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7 Mistakes Interviewers Make

7 Mistakes Interviewers Make

The first impression an employer makes is just as important (if not more important) than a job candidate's first impression. Candidates can usually tell from the first interview if they would be a good fit for the organization. For this reason, HR must hone in on optimal interview tactics to ensure candidates clearly understand the organization. This means steering clear of problematic practices that can push candidates away.  

Here are seven red flags that HR and hiring managers should avoid when conducting interviews to ensure they are attracting top talent and not pushing them away.  


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7 Mistakes Interviewers Make That Push Candidates Away

1. Interviewer Slip-Ups

Underprepared interviewers may slip-up and share information that can push qualified candidates away. For example, an interviewer may speak poorly of a previous employee, sharing information the candidate may not be comfortable hearing. As a more extreme example, an interviewer may share with a job candidate that the last 5 people hired for the role quit without notice within a few months of their start dates. Sharing that information in the initial interview ultimately leaves a negative first impression on the candidate and raises a red flag. No one wants to work for a company that struggles with retention. Naturally, candidates will be concerned that the organization for which they are interviewing is not a stable or desirable workplace.  


2. Lack of Professionalism

When organizations neglect professionalism, it can reflect poorly on the company's culture and work environment. If an employer is unprofessional during the hiring process, it may suggest that they tolerate similar behavior from employees or that the company does not prioritize professionalism and respect.

One way employers demonstrate a lack of professionalism during an interview is by using a cell phone during the interview or especially while the employee is answering an interview question. This sends a message that the interviewer does not respect the candidate's time or interest in the role, and ultimately drives top talent away. HR pros are busy, and constantly needed. If there's an urgent phone call you must take or a text you must respond to during the interview, kindly apologize and ask the candidate if they would give you a moment. 

Another way to demonstrate a lack of professionalism is by showing up to the interview late. Talented job seekers want to work for companies that prioritize punctuality. If the employer is late for interviews, fails to follow up promptly, or keeps candidates waiting for long periods of time, it may signal a lack of respect for the candidate's time and may indicate broader issues with time management within the company.


3. Personal Questions  

Asking personal questions can also demonstrate a lack of professionalism. Not only does it make a candidate uncomfortable, but it can also be illegal. 

Any question that could lead to biases in the hiring process can be deemed discriminatory by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). It's best practice to only ask facts-based questions that will help you determine the candidate's ability to perform the essential functions of the job. 


4. Job Description Surprises

Job seekers typically go into an interview expecting to receive more details on the responsibilities of the role they've applied to. After all, the job description can't possibly answer all of the candidates' questions. However, if the interviewer throws a curveball during the interview, the candidate may feel deceived. Here are a few examples: 

  • A job seeker interested in marketing and graphic design may apply to a role only to learn during the interview that the role is more sales-focused.
  • A nurse who has applied to a travel nursing position learns at the interview that the position only involves travel one month out of the year.
  • An HR professional applies to a Compensation Strategist role but learns in the interview that the hiring manager needs someone to manage recruitment and hiring pipelines.

In the last example, the interviewer is really looking for a recruiter, not a compensation strategist, even if the role involves some compensation strategy. These examples are referred to as "bait-and-switch" surprises. Once the interviewer has the candidate interested, they switch up the requirements of the role. Most candidates would feel misled and therefore, they are less likely to accept a job offer. 

For more insight, check out our blog on how to write job descriptions to attract top talent. 


5. Inflexibility

During the interview process, candidates may assess the employer's flexibility level to determine whether the company culture aligns with their values and career goals. 

A lack of flexibility can signal an unwillingness to adapt to changing circumstances, leading to a stagnant work environment. This can be particularly concerning in rapidly evolving industries where companies must be agile and adaptable to remain competitive. Candidates seeking growth opportunities and a dynamic work environment may see inflexibility as a red flag and may be less likely to accept a job offer from such an employer.

It is important to note that while this can be a turn-off for many candidates, some jobs and roles do not allow for the same flexibility as others. It is essential to keep this in mind when hiring for your open positions.


6. Unrealistic Expectations & Excessive Work Demands

Excessive work demands and unrealistic expectations on the employer's part during an interview can be a red flag for candidates. According to a Gitnux study, 72% of workers believe work-life balance is a dealbreaker when they're considering a new job. Job seekers want to work for companies that value work-life harmony and prioritize employee well-being. If the employer presents unrealistic expectations or demands excessive workloads during the interview process, it may indicate that the company culture does not prioritize these values.  

Excessive work demands can also contribute to burnout. When employees are expected to work long hours or weekends, it can lead to exhaustion. This can cause employees to feel unfulfilled in their roles and may increase turnover rates.


7. Not Using a Strong Applicant Tracking System

I was once part of an interview process where I was accidentally added to the hiring team’s email chain. I later realized they were sharing notes, opinions, and preferences about candidates via email, and they had no idea it was all getting sent to me!

This is just a small example of what can happen when an organization does not use a strong applicant tracking system. The hiring process quickly becomes disorganized and can drive talent away.

A disorganized interview process leaves the impression that the organization’s processes as a whole are disorganized. Candidates may also begin to question how current employees of that organization are treated. With an Applicant Tracking System, you can create job openings, post open roles, and review applicants with your hiring team. No need for anymore messy email chains.



Additional Resources

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