Top 5 Interviewer Mistakes

Even the most seasoned interviewers make mistakes. And those mistakes may be costing you the best talent.

So, here are the Top 5 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 effective note taking 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, it is not uncommon for interview decisions to be based on five to seven key questions. And if you don’t take good notes, you’re left to make decisions on very limited data and on what you can remember from the interview.

How to Avoid:
A reasonable solution is to create a checklist for each question that includes examples of statements that contribute to a good answer. For each question, the checklist might contain 5 to 10 comments 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: 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 team 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. 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 #5: 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. 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 candidate.

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.

Joseph T. Sefcik, Jr., is the founder and president of Employment Technologies. He is a thought leader in simulation and virtual interview technology for talent prediction.


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