Even the most seasoned interviewers make mistakes. And those mistakes may be costing you the best talent.
So, here are the Top 6 interviewer mistakes, and our tips to help you avoid them.
Mistake #1: Jumping to Conclusions
The outcome of an interview is often decided in the first two minutes. Even though the interview is 30 minutes or longer, our decisions typically occur early in the interview, with the remaining time being used to build our case and support our decision.
How to Avoid:
Nothing sabotages the accuracy of an interview faster than jumping to a quick decision. To limit this error, separate the decision from the interview. Train yourself to focus on note taking and recording the discussion during the interview rather than evaluating.
Mistake #2: Going with Your Gut
Almost all interviewers overestimate their ability to identify the best candidates. We all think we’re a good judge of character and have a unique ability to hire the right people. Ironically, interviewers with the least experience and training are the most likely to overestimate their ability.
To further complicate things, the least trained interviewers often occupy high-level positions. Time and again, they simply “know a good candidate when they see one.” You can’t argue either for or against their intuition because it isn’t based on objective rationale or evidence.
How to Avoid:
The best solution is to make sure that ALL interviewers —whether they’re a recruiter, hiring manager, or CEO—are properly trained and are using the same standard rating criteria. To avoid mistakes, hiring decisions must be based on data, not hunches.
Mistake #3: Relying on Limited Data
Basing decisions on limited data is a sure way to derail an otherwise great interview process. Even though there is considerable discourse, usually there are relatively few questions and therefore, it is not uncommon for interview decisions to be based on as few as 5 to 7 questions. And if you don’t take good notes, you’re left to making decisions on very limited data and on what you can remember from the interview. That’s not many data points to use in such a high-stakes decision.
How to Avoid:
A reasonable solution is to create a checklist for each question that includes examples of comments or statements that contribute to a good answer. For each question the checklist might contain 5 to 10 comments which you can use to check and document what the applicant said. This significantly increases the number of data points, increases consistency in your decisions, and most importantly, helps you remember the key elements of each interview that might otherwise be forgotten.
Mistake #4: Falling for Embellishment
In a job interview, no one ever says, “all I did was . . .” Instead, applicants may inflate the importance of their past work experience in an effort to make a good impression. While descriptive words like organized, managed, created, launched make perfect sense for some jobs, for other roles, they are red flags. These words sound impressive, yet they may be used to overplay a person’s actual job duties.
How to Avoid: When red flag words pop up in an interview, ask for specific examples of the actions performed.
Mistake #5: Being Blinded by Neon Answers
Neon always catches our attention. Neon answers do, too. A neon answer is one that stands out and attracts special attention. It can either be extremely positive or negative. The pitfall of neon answers is that they can outweigh all other answers combined and therefore skew our decisions. In essence, it’s like a game where one play determines the outcome of the entire game. It’s not always the best player that wins.
How to Avoid:
To make sure you hire the best, consider all of the candidate’s answers. The final decision should be a combination of these answers with each answer contributing equally to the decision. Since neon answers really pop out, it’s easy to catch them. When you do, stop and reflect on how much weight that one answer should be given in comparison to the rest of the interview.
Mistake #6: Talking Instead of Listening
Most interviews gather information as well as provide information. So it’s hard to balance the time spent talking about your company, asking questions, and listening to applicant responses. And just because you’re asking the right questions, doesn’t mean you’ll get the information you need.
How to Avoid:
To overcome these issues, be sure to spend more time listening than talking. If you’re talking more than half the time, you’re talking too much. Actively listen to applicant responses, and use open ended questions that ask what, how, and why. This not only gets applicants talking, it also helps you get the information you need to make an effective decision.
To give applicants the information they need, you can provide standard information about the job and your company through a website or a multimedia company preview. This increases consistency and maximizes the time you have to learn about each canidate.
Improving the success of your interviews is all about minimizing potential bias and avoiding basic mistakes. Luckily, with a little awareness and discipline, we can dramatically improve the accuracy of our interviews and ultimately hire better candidates—who are as impressive on the job as they were in the interview.