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8 Critical Interview Problems That Might Derail Mission-Critical Hiring

Not many could claim to have developed the perfect interview process. Companies have their own ways of going about their interview processes. But not many would be willing to realize the penalties attached to a risky interview process, thereby sabotaging the interviews.

Like everything else attached to business, the interview is also a process. As such, it could also benefit from a little bit of an audit. You just might be surprised at how many bad habits might have grown over long periods of time. For starters, a set of misconceptions have been observed to be common. Here’s a look at some of the usual suspects.

Candidate with Interview Panel

1. Inconsistent Patterns

If left unchecked, it is extremely easy for inconsistencies to creep into the interview process.

Interviews are often scheduled several times in a single day. There’s always the odd day where we’re in a terrible mood because of a personal issue. All these are very human things which could immediately cloud our judgment.

Nevertheless, for the interview process to be successful, consistency is paramount. Remember, no one wants to lose a brilliant candidate to an innocuous headache.

How to Fix

Thankfully, there are some neat ways to fix bad mood issues. 

  • Stick to a scoring system that judges candidates based on several parameters and not just on your gut feel
  • Let each stage of the interview process have a dedicated interviewer that interviews every candidate
  • Rid yourselves of negative emotions by taking breaks in between
  • Try and schedule the most similar interviews on the same day so you approach each candidate with the same frame of mind
  • On the flip slide, it is also important to not schedule too many interviews on the same day because even that can take a toll on the decisions you make

2. The Bias Game

Fortunately or otherwise, human beings are born with bias. That’s built into our nature. We seek out shared interests in others by default. More often than not, this translates into recruitment processes sabotaged by favoritism.

The bias game is actually way stronger than it looks. At a deeper and personal level, these biases could extend up to gender, religion and race.

But there are also many other things that could make you partial towards one candidate over the other. It could be anything under the sun from the same hobbies, the same kind of humor, the university, or even similar vacation ideas.

While it is important to be compatible culturally, there are other more important things to consider.

How to Fix

The most popular way to avoid interview bias is to have a full panel for interviews. It’s even better if the interviewers are of varying ages, personalities, and cultures.

Now, this is not always a possibility, especially during early interactions. Also, panel interviews have downsides of their own, the most significant being the pain of organizing them. But, at large, there are more benefits than disadvantages. Even one extra person at the interview helps iron out a lot of personal bias.

3. Conversation Fatigue

Conversation fatigue during interviews is interview fatigue. It is a real problem and can dig a deep hole into the interview process. Every interviewer worth their salt will not find it difficult to confess that the first candidate gets equal ounces of attention as the last.

This is a genuine human flaw that could potentially write good candidates off during long and tiresome days of interviews.

How to Fix

The secret is easier said than done – you cannot let the fatigue get to you.

take regular breaks between consecutive interviews. Scrape out time to write down your immediate thoughts about the interview that just passed. Most importantly, space out a little before you speak to the next candidate.

The general consensus is that anything beyond three to four interviews a day is a bit of a stretch.

A panel interview helps here again by giving you a clean and unbiased perspective of the candidates. A smart way to plan is try and understand which times of the day you feel the most and the least efficient.

4. Preparation 

Most candidates put their hearts and souls into preparing for an interview. But do interviewers also put in the same amount of effort for the interview?

Many interviewers try to fly by the seat of their pants when they feel out of control about the direction of the interview. If that’s on your cards, too, you’ll make it virtually impossible for yourself to make an informed decision.

Also, this is hardly any way to impress good candidates.

How to Fix

Get these in place before you start the interview:

  • Read the CV thoroughly and make notes of anything that you’d want your candidate to elucidate.
  • Create a detailed checklist of attributes you are looking for in a candidate; this could include skill, experience, work culture compatibility, etc.
  • Be thorough about the job description so you sound on point when the candidate asks you about the job
  • Chalk out the most common questions a candidate could have about the job and chalk out the answers for those

5. Impulsive Decisions 

Aren’t we all guilty of this? We paint a picture in our heads within seconds of meeting someone. During the interview, it is extremely important that you put this sense of impulsive judgment at the back of your mind.

If this is not done right at the start, you might spend the entire interview finding negatives that support your first judgment. You might come across as too argumentative and leave your candidate zero chance of impressing you at all.

