Everyone’s interview process is unique in some form or fashion. Like most, your interview process is crafted so you can get the most information out of your candidates to increase hiring confidence and make the right hiring decisions. However, there are often small problems in interview processes that could ultimately affect the success of hiring decisions.
If you go too long without evaluating your own process, then you risk letting these small things fester. In the long run you could be setting yourself up for failure down. So, as you prepare to evaluate your interview process, here are 5 common mistakes to look out for and how you can solve them.
There is No Structure
Structured interviews are one of the BEST predictors of job success, yet many interviewers don’t structure their process. Structured interviews outperform unstructured interviews in reliability and validity. In fact, a structured interview’s best asset is the fact that they allow interviewers to assess each candidate equally, allowing for better comparison.
Without interview structure, interviewers may have a hard time staying on topic, comparing candidates, and asking the right questions.
Now, I know what you may be thinking. You don’t get the flexibility you want when you structure your interviews. Well, the good news is that you can have a structured process while still using “in-the-moment” questions to dig deeper in conversation. This is called a semi-structured interview process. In this process (and in a structured interview process), you:
- Decide in advance what you are evaluating the candidate on
- Create a set list of questions you plan on asking – these should reflect job duties and necessary skills
- Make sure all of your questions are appropriate and legal
- Determine how you want to grade or score each candidate based on their answers – Be sure to incorporate a way
Another thing to remember is that semi-structured interview processes may prompt questions that are not on your original list. That is okay. Just make sure that the questions are relevant and you still have a way of note-taking or scoring that evaluates each candidate equally.
Making Quick Decisions Based on Unconscious Bias
Often, we begin evaluating candidates before they even open their mouths. From the moment they walk into the room, we are judging them based on what they are wearing, how they smell, how straight their posture is, and so much more.
While some of this information could potentially be valuable, it is important that we don’t let small nuances in their appearance or body language keep us from hearing the value in their answers. Unconscious biases are real, and can keep you from hiring a highly skilled candidate if you are not careful.
There are many solutions to help fight unconscious biases during interviews, but here are two that are proven effective. The first is to interview with a diverse team. Interviewing with a team not only gets multiple perspectives, but it also helps eliminate non-essential information. While you could do the easy thing and just have 2-3 interviewers help interview one candidate, there are other ways to get interviewers involved. You could:
- Use asynchronous video
- Record your one-on-one interviews
- Have others listen in or watch your zoom interviews as they take place
A second solution is to create a score sheet to use during the interview. With a score sheet, you can decide what you are evaluating each candidate on, and ensure that each candidate is rated consistently on the same factors. This will help you rely a little less on your memory and emotions, which aren’t always incredibly accurate.
Not Asking the Right Questions
This comes right down to a lack of planning and preparation. If you aren’t asking the right questions in an interview, then it is impossible for you to evaluate candidates on ANY set of criteria. Creating a line of questioning is crucial because it allows you to measure and score exactly what you need to determine how successful the candidate could be.
You know you are dealing with this issue if at the end of your interviews, you still aren’t sure whether the candidate can be successful in the role or not. At that point you may not have gathered enough role- or skill- specific information to make a decision.
Luckily, the solution to this problem is easy, but it does require a little work. First you’ll want to revisit your job description and the notes you used to create your job description. Highlight all of the essential skills, and take note of the job’s day-to-day tasks, as well as any projects the person in that role may need to complete. Then, based on these requirements, create a line of questioning that will help you evaluate candidates based on those skills.
Last, be sure to assess the reliability and validity of your questions before using them in your interview. Have another interviewer/hiring manager review them. You could also confide in a manager from the department you are hiring for. For example, if you are hiring a junior software engineer, then have the senior engineer rate some of your questions.
Using Historical Information to Predict the Future
Most interview questions are either evaluating past behaviors or examining what candidates would do in hypothetical situations. While these are good ways to evaluate candidates, you also run the risk of not getting a complete picture of who the candidate is and what skills they possess. Reasons behavioral and situational questions may offer an incomplete picture is because they don’t take into account:
- Workplace environment/culture – often the workplace environment can dictate how we handle different situations due to policies, rules, and/or other environmental factors.
- How prepared the candidate is to say what the interviewer wants to hear – great candidates are well aware of what a good answer sounds like, so they may give an answer that doesn’t necessarily reflect their personality or history.
Even though behavioral and situational interview questions are subject to these risks, it doesn’t mean we need to throw them out entirely. It just means we have to be a little crafty. Do this by following up the candidate’s answer with a more specific question regarding the scenario. This could be something like:
- “What went through your head when this situation first began unfolding?”
- “Why did you _______?”
- “Why would you do ________ instead of _______?”
- In this hypothetical situation, what would you do if ________?
Throwing curveball follow up questions to dig deeper into the situation can give you insight on whether the candidate is telling the truth and what factors caused (or would cause) them to act in the way they did.
You Don’t Follow Up
We are in the age where it seems like there are more open job roles than there are quality candidates. This means that you are in fierce competition with other businesses. Taking too long in any part of your hiring process could cause you to lose out on a candidate that accepts a job with another company. This is especially true with candidates who are interviewing for multiple roles. So, while it is commonplace for candidates to reach out to YOU to follow up after an interview, it is time that we flip the script.
Timely communication and feedback during your hiring process is a key to retaining quality candidates throughout the entire process. This is especially true after the first round of interviews. If you aren’t particularly impressed with a candidate, then let them know they weren’t chosen (maybe even offer some feedback).
On the other hand, if you really liked a candidate, then you shouldn’t waste time reaching out. Let them know you are interested, and you plan on keeping them in the loop with how the hiring process will progress. That way they know they are valued, and they will be more hesitant to ghost you and take another offer without at least letting you know first.
Making these small tweaks to your interview process are easy and could make a world of difference. After you’ve recreated an interview process that helps you make decisions easier, go ahead and start hiring with a free job post on Job Searcher.