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9 common interviewer mistakes that put off candidates

Nikoletta Bika
Nikoletta Bika

Nikoletta holds an MSc in HR management and has written extensively about all things HR and recruiting.

Mistake that put off job candidates

Interviewers can get away with mistakes more easily than interviewees. Candidates are supposed to stress about how to create a positive impression. Conversely, an interviewer can come in unprepared, they can slouch, boast or even offend and few of them are likely to be held responsible for a damaged employer reputation or the loss of an excellent prospective employee.

Even when interviewers are conscientious and have the best intentions, they can still make hiring mistakes that undermine their objectives. When those interviewer mistakes take the form of unconscious biases, they need time and effort to be overcome. But simple missteps that a candidate can actually perceive are easier to deal with.

Here we provide you with a list of the most common interviewer mistakes that can and will put off candidates:

  1. You don’t receive them properly

Most candidates will come to an interview nervous but eager and on time. That positive mood can be soured if they are left waiting for half an hour. Finding out that the reception hasn’t been informed about who they are and who they’re meeting can be equally frustrating. Provide a welcome for your candidates. Not doing so won’t only affect their opinion of your company but will also demotivate and effect interview performance.

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  1. Not reading their resume

Being busy is understandable. But, not dedicating a few minutes to find out what’s on the candidate’s resume can turn into a big hiring mistake. It’s important to show you respect their qualifications and have an interest in them rather than a cold procedure. Otherwise, you risk asking irrelevant questions or worse, try to sort it out on the spot. The candidate will sense what you’re trying to do and won’t appreciate it.

  1. You don’t care and it shows

There are a number of things that can distract you — an upcoming meeting or an important email. Some interviewers may even be uninterested in a candidate because they already tend to prefer another. Candidates, though, have spent a lot of time preparing for your interview and they deserve to be heard. They’ll immediately know that they don’t have your full attention if you are detached, unenthusiastic, don’t take notes and look at anywhere but them.

  1. You dominate the discussion

It’s a good thing that interviewers want to break the ice, sell the company and ask their questions. But when all these result in an endless monologue, it can be one of the most harmful interviewer mistakes and detrimental to the hiring process. Candidates should be encouraged to do the talking for about 80 percent of the time. Avoid interrupting them and give them enough time to have their own questions or concerns addressed. Don’t be too quiet though, candidates don’t want to feel like they’re talking to a brick wall. Ask clear and concrete questions and follow up on their answers to probe deeper.

  1. The questions are annoying

Anything that’s irrelevant, rhetorical or overly complicated (like asking them to design an algorithm that would normally take days) can annoy qualified candidates. Predictable questions and brainteasers are also not the best choices in most situations. Make sure you take time to choose the best set of interview questions that will help you correctly evaluate a candidate. Asking illegal questions is also one of the most serious hiring manager mistakes. Even if a candidate perceives that you’re asking an illegal question just to make conversation (e.g. where are you originally from?) they’ll still be wary of your motives and trustworthiness.

Want an effective process to keep your questions job-related and effective? Get our free structured interviews guide to help you.

  1. You boast

Do present the company in the best possible light. Sometimes though, interviewers get carried away — either because they’re genuinely satisfied employees or because they exaggerate to make an impression. Praising the company should be done carefully and be thought through in advance. Needless to say, you should always refrain from praising yourself.

  1. You are too honest

When candidates are being called for an interview, they want to be given a chance to succeed. Imagine how unsettling it would be to tell them that they’re inferior to other candidates and that their chances to be hired are low. Or undervalue their background and interrupt them mid-sentence to tell them their answer isn’t satisfying. None of these would be polite or beneficial. Don’t give the candidate feedback while interviewing. Save this for a post-interview rejection letter, which you’ll have crafted carefully.

Why you should always write a post-interview rejection letter.

  1. You dodge questions

Sometimes interviewers are asked questions they don’t know the answer to. There is no shame in this. Don’t be tempted to deflect them and never do so condescendingly. Candidates won’t feel they have been treated fairly if you do and will certainly be annoyed in the process. This is a good opportunity to be honest to avoid one of the most common interviewer mistakes. If you don’t know or can’t disclose the answer say so. Don’t feel the need to embellish or lie. Candidates may still find out the answer later and feel deceived.

  1. You rush the process

Imagine you’re a candidate excited about the opportunity to interview at this company. You spend hours researching, thinking of questions and recalling past experiences. Then, after you’ve thoroughly prepared and are ready to excel, all you get is 15 minutes of the interviewer’s time. We can all understand how unfulfilling and aggravating that would be. When you decide to bring in a candidate for an interview, be prepared to take your time. That’s the only way to evaluate them effectively and make an informed decision.

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