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11 Mistakes to Avoid During the Interview Process

August 2017- By: Vivek Mehta, Jason Mathews, Dustin Sandoval, Greta Koehler

One of our technology managers reached out to us after he had eight programmers in a row decline his offer to ask our thoughts on what they were doing wrong. It took getting turned down by eight candidates he wanted to hire before he realized their process, and how they treated interviewees, might be the problem. Awareness of common interview mistakes is crucial in order to determine any mistakes your team/company might be making that could be then tarnishing the candidate’s impression of you. Once you identify those areas of opportunity, you can start to improve your process in an effort to convert more of your offers into acceptances!

Based on our experience, here are the top 11 mistakes we see clients/managers make:

  1. Significant delays to scheduling interviews due to hiring-related activities not being prioritized. Hiring managers are very busy, but few things should take precedence over attracting the right individuals to join their team(s) when they have a hiring need. If you take a week+ to look at a resume or schedule an interview, don’t be surprised if that candidate (especially a really good one) is then no longer in the job market. Time is of the essence, especially in today’s market, when a strong candidate might have several offers within a week. One study by Office Vibe found that “your best candidates are off the market within 10 days!”

  2. Too many people and/or steps involved in the process. A lengthy interview process with more than two steps is often “the silent killer” of many companies’ hiring process. Interview processes that lasts more than one or two weeks will undoubtedly cost you several candidates you might’ve wanted to hire. Having “too many cooks in the kitchen” during your interview process can also result in delays as well as ineffective decision-making. Identify who will be working with the candidate and who the candidate will be reporting to, and include both parties in one interview with the same message.

  3. Don’t effectively “sell” their position and the company to the candidate. Good talent is in high demand. Many hiring managers focus only on understanding the candidate’s skills/qualifications and don’t spend enough time highlighting why their opening, project, culture, etc. is appealing. Talented individuals want to know the team dynamic, culture and the impact they will make to the company while in this position. Don’t forget to invest time effectively sharing the details of the position that’d appeal to the candidate, focusing on WHY the candidate would want to work here. If you missed it, review part 3 in this hiring tips blog series on ‘Tech Candidate Motivators!’

  4. Seem disengaged, unprepared and/or unorganized. Remembering that it’s a “candidates market,” talented individuals are interviewing the hiring manager just as much as they are being interviewed. If the hiring manager is poorly prepared and seems disorganized, this may give the candidate the sense that the manager, the team, and possibly the entire organization lack organizational skills. This can send the message that projects may be poorly run and that they may not be properly invested in, or worse yet, put in a position to fail if hired. During interviews, don’t get distracted with emails, texts, calls or looking at the clock, which communicates a disinterest to candidates. Without the right talent, projects, teams, and organizations cannot be successful. Show candidates that having the right people on your team is a high priority and give them the attention they deserve during the process.

  5. Too focused on ‘years of experience’ as a measure of capability. We see so many clients that won’t interview candidates or will rule them out if they don’t have a set number of years of experience rather than being flexible with that requirement and trying to understand if their skills and knowledge can do the job. For example, an individual with two years of front-end programming might have stronger competencies than someone with five years. Remembering that all environments are different, a resume or number of years with a certain area does not tell the whole story on breadth and depth of experience. Don’t focus on the years of experience, focus on the candidate’s actual ability.

  6. No visibility into culture or team dynamics. Showing the candidate that they’d be working in a collaborative, cohesive, fun culture is one of the easiest and quickest ways to get them bought into your role and team! After a positive interview, take the extra 10-15 minutes to give the interviewee a quick facility tour, showing them your teams’ area and even introducing them to a couple people if feasible. It’ll leave a positive lasting impression on them and can make all the difference in them ranking your opportunity higher on their list!

  7. Drab/poor interview conditions. Many of our candidates share the following about their interview – “I was taken from the lobby straight to a small interview/conference room, with no windows or art or personality of any kind, went through a series of interviews, and then was led out of the building.” When you want to win over candidates, you want to help them visualize working there! You also want to provide better surroundings, which is a quick and easy way to improve the “interview experience.” Choose a room with light, décor, etc.!

  8. Job description/priorities aren’t clear.Many managers are so focused on qualifying the candidate that they spend very little time explaining the position, what it will entail, who it will benefit, how it will be done, and what impact it will make (i.e. purpose). As a result, candidates aren’t given the opportunity to have their interest sparked. Another potential consequence that is all too common is that a candidate might accept a job they don’t end up enjoying and will quit soon after starting.

  9. No connection made with candidate. Most people want to work with Managers and team members they feel they have some commonalities with, especially shared values. Make an effort to ask the candidate a couple questions to open up the dialogue, adding a bit of a personal feel, such as outside interests, summer travel plans, when they broke into the IT field, etc. The best time to develop a little rapport is as you’re escorting them to the interview room/area or starting off the interview to help ease any anxieties you both may have and lead to a better conversation!

  10. Poor or awkward interview wrap up.An interview can go extremely well on both sides, but if it ends poorly, it could sour the entire interview for the candidate. Think through your interview wrap up and have a strategy for addressing candidate questions and potential concerns, communicating your interest to candidates you feel strongly about, and share a timeline for next steps and when a decision on an offer will be made. Many managers shy away from giving candidates any sort of indication of their interest in them, and while you don’t want to commit to candidate via mention of an offer, it could be in your best interest to let them know you’re excited about them!

  11. No/minimal feedback on candidate. One of the biggest frustrations job seekers experience is interviewing for a role, not getting selected, and having no indication on why they missed out. This is a good “put yourself in their shoes” exercise. If you invested multiple hours in interviews for a company and position you were interested in, would it be frustrating to get absolutely no feedback on why the company went with another candidate? People thrive on feedback, and providing positive and constructive feedback after an interview to the account manager/recruiter working with the candidate should always be a standard practice.

Interested in having your own interview process audited to identify improvement areas? Connect with your Apex Account Manager/Representative! Click here to find a local Apex Account Manager in your area.