How to Fix

You must find ways to stop your snappiness from tainting your reasoning.

  • Think as your candidate would. Nervousness is the default setting. Let them have the benefit of the doubt if they make an early mistake. 
  • Follow the procedure. Speed up the interview if the candidate makes a mistake, but do not give up on them. Stay fair and offer them a genuine chance to win your back over. 
  • Bring an interviewing partner. That will rid you off any personal biases that you might have carried over into the interview room. 
  • There’s every chance that the candidate is indeed unfit for the position. In that case, you’ll at least work with the knowledge that you tried. 

6. Poor Line of Questioning 

Interviews are a total waste of time without the right set of questions. If you do not have great questions, the hiring decision is more of a roulette than a well-thought wager. 

Bad questions are way more common than you’d think. Do not stay bent on asking questions that are difficult or have an impossible trick. Ask questions that are relevant and are at appropriate levels for the candidates in question.

Trick questions that are sinister-difficult to answer will only end up making the candidates feel terribly about themselves. Even worse, they will hold back from showcasing their true capabilities. 

There’s actually a little bit of self-questioning that could help here. Ask yourself if the candidate is really supposed to know the answer to that question.

Standard Questions

By standard, what we really mean is predictable. There is a set of questions that you’d expect almost every candidate to prepare for. That means they will have a reasonably good idea how they want to answer those questions.   

  • For these questions, it is only fair to mix things a little and not make it entirely predictable. 
  • Remember, predictability in questions is met with predictability in answers 
  • On the upside, it is also great to observe how to different candidates handle the same predictable questions differently

Inappropriate Questions 

Stay miles away from questions that could be perceived as being even remotely discriminatory. It is not just the wrong thing to do, but could also have very serious legal implications.  

How to Fix 

For one, ask better questions. 

  • Ease your candidate into the interview before you throw a bunch of difficult questions at them.  
  • Some candidates might be right for the job yet be naturally nervous for the interview and stress interviews weeds them out anyway.
  • It is generally pointless to ask candidates ridiculously impossible to answer questions 
  • Swap the stereotypical “what’s your biggest flaw?” with something that is hopefully fresher 
  • Don’t try to over-script the interview. Good candidates can have great natural conversations. Give them a chance to do only that.
  • Never discuss any of these: sexual orientation, age, marital status, disabilities, cultural issues, inappropriate jokes, and convictions.  

7. No Follow-Up 

This is a huge issue that keeps happening again and again. 

The story goes like this: hiring managers get the perfect candidate and the first stage flows like a dream. However, there is no proper follow-up. In such cases, the candidate feels unsure about your response, applies for other positions and invariably accepts some other offer.     

No one likes to wait around for ages, regardless of how big your company is. 

How to Fix

Follow up with all job candidates. 

  • Write emails to unsuccessful candidates stating the reason for their rejection
  • Pass on the positive feedback to successful candidates. Tell them about the next steps of the interview process and make an honestly manage their expectations
  • Don’t take too long to make a hiring decision and let the candidates know immediately once you have decided on hiring them  
  • Candidates are all the more likely to wait around for you once you show that you care for them 

8. You’re an Inexperienced Interviewer 

Many interviewers seem to ignore the fact that an interview is still a conversation. That means both the interviewer and the candidate need to impress one another. 

Here are some common attributes typical of an inexperienced interviewer:

  • They do not stay patient when the candidate is replying 
  • They speak too less or too much 
  • They aren’t fully prepared to handle lengthy interviews
  • They are dishonest about the job description or the company 
  • They try to appear intimidating before candidates 
  • They try too hard, ending up looking desperate 

The good news is that none of these are so bad that they cannot be fixed. And so often, most interviewers figure it out with experience. 

How to Fix 

There’s nothing to be afraid of even if you notice any of the above points in yourself. 

Start off by requesting someone senior to join you for the interview. That itself calms you down. Then, follow all the points stated before. Take it one step at a time. 

Do not shy away from being natural because you do not need to put on a certain guise to successfully interview a candidate. 

Always remember to hear out what the candidate has to say. Know how many questions you want to ask and plan your time accordingly. That way, you will not stray into stretching any one point for too long.  

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Goutam Auknoor