job interview

11 ways a hiring interviewer can ruin an interview

November 11, 2013
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job interview 11 ways a hiring interviewer can ruin an interview

It isn’t just the applicant that can mess up a job interview

There are endless errors a job applicant can make, and most of the attention is spent on these types of errors, but entrepreneurs and business decision makers often suck at interviewing and commit more egregious errors than the interviewee.

To find out ways an interviewer can ruin an interview, we asked Jonathan Kennell, CEO of interview scheduling technology, Reschedge, to discover these errors. Kennell created Reschedge after talking with recruiters and learning that roughly a third of their time was spent scheduling interviews.

Kennell explains, “I happened to have studied planning and scheduling algorithms at MIT when I got my masters degree, and I thought of a way we could very quickly help schedule interviews using technology. We threw a prototype together over a month or so, and when our initial users told us how much they loved it, we decided to focus on it full time.”



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With his finger on the pulse of recruiting and interviewing, in his own words, Kennell offers the following 11 ways an interviewer can ruin an interview:

1. Poor time management

If you don’t cover all the topics you are responsible for, the hiring committee may not have all the information it needs to make a hiring decision.

2. An abrupt start

It’s important to take a few minutes to introduce yourself and keep the conversation light at the start of an interview. If you just jump into questions without a proper intro, you will maximize the candidate’s stress levels which can make a huge negative impact on their performance. They will also feel like you don’t care about them as a person, and most likely not want to work with you.

3. Mismatched questions

Many roles can be filled by candidates from a variety of backgrounds. If you ask a candidate a question that’s not appropriate for their particular background, they will most likely not do well even if they are a fantastic candidate.

Example: Asking a software engineer with a Windows background a bunch of questions about Mac programming.

4. Lousy feedback

If you don’t write enough detail in your interview feedback – especially the facts of what happened, and not just your opinions – the hiring committee may have to write off your entire interview as a waste.

5. Poor preparation

Everyone goes into an interview with some idea of what questions they will ask, but you can ruin an interview if you’re not ready for the range of potential answers to your questions. For example, many questions have multiple correct answers. How will you know what is a “good” answer? Better prepare – or your interview could be a wash.

6. Asking illegal questions

Asking something as simple as “Where did you fly in from?” can open yourself to problems with EEOC banned topics. Make sure you’re familiar with EEOC protected characteristics or you could ruin your interview by crossing the line!

7. Being too predictable

If you always ask the same questions, don’t be surprised if candidates share their experiences and people start showing up knowing exactly what you’re going to ask them. Mix it up a little – and ideally ask questions that don’t have a straightforward right answer.

8. Running long

If your interview is part of a series of back to back meetings, it’s critical that you finish on time. If you don’t, someone after you will most likely not have enough time to get through their topics, which may result in the hiring committee not having the information they need to make a hire / no hire decision.

9. Forgetting it’s a two-way street

The candidate isn’t the only one in the hot seat: if you fail to sell your company, you may do a great job of identifying a great candidate, but end up souring them on working with you.

10. Not showing up

It takes a lot of time, money, and effort to bring an interviewer and candidate together. If you blow off an interview or cancel at the last minute, you are throwing all of that away – and can probably kiss the candidate goodbye.

11. Poor coordination

It takes a lot of information to make an informed hiring decision. If you are part of a day-long interview panel and don’t properly coordinate with the rest of the team, the hiring committee can easily find themselves making a hire / no hire decision with inadequate information. Make sure you figure out in advance what questions need to be asked, and who is responsible for each topic. Then throughout the day, keep everyone posted in case a topic gets missed or the candidate gives an inconclusive response so you can revisit that topic with the interviews that are left.

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