5 Techniques to Avoid Common Pitfalls when Interviewing Job Candidates
When it comes to interviewing potential candidates, less talking by the interviewer is definitely more. The purpose of conducting job interviews is to learn more about each candidate’s experience and qualifications as they relate to the position for which they have applied. It is also an opportunity to validate the information that they have submitted in their resume. Two common mistakes that I often witness employers make when conducting job interviews are talking too much and asking leading questions, often unintentionally and without even realizing they are doing it. Here is an example:
I recently sat in on a job interview with a client while he interviewed a potential employee. During the interview, the manager dominated the conversation. Each time he would ask a question, he would then go on to explain why he was asking the question as well as give examples of situations that he had experienced in relation to the question. Not only did the interviewee do more listening than talking, when he finally have the chance to answer the questions he was able to tell the manager exactly what he wanted to hear. After all, the manager had just spent the past few minutes telling him.
At the end of the interview, the manager was convinced that the individual was the perfect candidate for the job. Unfortunately, he soon realized that during the interview he had fallen into the trap of the two common mistakes and had subsequently learned very little about the candidate’s potential abilities to do the job (other than the fact that he had excellent listening skills).
Eager to improve his interviewing skills, the manager asked for feedback on his interviewing techniques. Here were my suggestions to him, which you may also find useful:
1. Remember that the interview is all about the candidate.
Talk less and provide opportunities for the candidate to share how their experience and abilities are a potential fit for the job.
2. Begin the interview with casual conversation.
Most job candidates are nervous. Beginning the interview with light conversation puts people at ease and they will be more inclined to share information.
3. Ask open-ended questions.
These are questions that will garner more than just a simple yes or no response.
For example: Instead of asking “Did you enjoy your previous position?” ask “What did you enjoy most about your previous position?”
4. Avoid asking leading questions.
As in the situation described above, these are detailed questions that essentially lead the candidate into providing the information or answer that you want to hear.
For example: Instead of asking, “Do you always arrive 15 minutes early for your shifts?” perhaps ask them to describe how they would typically start their shift.
5. Ask behavioural-based questions.
Unlike traditional interview questions which may be answered hypothetically, behavioural-based interview questions require candidates to provide information based on their previous experience in a similar employment-related situation.
For example: A traditional interview question about meeting deadlines could be phrased like this “How well do you perform under pressure to meet deadlines?” While a behavioural-based interview question about deadlines could be phrased like this “Tell me about a time in which you worked well under pressure to meet tight deadlines”.
When it comes to conducting effective job interviews, applying these five techniques will help ensure that you do less talking, more listening and avoid asking leading questions. Remember, the more you learn about each candidate during the interview, the better prepared – and able – you will be to select the candidate who is best suited for the position.
Related to When (Taking) Less. is More:
- Interviewing potential employees
- A Better Way to Give Feedback on Employee Performance
- Behavioural interviews | Interviews that review behaviour