified candidate will only hurt the organization in the long run.
9. You Do Not Have a Standard Set of Questions
Interviewing already involves a lot of variables. Candidates have different personal backgrounds, took different courses, came from different schools, etc. Evaluating candidates with these variables is difficult already. As interviewers, we only have the candidates’ answers as input to our evaluation whether we hire them or not. Given this, would it not make more sense if we have a standard set of questions to which we know beforehand what answers we are looking for? Having a set of standard questions makes it easier to evaluate your candidates.
Now, these set of questions are not loosely made. They should be prepared well in advance. Creating behavioral interview questions takes into consideration the requirements of the job itself, more particularly the core skills. They either have it or not. Since we already know what answers (behaviors) we are looking for, we would then know which direction to probe on their answers.
10. A Lot of People Are Part of the Interview Process
Most of the time, a lot of people interviews the candidate needlessly. I am not saying that this practice is “wrong.” The problem is they are just part of the interview process. They do not provide a recommendation to hire or not hire.
Horstman recommends that if you really need these people as part of the process, each interviewer should answer the question, “hire or not hire?” If the interviewer cannot give his recommendation, then that person should not interview at all. They are just wasting the company’s time and resources. So if a person interviews, he / she will have to make a recommendation to hire or not hire.
Take a look at your company’s interview process and think about the consequences of hiring the wrong person. Considering those two aspects will help you consider applying our recommendation in this article and get you started in fixing the 10 interview mistakes that companies do.