6 interview mistakes that could cost you great candidates

By Ben Brown,

It’s no secret that good people are hard to come by. High caliber candidates will always be in demand. This results in every Hiring Managers nightmare – multiple offers! Henceforth it’s essential that companies portray a positive image that will entice candidates and get them excited about working within your organisation!

First, let’s establish the key ideas employers should be contemplating before they embark on the hiring process. Why should a candidate choose to accept your offer over another? Does your employer value proposition align to your values? Why would someone choose to accept and stay with your company past the crucial 6-month mark?

After establishing these fundamentals, here are 6 things to keep in mind when seeking to create a strong and lasting candidate experience.

  •    Making candidates wait

A common misconception is that keeping candidates waiting before they’re seen into an interview will create a supercilious impression- bad move. No one wants to be kept waiting for any appointment – It creates a bad first impression. If the candidate has been punctual and turned up early, they may be kept waiting for over 15 minutes. Not a great impression when you’re looking to attract the best talent (not push them away).

  •    Being unprepared

Everyone has heard the saying “Fail to prepare, prepare to fail”.

Review the candidate’s resume, including their education, achievements, hobbies and dates matched between roles – identifying where their potential skill gaps or suitability lie.

TIP: While preparing the job description, you will have created a ‘wishlist’ of skills, qualifications, experience and personality traits for the ideal candidate. Candidates are unlikely to fulfill every requirement. To determine the best candidate for the role, assign a weight % to each requirement and rank them accordingly.

  •    Focusing only on skills & experience

What some candidates lack in skill, they make up for in commitment and thanks. If you identify that someone can grow into a role over a course of time but will only deliver 60%  – 70% in the short term, then it’s worth revisiting that role scope to get the utopian business culture fit.

  • Throwing curve-balls

50% valuable, 50% useless! I know a senior director of a large Melbourne hedge fund who is adamant that by throwing curve ball questions, you separate the wheat from the chaff.
“How many hair salons are there in Australia?”
“How many parts in a car engine? Walk me through your thinking”.

Of course, no one cares about the answer. These questions are about demonstrating problem solving skills, but they confuse candidates and steer them off track.

My advice; know your audience and tailor your interview approach to each candidate.

  •  Not allowing for candidate questions

Always allow time for at least one or two questions so the candidate can gauge a better idea of the culture and expectations. If the candidate doesn’t understand what is required, you may find yourself refilling the role again in 3 month’s time.

  • Drawn out / Unclear process

Transparency is the key to a successful recruitment process. It’s pivotal you are clear on how many stages there are before a potential offer is made – whether testing is required, how many references will be taken, security probity checks etc. A candidate can then envisage how long the process will take and weigh this alongside their other interviews. Remember good candidates will have multiple offers – take your time and you’ll lose out.

  • Treat the candidate with respect

This is often overlooked. Taking an active interest in your candidate goes a long way in earning and building trust. Forming that personal connection with your candidate means they’re more likely to treat you how you’d like to be treated – with honesty and transparency.

  • Keep in contact after they decline your offer

There will a come a time when you meet the perfect candidate, but they have competing offers and accept the alternative. How often have you followed up after they’ve declined???  Candidates make the wrong decisions, companies paint unrealistic pictures of their culture and roles change frequently. Keep in contact and cement that person in your network so that when they decide to reignite their search – you’re the first cab off the rank! Communicating post-process goes a long way. If the candidate was impressed first time around, they are likely to be joining you when they make the leap!

  • Failing to sell your organisation

An interview is a two-way street – it is equally important for you to position your organisation and team, as it is for a candidate to sell themselves.

Hiring managers often concentrate too much on evaluation, missing the opportunity to inspire candidates. This is particularly important for hard-to-fill roles, where talented employees are in high demand. Consider and articulate the key attractions of the role and organisation, so the candidate is equally attracted to both the organisation and the role itself.

Remember it’s important to tailor your approach to each person. You want to strengthen your relationship with them and for them to see the value in being a part of your business. Recruitment is a craft, not a pre-defined “one size fits all” process. Follow these simple points and you’ll be creating a lasting candidate experience!