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8 Tips on How to Avoid Common Job Interview Mistakes


Job seekers are not the only ones trying to make an impression during a job interview. Hiring managers and recruiters are also on the spot, and without realizing it, you might be turning off talented candidates.

Have you noticed people turning down job offers or second interviews? You might be making some very avoidable interview mistakes. This might not seem like a big deal, but in fact, it can damage your employer brand, and affect your bottom line: 69 percent of candidates are less likely to buy from a brand if they have a bad interview experience.

So, if you’re having trouble filling roles, take some time to reflect on your interview etiquette. Can you make some easy changes?

Here are eight interview mistakes hiring managers sometimes make.

1. Not being on time

Being on time for a job interview is rule number one for interviewees, but hiring managers will often leave a nervous candidate sitting in the lobby while they answer a few more emails. Let’s put it simply: don’t let your candidates wait. Fine, things happen, and if there is a crisis, people will often understand, but don’t make it a habit. The interview should start on-time, every time. 

“When we talk about employer branding, it often starts with these kinds of experiences,” says Shawn D’Souza, a talent acquisition manager in Toronto. “Don’t forget that the interviewee is also trying to decide if he or she wants to work for your company, so if a hiring manager shows up late, it can really create a negative impression,” he says.

2. Not paying attention

Yes, your to-do-list is two pages long, but when you’re in the interview room, that’s where your focus should be. Checking texts and emails is incredibly rude, and can interrupt the candidate’s train of thought. It also makes it harder for you to pick up on subtle but important cues that can help you figure out if the applicant is a good fit for your organization.

“Would you like it if someone started looking at their phone while you were in the middle of saying something? Probably not, so make sure you don’t treat applicants the same way. Remember that everything you do reflects the brand,” D’Souza says.

3. Having unrealistic expectations

One of the biggest mistakes you can make when trying to fill a job opening is to load the posting with unrealistic demands and requirements: four degrees, 10 years of experience, and fluency in three languages. But you can also bring these kinds of expectations into a job interview. It’s fine to have standards, but you should be realistic and give everyone a chance.

For more job posting tips and templates, download Workopolis’ free Practical Guide to Writing Job Postings.

4. Not understanding the role

If you haven’t written the job description, you should know what’s been listed there. More importantly, you should the details about what the role requires (on a day to day basis) and how it will fit into your team. Ambiguity in any way is a major red flag for a lot of candidates – remember that they are also trying to understand if this is a good fit for them.

“The same way you’d expect an applicant to come prepared and to have researched your company, you should be well-informed about the role. An interviewee should leave wanting to work for your company, and this can only come when they have a clear sense of what the day-to-day looks like, and how they would fit into the overall structure,” D’Souza says.

5. Asking “quirky” questions

This can be many things. It can involve not catering questions to the specific job (asking about past examples of teamwork makes sense for a manager, but not a truck driver). It can also mean asking strange questions. Yeah, that might give you a sense of a person’s character, but if you’re not careful, you can also come off as unprofessional.

“I don’t doubt that it’s fun asking a person if would rather fight one horse-sized duck or 100 duck-sized horses, but I think it’s debatable how valuable that answer is to your hiring decision,” D’Souza says.

6. Not coming prepared

Nothing is worse for a job seeker than a hiring manager sitting down in front of them and admitting they have not looked at the candidate’s CV. This can send a bad message to the job seeker about you and the company, but it can also hamper your hiring process.

“Again it’s all about being prepared. The more time you look at the applicant’s qualifications and background, the better the interview will be, and the easier it will be to determine if they are the right fit for your company,” D’Souza says.

7. Being too tough

Hiring is a serious business, but the candidate isn’t on trial. A smile and some work appropriate humour can break the ice, and sets the tone for the workplace – an extra-important consideration when it’s the candidate’s first time in the office.

“In the end, a job interview is really just a conversation. You want people to be relaxed and honest, so remember to keep it friendly,” D’Souza says.

8. Forgetting to be polite

This might sound obvious, but it’s surprisingly common for a hiring manager to fire off questions as if the interview is an interrogation. This can make candidates clam up – which means you might miss out on a superstar.

While these interview mistakes are the most common, there are others that are far more serious. Ageism, sexism, racism, and all the other nefarious isms that are prohibited by law can worm their way into our psyches without constant vigilance. Remember to enter every interview with an open mind.

Source: Undercover