The Key to Productive Interviews that Land the Top Candidate: Check These Mistakes at the Door

August 14, 2012

I hear it a lot from hiring managers: “I just don’t think XYZ candidate wants this job,” or “ XYZ rejected the offer.”

Well I have some news for you, after you reschedule the interview twice and when you finally sit down to start your interview by peppering questions at the candidate, immediately putting them in the hot seat, chances are they are gun shy about the opportunity.

It is time to change your hiring attitude. Here are four interview mistakes to check at the door in order to have more productive interviews that land your top candidate:

1) Taking the “Impress Me” Approach

Let me start by saying, if you treat every interview like a test — “What can you do for me? Impress me.” — you are going to come across a slew of rejections and disappointments. The interview process should be give and take. You should always lead the interview with positives about your company to give the candidate incentive to want to work both there and for you. Think about times when you’ve been interviewed — have any of them started with, “So tell me about why you want to work here?” Probably not. That’s because it is up to you to tell the candidate why they should want to work for you. They likely won’t know that your company is a 100% fit simply from reading your website and following your company on Twitter.

2) Canceling Last-Minute

Did you ever have a friend who cancelled on you all the time, and at the last minute? Think about how unreliable that made them look. Cancelling the day of makes it appear you think your time is more important than the candidate’s. Sure, there are emergencies that come up, but constant rescheduling makes you come off as flakey. If you are like that during the interview stage, the candidate wonders, how are you going to be as a manager?

3) Dominating the Conversation

When I screen a candidate, I guide the candidate through the interview, but by no means do I take over by asking question after question. You can learn a lot about what kind of an employee a candidate is by just by letting them talk. If you have a question on something they say try phrasing it in such a way to get them to keep revealing things about themselves. For example, “Tell me about your boss. You mentioned you are leaving because of your unhappiness with her management style.”

4) Closing with, “Any questions?”

When the candidate has finished telling you about his or her experience, open up the dialogue, but not by simply asking, “Do you have any questions?” Instead, be specific and really dig down. Ask pointed questions like, “From what you learned about this position, are there any concerns you have about taking on this role?” “What are the obstacles you would need to overcome to be successful in this position?” “How can I help you understand this role better?” By asking questions that evoke more than a simple yes or no answer you are uncovering potential road blocks in hiring the candidate, and you can address those immediately.

So hiring managers, next time you have a candidate in front of you for an interview, think about what you could be doing better to make the process smoother. Chances are you may be the one who needs to do a little bit of selling to get the best candidate on your team!

Senior Corporate Recruiter

<strong>Lindsey Gurian</strong> is the Senior Corporate Recruiter at <a href="">Acquia</a>. She was previously a Senior Talent Specialist at Sonian, responsible for recruiting initiatives at both the firm and its portfolio companies.