Every time I see an article on what not to do during an interview, it’s directed toward the candidate. Well, in the recruiting world I’ve seen an equal number of interviews go badly due to something the hiring manager did or didn’t do as because of something the candidate did or didn’t do. A few of the major don’ts come to mind.
Don’t forget that the candidate is interviewing you every bit as much as you’re interviewing him or her. I’ve read countless articles advising candidates on how to dress during an interview, how to present themselves, how to answer questions, etc. But I rarely see any advice for hiring managers regarding the same points.
As the “interviewer,” you’re representing the company. You’re the first impression, so to speak — and, ultimately, the impression that candidates take away with them. So, just like the candidate, you should be dressed professionally, present yourself well, and be prepared to answer questions about the company and the position you’re looking to fill.
Don’t forget to sell the opportunity. During a first interview, it’s crucial to get enough information from candidates in order to be able to decide if you want to move forward with them. But it’s equally important to make sure that you provide enough information about the opportunity that they want to move forward with you.
Be prepared to sell your company as well as the opportunity. Why would someone want to work for you? What will this position provide for him or her? You need to be prepared with selling points about not only the position, but also about the company itself.
Don’t ask too many general questions. Just because you’re interviewing someone doesn’t mean that you should be asking question after question in a rapid-fire manner. This is especially true if these questions are of the basic “interview” variety.
Take a look at the candidates’ résumés before they come in and prepare some questions unique to their background. Or better yet, create conversation topics rather than questions. Remember, this is only the first interview; you will have plenty of time to get more details. Be sure that candidates feel like you’re taking an interest in them — as opposed to drilling and qualifying them.
Don’t delay your decisions. This can be one of the biggest mistakes hiring managers can make: They interview someone whom they like, and the candidate is equally interested in the job. And then? There’s a delay in the process. The hiring manager decides that he or she would like to talk with other candidates “just to be sure.” Or the process is delayed due to scheduling conflicts with others involved in the interviewing process. With each passing day, the candidate becomes less and less interested — whether they’re protecting themselves from the rejection they anticipate due to the delay or because they simply do not want to work for a company that cannot make a decision.
In closing, it’s important to ask questions and gather information about a potential candidate. But the goal of a first interview should be to get the candidate interested in moving forward in the process while gathering enough information to decide whether you would like to do the same.
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