Are you making these four classic interview mistakes?

Finding candidates is difficult now. Once you’ve scheduled an interview, don’t weaken the chances of hiring the ideal candidate by making these four classic interview mistakes. Job candidates now have choices, and you want to be No. 1 on their list. My advice is to avoid these four classic interviewing mistakes that will annoy job candidates and have them pass over your offer for someone else.

No. 1 –  Being unprepared.

Don’t be the manager who begins the Zoom call by fumbling for the job candidate’s resume and then asking for time to read it before starting the interview. Candidates find this approach to be very disrespectful. Read the resume beforehand and take notes on strengths and the areas for which you want additional information.

No. 2  –  Relying on your first impressions.

Most interviewers decide in five minutes and then spend the rest of the interview looking for evidence to verify their snap judgment.

Research from over 65 years ago shows that impressions of a job candidate during the first four minutes of an interview play a dominant role in shaping an interviewer’s hiring decision. First impressions establish a bias, which colors all subsequent interviewer-interviewee interactions. A recent study found that an interviewer’s first impression judgments are made even faster than five minutes. This study found that the decision was made in the first ten seconds, and as with the previous research, the hiring manager spends the rest of the interview trying to confirm their first impression.

This is extremely unfortunate because it often leads to bad hiring decisions.

In many ways, an interview is a search for negative information. A single unfavorable impression is followed by a hiring rejection decision 90% of the time. First impressions are influenced considerably by non-verbal cues, such as greater direct eye contact, smiling, attentive posture, smaller interpersonal distance, and direct body orientation.

Although it is important to judge a candidate’s social skills during an interview, interviewers must not make the mistake of spending the rest of the interview trying to confirm or prove their first impression. An interview is virtually useless when hiring decisions are made solely on first impressions. Interviewers should focus on the candidate’s background, skill set, match using the company’s software and job tools, ability to overcome obstacles, ethics, and if the employee can work successfully in the company’s work environment and culture. This can only be achieved when an interviewer knows what they are looking for and can ask the right questions. Learn more by clicking this link.

Learn more recruiting tips from “Hack Recruiting”

No. 3  –  Making judgments based only on experience

Many hiring managers and recruiters screen for years of experience on a job or in an industry because it is a “number,” appears objective, and is easy to track. Years of experience, however, do not reveal the job candidate’s quality of work, whether their skills are up to date, what they’ve been able to achieve, what obstacles they’ve been able to surmount, and their overall level of success. A candidate with three years of experience with training on the updated technology and tools your company uses may be a better fit than someone with 20 years of experience but not with your technology and tools.

Empirical researchers have long pointed out that more than five years of previous experience did not predict great job performance for new hires. A new review of 81 studies looking at the correlation between prior job experience and performance in new companies showed no link between the two.

It is better to ascertain job knowledge, skills, and traits, according to the research, by using structured interviews that have identified the critical knowledge, skills, and tasks to be done and then ask the job candidates about these competencies as you review their resumes. The interviewer will want to look for answers from the job candidates that match the answers they would get from their current best employees. Such analysis takes a thorough review of the job and learning what makes your current top performers the best.

It’s far more useful for you to know whether the candidate you’re interviewing has continued to learn and has the right experience to match the job duties and software systems they will need to use at your company.

For example, are software developers using the coding software you use, and what is their competency level with it? You can objectively test for this. For pilots or truck drivers, instead of asking for how many years they worked in those jobs in initial screening questions, ask how many hours they have logged flying or driving. These metrics are better predictors of success. Click this link to learn more.

No. 4  –  Using “instinctive” questioning rather than structured interviews

Despite more than 100 years of empirical evidence (yes, it is over 100 years.), many companies do not put the time and effort into setting up effective interviewing techniques to improve their ability to hire top talent significantly. Instead, they rely on casual, poorly prepared interviews (academic researchers call them “unstructured interviews”) that are heavily affected by first impressions and unconscious bias. Not a good way to hire.

A structured interview is based on the knowledge, skills, abilities, and competencies the candidate will need in order to perform on the job and align with your company’s values. With structured interviews, the company creates a set of questions to ask each candidate to determine if they have the education, experience, technical skills, social skills, and emotional intelligence to do well on the job.

The structured interview is also set up to see if the job candidate has a record of success and how they achieved their success. Structured interviews dig deep and don’t hover over the surface. Another reason to use detailed structured interviews and background checks is because they offer a reliable way to determine if the job candidate is telling half-truths or lies.

Structured interviews are more likely to be successfully defended in court than unstructured interviews. A study of 158 cases in the US Federal Court involving hiring discrimination from 1978 to 1997 showed that unstructured interview processes were challenged in court more than any other selection tool. Remarkably, the structured interview survived 100 percent of the legal challenges mounted against it, while the unstructured interview survived only 59 percent of the challenges. Learn more on how to set up structured interviews by clicking this link.

Your recruiting team has worked hard find and attract job candidates to your brand. Don’t waste the effort by making these four classic interview mistakes during the interview.

Victor Assad is the CEO of Victor Assad Strategic Human Resources Consulting and managing partner of InnovationOne.. He works with companies to transform HR and recruiting, implement remote work, and develop extraordinary leaders, teams, and innovation cultures. He is the author of the highly acclaimed book, Hack Recruiting: the Best of Empirical Research, Method and Process, and Digitization. Subscribe to his weekly blogs at 

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