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5 Common Interviewing Errors

As an interviewer, it’s easy to fall into bad habits. Being aware of some of the common errors interviewers make can help ensure you don’t fall into the same traps during your interviews.

Lack of preparation

Not preparing properly is one of the most common mistakes. No interview is likely to be a success if you haven’t read the candidate’s resume, you’re unfamiliar with the job requirements, and you don’t know what questions to ask.

Asking ineffective questions

Asking questions that don’t elicit the information you require can waste time. And if too many of your questions fall in this category, the interview probably won’t reveal whether the candidate is really suitable for the job.

Ineffective questions often result from these types of questions on the part of the interviewer:

  • Diverging from focus — If you don’t have a plan and don’t use a job description, it’s very easy to diverge from what’s relevant during an interview.
  • Asking closed-ended questions — Interviewers often make the mistake of asking close-ended questions, which prompt a candidate to respond with just a “yes” or “no.” These questions often begin with words like “did you,” “have you,” or “are you.”
  • Failing to ask “why” — Interviewers who ask “what” questions and forget also to ask “why” miss out on a lot of information. They focus on what candidates did, but not on what their motivations and reasoning were.

Strategies to help

Three main strategies can help you avoid asking ineffective interview questions:

  • prepare some questions in advance to guide you as you move through the interview;
  • use the job description for the position that’s available to check that all the questions relate directly to actual job requirements, and
  • be flexible — let what the candidate tells you spark new questions.

Talking too much

Another common error interviewers make is talking too much instead of listening. Your main purpose in an interview is to get information from the candidate.

Along with talking too much about the company or themselves, interviewers sometimes put words in a candidate’s mouth. Another trap related to talking too much is spending too much time building rapport at the beginning of the interview.

You can improve your listening when you’re conducting an interview by following a couple of simple steps:

  • remind yourself that your role is to get the candidate speaking and to find out how well this person could perform the job that’s available, and
  • make sure you take active interest in the candidate, listen carefully, and take notes when necessary.

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