One of our client’s technology hiring managers reached out to us for our thoughts after eight programmers had consecutively declined his offer for a position with his team. It's hard to believe he lost out on eight great candidates before realizing their interview process might be the problem. However, it happens, so awareness of common interview mistakes is crucial to determine any errors your team or company might make that could give candidates cause for concern. Once you identify those areas of opportunity, you can start to improve your process to convert more of your offers into acceptances.
Based on our experience, we've identified top interview process mistakes that hiring managers make and how to avoid them.
1. Not making hiring activities a priority, resulting in significant interview delays
Hiring managers are very busy, but few things should take precedence over attracting the right individuals to join their team when they have a hiring need. If you take a week or more to look at a resume or schedule an interview, don't be surprised if that candidate (especially a good one) is no longer in the job market. Time is essential, especially in today's market when a strong candidate might have several offers within a week. One study by Officevibe found that "your best candidates are off the market within ten days!"
2. Interview process includes too many people or steps
A lengthy interview process with more than two steps is often the unknown downfall of many companies' hiring processes. Interview processes that last more than one or two weeks will undoubtedly cost you several candidates that might have been your best choices. Having too many decision makers in your interview process can create delays and ineffective decision-making. Do one interview and include anyone that will be working with or managing the candidate directly.
3. Ineffectively selling the position and company to the candidate
Good talent is in high demand. Many hiring managers focus on understanding the candidate's skills and qualifications and don't spend enough time highlighting why their opening, project or culture is appealing. Talented individuals want to know the team dynamics, culture, and the impact they will make on the company while in this position. Don't forget to invest time effectively sharing the position's details that will appeal to the candidate, focus on WHY the candidate will want to work there.
4. Appearing disengaged, unprepared, or unorganized
It's a candidate's market; talented individuals are interviewing the hiring manager just as much as they are being interviewed. If the hiring manager is poorly prepared or 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, avoid distractions with email, texts, calls, or looking at the clock; it communicates a disinterest to candidates. Projects, teams, and organizations cannot be successful without the right talent. 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. Excess focus on years of experience as a measure of capability
Many managers won't interview candidates or will rule them out if they don't have a set number of years of experience instead of being flexible with that requirement and understanding if the candidate has the skills and knowledge to 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 specific area does not tell the whole story of experience. Don't focus on the years of experience; focus on the candidate's actual abilities.
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 an extra 10-15 minutes to give the interviewee a brief facility tour, showing them your team's area and even introducing them to a couple of people if feasible. It'll leave a positive lasting impression on them and can make all the difference in their ranking your opportunity higher on their list!
7. Drab or poor interview conditions
Many of our candidates share similar statements about their interviews with firms. "I was taken from the lobby straight to a small interview or conference room with no windows, art, or personality of any kind. Then I went through a series of interviews and was led out of the building."
When you want to win over candidates, help them visualize working there. Providing better surroundings is a quick and easy way to improve the interview experience. Choose a room with light, décor, etc.
8. Unclear job description or priorities
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 its impact and purpose. As a result, candidates aren't given the opportunity to have their interests 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 or poor candidate connection
Most people want to work with managers and team members with which they have some commonalities, especially shared values. Make an effort to ask the candidate a couple of personable questions to open up the dialogue, 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 area or room. You can also start the interview with a connection to help ease any anxieties you both may have and lead to a better conversation.
10. Awkward or poor interview wrap-up
An interview can go exceptionally well on both sides, but if it ends poorly, it could sour the candidate's entire interview. Think through your interview wrap-up and have a strategy for addressing candidate questions and potential concerns. Communicate your interest to candidates you feel strongly about and share a timeline for the next steps and when a decision on an offer will be made. Many managers shy away from giving candidates any indication of their interest in them. While you don't want to commit to a candidate via the mention of an offer, it could be in your best interest to let them know you're excited about them.
11. No or minimal candidate feedback
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. Suppose you invested multiple hours in interviews for a company and position of high interest. 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 or recruiter working with the candidate should always be standard practice.
Are you interested in having your interview process audited to identify improvement areas? Connect with your Apex Account Manager or representative! Click here to find a local Apex Account Manager in your area.
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