This is a guest blog post from our HR partner, CAI. CAI is a trusted resource for N.C. employers for HR, compliance and people development.
A great hire can inject a spark in your organization that will spread throughout your workforce and drive everyone to raise the bar. Likewise, a bad hire can deflate your employees, costing time and resources to either train or replace them with a better fit.
The difference between a great hire and a bad hire can often rely on how the interview is conducted. Below is a list of common mistakes made during the interview process that you will want to avoid.
Overlooking Important Skills
Interviewers will sometimes put too much emphasis on the specific skills required for a position while overlooking traits such as critical thinking or initiative, that are often harder to develop or come by naturally. Organizational fit is at least as important as technical ability. Many experts argue fit is more important.
Asking Hypothetical Questions
Some interviewers will ask questions such as “How would you handle a problem client?” or “How would you close a difficult sale?” These hypothetical questions will yield hypothetical answers. Instead, use “Tell me about how you once handled a problem client?” or “Tell me about the most difficult sale you had to close”. These answers will relate real experiences for you to evaluate.
No Follow-up Questions
During an interview, some interviewers will ask only one or two questions regarding each job listed on the candidate’s resume. Instead, dig deeper in order to get more information. Zero in on a prior job that is closely related to your opening and spend some quality time on that experience. The details of that job will give you a better idea of how qualified they are for this position.
Too Much Talk About Company
Interviews that spend too much time on the company, its history, its product or services, etc., will yield little information on the candidate’s qualifications. Remember, you are here to find out about this candidate and their experience. A serious candidate will have already researched your company and would not be at the interview if they were not interested. Spend the limited amount of time you have on what is important – the candidate. A good rule of thumb is that you shouldn’t be talking more than 20% of the interview time.
No Live Testing
As they say, “talk is cheap.” Questions and answers during an interview worked fine in the past. If you really want to separate your stars from the pack, simulate real activities the candidate will face. For example, if interviewing candidates for a sales role, have them prepare a slide presentation of their qualifications and “sell” themselves to your team. This “live test” cannot be conducted for every role, but use it where applicable.
Likely, there is already enough pressure on the candidate during an interview without deliberately adding more. Some interviewers, however, will try to see how a candidate responds to high-pressure, intimidating interviews. High pressure and intimidation is not the norm for the workplace or, at least, it should not be. Therefore, it makes no sense to put the candidate through that. It might backfire on you and you may lose a top candidate.
A smart interviewer will be very candid and up-front with the candidate about both the positive and negative aspects of the job. By only focusing on the positive aspects, the candidate will begin to wonder what you are not telling him/her. This will lead to doubt about the position. Honestly describing everything about the role, on the other hand, will lead to trust and will help you to avoid surprises down the line.
Inconsiderate or Unprofessional
Never start an interview late or cancel at the last minute without offering an apology. Do not read your emails or accept phone calls during an interview. This sends a message to the candidate that they are not important to you or your organization.
Average Attention for Above-average Candidates
Interviewers should remember the candidate is also interviewing the company during an interview session and afterwards. Top candidates typically have multiple options from which to choose. If you are interested in a specific candidate, let them know by paying special attention to them after the interview. Send a thank-you email and provide them with your positive feedback on how you felt the interview went. Have a manager or potential employee peer reach out to them and ask if they have any further questions. Show definite signs of interest on your part in order to keep their interest.
Hire Personalities, Not Skills and Experience
Too often, we tend to want to hire people we like based on their personality or how well they get through an interview. Do not fall into this trap. At the end of the day, you want the brightest and most qualified people as a part of your workforce. Everyone is different and diversity has a way of bringing out new ideas and new forms of collaboration that leads to greater productivity.
Making a bad hire decision wastes everyone’s time and will take some of the energy and momentum away from your company. Avoiding these common mistakes during the interview process will give you the best potential for making a great hire and building your workforce with strong, qualified employees.
Renee Watkins is on CAI’s Advice & Resolution Team. A seasoned HR professional with practical hands-on experience in various human resource functions, Renee provides solutions to retain and motivate outstanding workforces. She also specializes in counseling and advising management for best practices, processes and strategies to support employee morale and organizational effectiveness.