7 common interview mistakes (and how to avoid them)

Interviews are one of the most important stages in the hiring process and also the stage most prone to error and costly mistakes.

As recruitment consultant Claire Flaherty, points out, “interviewers are in the position of power during the interview process and it’s important this power isn’t exploited, both in terms of how you conduct the interview and how you interact with candidates.”

Avoiding common interview pitfalls makes the hiring process run smoothly and helps you avoid losing out on great candidates. Here are 7 mistakes to steer clear of.

1. Being late

“Being late isn’t a great first impression when you’re looking to attract the best talent,” says Greg Kouwiloyan, Director and Co-Founder for Method Recruitment Group, as it adds undue pressure and negatively impact a person’s performance.

People often step out from their current job for an interview, so it’s vital that you set an interview time and stick to it. If you’re interviewing multiple candidates in a row, factor in the possibility of going over time and build this into your scheduling.

Being prompt creates an atmosphere of mutual respect and sets the tone for a positive candidate experience.

2. Being under-prepared

Not reading a jobseeker’s resume before an interview shows you haven’t valued the time they’ve dedicated to the process or worse, that you’re disinterested.

Having a solid read of a resume not only “helps you to identify any concerns but also allows you to formulate specific questions around a candidate’s suitability and background designed to get the most out of them during the interview,” Flaherty adds.

It also gives candidates a positive insight into the culture of your business.

3. Focussing too much on skills and experience

According to Flaherty, “the best interviews ask a mix of both technical and behavioural-based questions to really determine a candidate’s suitability.”

What some job seekers lack in skills and experience they make up for in commitment and cultural contribution, so this approach allows you to explore a person’s fit with your business and whether they can grow into the role over time.

4. Throwing curveballs

While some people argue that curveball questions “help you separate the wheat from the chaff”, Kouwiloyan believes that “no one is actually interested in the answers to these types of questions.” While asking a candidate, “what kitchen utensil would you be and why?” might showcase their problem-solving skills, curveballs generally confuse candidates and steer them off track.

Instead, ask questions based on the selection criteria and allow job seekers to show what they can offer.

5. Dominating the conversation

An interview is a two-way street, so be sure to give candidates the opportunity to ask their own questions.

Candidates should be encouraged to talk about 80% of the time which, Flaherty believes “helps hirers to gauge their level of interest, how inquisitive they are and their ability to question and process information.”

6. Drawing the process out

Transparency around timelines is key, especially for strong candidates who may receive other offers. Be sure to communicate how many stages there are before making a potential offer, whether any testing is required and what the reference checking processes are. This way a candidate can “map out how long the process will take and weigh this alongside other prospective offers,” Kouwiloyan says.

7. Underselling your organisation

An interview is an opportune time to position your organisation and team, so it’s important you highlight key attractions of the role and not focus too much on evaluation. This is particularly important for competitive roles and in instances where candidates have multiple offers.

As Kouwiloyan says “recruitment is a craft, not a pre-defined one-size-fits-all process” so try and tailor your approach to each person and build a relationship with them so they can see the value of being a part of your organisation.

Get interview ready

Prepare for your next interview with SEEK’s Interview Builder. This easy-to-use resource provides access to 40 best-practice interview questions in an easy drag-and-drop format.