Have you ever hired someone only to find out later the individual wasn’t a good match for the job? If you have, you’re not alone. Employment decisions are never easy and there’s plenty of room for mistakes along the way.
Unfortunately, a poor hiring decision can be costly. That’s why the interview process is so important. It’s an invaluable tool in assessing a candidate’s potential, but it can also become a stumbling block if the interview isn’t conducted with care. Following are five common interview “pitfalls” and tip for avoiding them:
The “halo effect.”
This phenomenon occurs when the interviewer becomes so captivated by one particular aspect of a candidate that it colours all other judgments. A manager may feel that he or she has been won over by an applicant’s overall qualifications, for example, when in reality the individual’s been most impressed with the candidate’s style of dress, former employer, speaking ability or alma mater. How can you prevent the halo effect? The best weapon is to be aware of it. Consider whether a particular attribute impressed you, or if a variety of factors contributed to your impression. List your observations, and review them to see if one central theme dominates. If you feel you may be placing undue weight on a single characteristic, elicit the opinion of a colleague. Another person’s impression can provide a more well-rounded view.
Too much information.
If you’re speaking more than 20 percent of the time during a job interview, you’re talking too much. Job seekers often try drawing their interviewers into discussion to find out what qualifications will hold the most weight. While it’s necessary to do some talking – you’ll want to pose questions, explain job requirements and comment on the prospective hire’s answers – be careful not to offer too much information on the specific traits, qualifications and attributes you value most. Once a candidate becomes privy to this information, it’s almost certain to be reflected in his or her answers, even if he or she isn’t aware of it.
The improvisational interview.
Variety may be the spice of life but not during an interview. Stick to a routine when meeting prospective hires. While it makes sense to tailor some questions to the individual based on his or her background and experience, you should also devise a standard list of interview questions for every candidate. This enables you to compare responses. It’s also wise to ensure the process remains similar for all applicants – that is, interviews last a comparable amount of time, are conducted in a like setting and involve the same people. A uniform structure provides an objective standard upon which to base your evaluation of candidates.
“I’m desperate – you’re hired.”
No matter how much pressure you may feel to fill a position, take time to find a candidate in whom you feel confident. An interviewer who is anxious to hire may be tempted to overlook an applicant’s potential drawbacks or to try and “coach” the individual to say what he or she wants to hear. If the prospect of lost productivity while you conduct a search causes you concern, consider hiring a project professional to fill in until the best person for the job can be found. This allows you to make a more informed hiring decision.
Unfairness to the first up.
Our company’s research has shown that the first person interviewed is least likely to get the job, probably because interviewers either cannot recall that person in detail, or they feel they should not hire the first person they meet. By using an objective rating system, and promptly recording your impressions of each candidate after an interview, you help to ensure that those whom you met early in the process are not inadvertently overlooked or forgotten.
Recognizing potential interview pitfalls is the first step in avoiding them. By keeping your interview format consistent, thoughtfully evaluating your impressions of a candidate and taking care to avoid sharing too much information, you strengthen your chances of finding the best employees for your business.Tags: interviewing techniques