As professionals in the talent acquisition industry, we tend to forget this one important fact: we are not the only ones making assessments and collecting information during a job interview. Candidates are also constantly making value judgements about the company, the role, and its fit for them. So, while being the interviewer is never as stressful as being the interviewee, recruiters and hiring managers still have to put their best foot forward.
Give jobseekers a negative candidate experience and you could quickly lose them to competitors – after all, top talent is in demand, and you probably aren’t their only prospect.
These are some of the ways that interviewers, and interview teams, rub applicants the wrong way. Make every effort to avoid making these mistakes . . . or risk having brilliant candidates fall out of your hiring process.
Being Discourteous & Unprofessional
A jobseeker would never dream of arriving late to an interview, slouching in their chair, or standing up mid-sentence to make coffee. Why? Because they're eager to make a good impression. And you, as a recruiter, should be too. Your business’s reputation depends on it. So, arrive on time, welcome interviewees warmly, give them your undivided attention, and don’t check the clock, or your phone. Essentially, do what you must to show that you value them and appreciate their interest in the job.
Not Doing the Groundwork
If you go into an interview without having familiarized yourself with the candidate’s resume or without a clear understanding of the role you’re hiring for, you’re going to annoy the interviewee. The first implies lack of interest and the latter will leave the candidate feeling uncertain and discouraged – especially if you can’t answer basic questions around responsibilities and reporting structures. You wouldn’t feel comfortable making an important life decision based on minimal information, so don’t expect candidates to do so.
Overselling or Underselling the Company & Role
If you go on and on about how extraordinary the company and its working conditions are, the interviewee is probably going to question your sincerity. On the other hand, if you make no effort to promote the position or if you speak negatively about the business and staff members, the candidate is going to wonder why on earth they should pick this job.
Paint a real picture of what it’s like to work there and keep arrogance and acrimony out of it.
Interrogating Instead of Interviewing
Sitting in front of a panel of poker-faced interviewers is intimidating enough. Being grilled like you’re the prime suspect in a murder case is downright terrifying and bound to make any applicant angry. An interview should be a good-natured discussion, so HR professionals and hiring managers should avoid any overly aggressive or accusatory tactics. Don’t pick holes in every answer the interviewee gives, try to catch them off guard, or lecture them about how they should have handled situations.
A militant interviewing style is often adopted by staff members who feel threatened by the candidate and their skills. Watch out for this competitive response in yourself and others. It’s also a good idea to keep the interview panel to a maximum of five people – any more makes for a hostile or (downright cramped) environment.
Asking Dull, Irrelevant, & Inappropriate Questions
Illegal job interview questions are obviously a no-no. But questions that are too personal, trivial or overly complex should also be avoided. The candidate will find them nosy, insulting, and obnoxious, and they will leave your office feeling disgruntled.
Importantly, stay away from mind-boggling brainteasers – they don’t reveal much anyway. Rather, keep questions relevant, diplomatic, and sufficiently challenging.
Not Adequately Managing Expectations
If a candidate is under the impression that this interview is the final one, they’ll understandably be put off when you then invite them to complete yet another stage of evaluation. Similarly, if you tell an interviewee that you’ll give them interview feedback within the next three days, and you don’t, you can expect them to get fed up.
Carefully managing expectations and keeping interviewees informed about the next steps should be priorities if you want to keep candidates engaged.
Failing to Approach an Informal Team Interview Cautiously
Informal gatherings that bring together prospective employees and the team they’re potentially joining can be a useful way to assess fit. But they can seriously turn off candidates if not managed carefully. There’s always the danger that certain staff will act inappropriately, be rude, or try to push the individual to say or do something embarrassing.
So, make sure you carefully select who’s present, familiarize the team with the requirements listed in your original job posting, and keep the meeting as structured and civilized as possible.
Not Respecting Candidates’ Time
Remember, most of your interviewees will be busy professionals with full-time jobs. They don’t have time to sit through countless rounds of interviews or complete test after test – asking them to do so will just exasperate them. On the opposite end of this spectrum, be sure to give candidates enough time. No one wants to dedicate hours to preparation, block out a morning or afternoon, and travel all the way to your office only to be rushed through a five-minute interview.
Part of respecting applicants’ time also involves giving them the chance to direct part of the interview and ask their own questions. If you monopolize the discussion, they’ll probably leave feeling unsatisfied.
Failing on the Feedback Front
For obvious reasons, giving candidates harsh feedback during the interview is never a good idea. You’ll just unnerve them, and you risk saying something that could cause legal issues. Rather, save your thoughts for a carefully worded rejection letter to the candidate.
Similarly, giving no interview feedback at all, positive or negative, can seriously turn off candidates. Even if a decision has not yet been made, keep the lines of communication open and send regular status updates to avoid looking unprofessional and losing applicants to other companies.
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