The Most Common Interviewer Mistakes

By Posted in - Interviewing on December 17th, 2010 0 Comments

In more than 25 years of working with organizations to improve their talent management, I am amazed at the lack of improvement in one of the most basic and ubiquitous HR talent management processes, the employment interview.  The reason for a lack of significant improvement is not a lack of knowledge.  The employment interview has been one of the most researched talent management processes around.  Decades of research consistently show the same thing: Structure Matters!  Structured interviews have demonstrated high validities in predicting job success.  Unstructured interviews are little more than a “personal chemistry” check and have the validity of a coin toss.

Nevertheless, countless line managers repeat the same bad habits every day.  These are three of the most common mistakes that relate to a lack of a structured approach:

1.  Failure to define requirements

Most amateur interviewers don’t take the time to carefully define the requirements for successfully performing a job.  They don’t consider the full set of knowledge, skills and abilities that underlie successful performance and instead, focus on a small number of vaguely defined personal traits.  They might look for candidates who are “savvy, ”“go getters,” “quick on their feet” or “tough-minded.”  These traits, if operationally defined in terms of actual behaviors, could potentially serve as a partial set of requirements.  However, without defining the work behaviors that reflect these qualities, it is difficult for an interviewer to properly explore or evaluate them in an interview.

2.  Failure to structure an interview plan

Amateur interviewers don’t the time to plan their interview strategy.  An interview strategy should include what questions will they ask, how much time they will devote to different requirements, and what they are looking for in an ideal response to each question.  The strategy also should  include information the interviewer wants to share with the candidate and proper time for the candidate to ask questions.  Amateur interviewers often feel that they need only spend a short time with a candidate in a casual conversation to determine a candidate’s qualifications.  They rely on their “gut feel” rather than a systematic interview strategy.

3.  Failure to take notes

Amateur interviewers rarely take notes.  They don’t feel that they are necessary.  They often make up their mind early in the interview and don’t see the value in recording responses or they rely on memory to rate the candidate sometime after the interview.  Unfortunately, there is a good probability that they will not be able to fully reconstruct the candidate’s responses from memory.  It is better to record just the critical elements of a candidate’s response so that you have a shorthand record of the circumstances, primary actions and results described.  Notes provide a trigger for full recall so that information can be shared with other interviewers and responses properly evaluated.  They also show that the interviewer is taking an active interest in what the candidate is saying.

At OMNIview, we are committed to providing organizations with the tools to improve all their talent management practices, including the employment interview.   Our practical and affordable fitQuest™ selection management software with e-learning interviewer training can quickly convert bad interviewing practices into best practices.

Patrick Hauenstein, Ph.D.

About Patrick Hauenstein, Ph.D.

Patrick Hauenstein is the President and Chief Science Officer for OMNIview. During his free time Pat likes to cook. He is particularly fond of traditional southern cuisine. Pat is also an animal lover ...
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