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10 Biggest Mistakes Made By Job Interviewers


Below is a list of the most crucial mistakes that we see employers make when it comes to the job interview.

1. Lack of Training on How to Conduct Interviews

Most managers don’t know how to interview. They talk too much, and don’t let the interviewee talk enough. They don’t probe for more information when a candidate gives a vague answer. They are not trained on body language and tone of voice. They treat the interview like a conversation, rather than a structured process with a goal. 

2. Lack of Structure and Standardised Scoring

A structured interview involves the interviewer collecting all the relevant information about each candidate. While this might not mean the exact same set of questions each time, the interviewer should be clear on the desired outcome and ask appropriate questions. These questions should be designed to evaluate the extent to which the interviewee has the characteristics that are known to be critical for job performance. As much as possible, the answers should be attached to some form of rating scale so that candidates can be more easily compared to one another. 

3. Asking Too Many ‘Story’ Questions

Here is a list of the 'story' questions (incidentally, they are also some of the most common questions asked in interviews):

  • Tell me about your experience at --------
  • Why do you want to work for us?
  • What do you know about our company?
  • Where do you see yourself in five years?
  • Why did you leave your last job?
  • Tell me about yourself

Story questions help you understand the pieces of someone’s life — they can be useful if you are the person's biographer, but none of these are directly related to job performance. Using too many story questions is a waste of time. Use Behavioural-Based questions to assess job performance. 

4. Asking Too Few ‘Behavioural-Based’ Questions

This is a term used for questions that ask for specific examples of how the candidate utilised a particular competency or skill. (E.g. Can you give me an example a project you worked on that required very close attention to detail?) 

5. Asking Illegal / Inappropriate Questions

Federal and state anti-discrimination laws in Australia prohibit discrimination. All interviewers should be trained about what questions are inappropriate and pose a legal risk. Examples include:

  • Where were you born?
  • When were you born?
  • Are you planning to have children?
  • Who cares for your children when you're at work?
  • Have you ever been arrested?
  • Are you married or single?

6. Subjective Bias

Biases are neither right or wrong, nor good or bad. They are simply a reflection of what we tend to pay attention to, and what we dismiss. Often, this viewpoint is unknowingly injected into the interview process when we focus on traits that are important to us, when what we should be focusing on the traits that are important to the job. 

7. Treating the Interview Like a One-Way Street

Gone are the days when it was up to the interviewee to beg and grovel at the feet of the interviewers. Hiring managers should not act as though they are doing someone a favour by granting them the privilege of an interview. The interview is a two-way street — interviewers need to sell their company and make a good impression, just as much as the interviewee. 

8. The God Complex

The 'God Complex' can be found in hiring managers who believe that they have rare and wonderful powers of observation. Basically, they believe they're smart enough to determine a good candidate when they see one. People like this prefer to ignore rigorous interviewing practices, and instead formulate their own questions and go off ‘gut’ feel. 

9. Not Interviewing by Consensus

The manager and other team members who will be most directly responsible for the intended position should be involved in the interviewing process. Involving multiple stakeholders will help immensely in selecting the best match for the job. Having more than one person in the interview room can help to eliminate the effects of bias, as well as help to pick someone who is best for the overall culture. 

10. Not Communicating with Candidates After the Interview

It is particularly important to update candidates on where they stand throughout the process. Good quality candidates are usually interviewing for multiple jobs at the same time, so keeping in regular contact is extremely important (otherwise they might accept another job without telling you).

Theo Winter

Theo Winter

Client Services Manager, Writer & Researcher. Theo is one of the youngest professionals in the world to earn an accreditation in TTI Success Insight's suite of psychometric assessments. For more than a decade, he worked with hundreds of HR, L&D and OD professionals and consultants to improve engagement, performance and emotional intelligence of leaders and their teams. He authored the book "40 Must-Know Business Models for People Leaders."

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