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Nine Pitfalls of Employment Interviews

By Will Helmlinger

The interviewing process can be a very unnerving situation for many hiring managers. In fact, when surveyed, over 90% of people indicate they hate to interview. It is no wonder why the interview itself yields only a 14% accuracy rate.

Is your situation hopeless … doomed to an 86% failure rate? It can be, or you can improve your odds by avoiding nine pitfalls.

Consider these common mistakes:

  1. Personal attitudes, mental alertness , and biases.
    Your personal mindset plays an integral part in the success of any interview. Every time you conduct an interview, you must be alert and attentive to the applicant. Yes, we all have our pre-dispositions. However, if you are biased against a person for any reason … you miss out on a potential employee that could impact your company positively. Keep your mind open; it creates a world of possibilities.
  2. Decisions made too slowly/quickly.
    Ever been rushed into making a decision and regretted it later? How about the great applicant that got away because the decision making process took too long? There is absolutely no magic when it comes to timing your decisions. Up front, advise each candidate the process that they will go through. Clarify the length of time it will take to make a hiring decision. The applicant will let you know if that time frame works for them … and it will save you a lot of headaches.
  3. Applicant data misinterpreted.
    Ever been surprised when the person who shows up for work is not the same person you interviewed? What happened? You may have misinterpreted the information they gave you, in part because of factors No.1 and No. 2. You have to listen to each statement the applicant says. Avoid placing your interpretation on it. Record information factually and you will stop hearing what you want to hear. Make sure your pre-employment tests are yielding the results you want and unmask the real person, not just the interview person.”
  4. Negative information sought too readily.
    Knowing that hiring mistakes have been made in the past, perhaps by you, you want to avoid the same mistake again. Yet, mistakes are repeated over and over. Why? People, too quickly, look for negatives about a candidate so that the applicant can be eliminated from consideration. No applicant is a perfect “10”. They all come with blemishes. You must look for positives and weigh them against the negatives.
  5. Pressure to fill position which affects judgment.
    You have a major project to complete … The current employee is about to leave; you are pressed to hire someone so that the current person can train the new one … The boss is demanding you to take action … You’re tired of interviewing so many candidates.
    All these business pressures can lead to hiring mistakes. Everyone is placed in a pressure cooker situation in their jobs. However, would you go out on a blind date and after 15 minutes propose marriage? Yet, hiring managers often decide to hire a person and enter into Marriage this quickly. Succumbing to pressure has its costs.
  6. Don’t look for patterns and a main theme.
    Statistically, over 80% of employment terminations are a result of behavioral and value mismatches. However, the only patterns that many hiring managers look for, if they look for them at all, are work experience patterns. All too often, managers neglect to compare the patterns that exist in the resume to the patterns that develop during the behavioral interview. Everyone has at least one main theme and clear behavioral patterns in their life.
  7. Do you use a validated assessment tool to verify your expectations against what the applicant can’t articulate?
    Interviewer talks too much.
    The old 80-20 rule clearly applies here. The more the interviewer talks the less the interviewer learns. You can never learn anything while you are talking. Ask a question, then listen. You will be amazed what you will actually learn.
  8. Jumping to conclusions and failing to see candidates as having strengths and weaknesses.
    True story. One Vice President of a major company, while interviewing, quickly jumped to a hiring decision … would the applicant play basketball and softball on the company’s team? Once you have decided to hire the person mentally, nothing negative that the person says afterwards will matter. The result – another hiring mistake.
  9. Telegraphing correct responses expected by the way you ask questions.
    Ever been asked, “Can you work overtime or travel?” (While the interviewer is asking this question, their head is nodding up and down.) The logical response, (if the applicant wants the job) will be, “Of course, I can work overtime and travel. No problem.” You, the interviewer, have learned nothing. You have not discovered the true answer. The applicant has given you exactly what you want to hear. Avoid closed ended questions.

© 1999 by Will Helmlinger. All Rights Reserved

In today’s Candidate driven market, it is crucial that the employer is as prepared for the hiring process as is the candidate. Below we have added some important information to help you, the hiring manager, succeed in selecting the best and brightest talent for your company. Feel free to contact us with any questions or for additional information.

  1. What Candidates are looking for in a new Company
  2. Nine Pitfalls of Employment Interviews
  3. Cost per Hire (figuring your actual cost to hire an employee)
  4. Counter-Offer Counter Measures

For additional information on interviewing, and career search methods I highly recommend a book called: Knock em Dead and Knock em Dead Resumes, written by Martin Yate.

Gary Perman is a certified recruiting professional and owns PermanTech, which specializes in recruiting technology executives, managers and engineers. He hosts an employment-technology blog.

See our Blog for Technology discussions,Interviewing advice, comments relating to IT, Software, Technology issues.