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Finding the perfect candidate feels like winning the lottery – exhilarating, validating, and a little bit lucky. But before you pop the champagne, remember: just like the lottery, the job interview process comes with its own set of pitfalls.

Hiring mistakes costs companies big bucks, wastes resources, and fosters the wrong team dynamic. So, how do you avoid these landmines and ensure your next interview leads to a rockstar hire, not a recruitment regret?

Let’s explore some common interview mistakes hiring managers make and how to steer clear:

9 common pitfalls hiring managers should steer clear of during interviews

1. Winging it

You haven’t reviewed the candidate’s resume, researched their career background, or prepared insightful questions. This screams unprofessionalism and disrespect for the candidate’s time. Hiring managers should go to job interviews prepared with a structured interview plan and tailored questions for an effective hiring strategy.

As a hiring manager, familiarity with the candidate’s background allows you to tailor questions that probe beyond the surface (think situational questions), revealing depth and potential. Preparation demonstrates respect for the candidate’s time and showcases the professionalism of your organisation.

2. Talking at, not with, the candidate

You spend the entire time presenting the company and listing responsibilities, leaving no room for genuine dialogue with potential candidates. Remember, this is a two-way street. Let the candidate ask questions and showcase their potential.

3. Turning it into an interrogationLady-looking-sternly-at-candidate

Your questions are aggressive, judgmental, or pry unnecessarily into personal matters. This hiring mistake creates a hostile environment and alienates potential hires. Maintain a professional and respectful tone throughout.

4. Avoiding unconscious biases

A critical yet often overlooked aspect of the recruitment process is the potential for bias. Bias in interviewing someone, whether based on gender, age, ethnicity, or even alma mater, can inadvertently influence a hiring manager’s decision, sidelining potentially excellent candidates.

Here’s how to neutralise them:

  • Blind resumes: Consider masking identifying information like name, age, and location until later stages. It forces you to focus on relevant skills and experience.
  • Standardised questions: Develop a set of job-specific questions for every candidate, ensuring a fair and consistent assessment.
  • Diverse interview panels: Include team members from different backgrounds and perspectives to mitigate individual biases and gain well-rounded insights.
  • Focus on behaviour, not attributes: Ask questions that explore past actions and achievements relevant to the role, not personal opinions or beliefs.
  • Be mindful of non-verbal cues: Don’t let unconscious reactions based on appearance or mannerisms influence your judgment. Focus on the content of their responses.

The best candidates might not tick every box on your list, but they possess the skills, experience, and potential to thrive in your role and contribute to your team’s success.

By actively removing bias from your hiring process, you open the door to a broader talent pool and increase your chances of finding that perfect match.

Related: Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in the workplace: An employers’ guide

5. Undervaluing the importance of soft skills

Technical prowess can get a candidate through the door, but soft skills are what enable them to navigate the room effectively.

Communication, teamwork, adaptability, and problem-solving are crucial for any role. Overlooking these during the job interview can lead to hiring a candidate who excels in their tasks but struggles in a collaborative, dynamic work environment.

Incorporate questions that draw out these skills, like asking for examples of how they’ve overcome obstacles or worked effectively in a team. Soft skills, intangible qualities like communication, problem-solving, and teamwork, are the glue that holds successful teams together.

Don’t underestimate the power of a candidate who can communicate clearly and concisely, both verbally and in writing. Look for someone who actively listens, asks insightful questions, and can express their ideas persuasively.

A team player who thrives in collaborative environments readily adapts to change and demonstrates a willingness to learn is invaluable. Remember, technical skills can be honed, but soft skills are often inherent and challenging to teach.

Prioritise candidates with soft skills that complement your existing team and drive a positive, productive work environment.

6. Overlooking cultural fitMan-smiling-looking-at-paper

Cultural fit is the secret sauce to long-term employee satisfaction and success. A candidate might tick all the technical boxes, but if they clash with the company’s core values and culture, friction is inevitable.

This doesn’t mean seeking clones; diversity in thought and background enriches a team. However, ensuring alignment in fundamental values and work style is key. Engage in discussions that shed light on the candidate’s views on collaboration, innovation, and work ethics to gauge compatibility.

RelatedBuilding blocks and components of people-first company culture: report

7. Making snap judgments

First impressions matter, but basing your entire decision on the initial handshake or the first few minutes of the job interview is risky. Bias, whether conscious or unconscious, can cloud judgment. Allowing the interviewing process to unfold fully is crucial, giving the candidates ample opportunity to present themselves. This approach mitigates the risk of passing over a potentially great fit for the team due to initial misjudgments.

8. Not selling the role and company

Remember, a job interview is a two-way street. Candidates are assessing your organisation just as much as you’re evaluating them. Failing to highlight the benefits of the role, the growth opportunities within the company, and the culture can lead to top talent choosing to go elsewhere. Share what makes your organisation unique and why it’s a place where they can thrive and develop.

9. Skipping the details

Glossing over the specifics of the role or needing to be more transparent about the challenges it entails can set up both the new hire and the team for frustration.

A clear understanding of the day-to-day responsibilities, the team dynamics, and the broader goals of the position helps candidates gauge whether they’re a good fit. This clarity can prevent mismatches and ensure the selected candidate is ready to hit the ground running.

Related: Workplace flexibility a top priority for candidates: report

Post-interview mishapsman with post it note on his face

Ignoring follow-up: Post-interview follow-up is not just a courtesy; it’s a reflection of your organisation’s professionalism.

Ghosting candidates: Leaving applicants hanging without any communication after the job interview reflects poorly on your company’s professionalism. Send a timely update, regardless of the decision, and offer feedback if possible.

Failure to provide feedback or communicate the next steps in a timely manner can leave candidates with a negative impression, potentially deterring them from considering future opportunities with your company. Even a brief update can make a significant difference in maintaining a positive relationship with candidates.

Slow decision-making: You take weeks, even months, to decide, leaving candidates frustrated and potentially accepting other offers. Have a defined timeline for the hiring process and stick to it.

Failing to debrief your team: You forget to discuss the candidate selection process with other team members, leading to inconsistent feedback and missed opportunities to identify the best candidate. Schedule a debrief session to compare notes and make informed decisions.

Related: 11 traits you need to be a highly effective leader

The takeaway

The job interview process is a delicate dance, requiring preparation, insight, and a touch of finesse. By avoiding these common mistakes, hiring managers can not only improve their chances of finding the right candidate but also enhance the candidate’s experience and perception of the company.

It’s about creating a process that is thorough, respectful, and reflective of the company’s values, and every interview is an opportunity to build your brand in the eyes of potential employees.

Approach it with the seriousness it deserves, and you’ll pave the way for a team that’s skilled and aligned with your company culture and organisational goals.

Read more:
12 ways to create work-life balance for employees
How to hire to improve gender diversity in the workplace
How to be more confident at work according to Asia's female leaders

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