Avoid Common Mistakes Hiring Managers Make When Interviewing Candidates

  • ali
  • December 27th, 2021

“The leader’s most important job—selecting and appraising people—is one that should never be delegated” (Bossidy & Charan)

Hiring manager, talent acquisition specialist, or whatever title you might give this role, all have almost the same purpose: to find and onboard talented, competent, and valuable individuals to the company. Getting the best athletes in your team is the key to your business success.

People working in a company are resources and assets, so we as hiring managers have a big responsibility. We must come up with the best practices and ideas to find those talents we need and more importantly persuade them to join us.

As much as hiring a good employee can benefit the company in so many ways, hiring a bad one can be detrimental to business. And that is a risk we can’t take.

Interviewing candidates is one of the best ways to get to know your applicants and assess them, but if you only do it right. We brought here a few common mistakes managers make when interviewing candidates, so keep them in mind and try to avoid them on your next interview.

Not Knowing What to Ask

You can’t expect to hear the right answers by asking the wrong questions. You have a limited amount of time to do lots of interviews, so it’s better to have a list of questions prepared beforehand.

A few things you need to consider when you prepare your questions.

  • Tailor your questions for that role. You have to always keep in mind what position you are recruiting for and what qualifications are needed for that. Questions you ask should be aimed to assess those qualifications.
  • Don’t go sideways. You need to stay focused on what you are looking for. Asking a lot of questions about things not related to the job wastes your time and energy.
  • Don’t interrogate. Going too much into details not related to the job can make your applicant uncomfortable or even insulted. Asking about, for instance, their marriage situation, or their debts is not professional. We should respect others’ privacy.
  • Concentrate More on the Good Things. Every person has his ups and downs in life. We all have experienced failures and bad times. But we thrived again and passed them. So there is no need to focus on the bad things or things we might consider as a failure and try to dig deep into them.

Talking and Not Listening

The main purpose of job interviews is to get to know your candidate and evaluate him, but if you spend most of it talking, you lose that chance. Let the candidate talk more and try to catch what is important to you.

Not Being Prepared

Don’t just rush into interviews as you dive into a cold pool. Specify some time before the interview to review the resumes of applicants you are going to talk to. Plan for the interview so you don’t go off track. Try to understand which parts of his resume he is trying to bold.

Letting Personal Biases Get in the Way

Given the social nature of interviews, there is often significant room for interpretation. It is not just intentional favoritism or stereotyping, but more often, one of many unconscious cognitive biases that can influence our ability to judge talent and hire effectively.

Some of these biases are:

  • Similar to Me bias. It happens that you encounter someone during interviews who have similar hobbies to you, or you went to the same school or love the same football team, and so on. But sharing personal characteristics must not blind you to the main things.
  • First Impression Error. First impressions matter. So what happens here is our initial snap judgments in an interview can set the tone and color the rest of the interview time.
  • Confirmation Bias. The first two biases together can lead to confirmation bias. Confirmation bias can occur when we seek information that reconfirms our preexisting notions about an individual. And this can often lead to inconsistency in questioning when we treat different candidates differently and ask different questions.
  • Overconfidence Bias. Overconfidence is a cognitive bias that makes us think we have better performance and judgment than most others. So it prevents us from even considering the biases we might have.

Fail to Have a Fixed Process of Interviewing

Let’s assume that you have finished interviewing your applicants, and now you want to select the best-fitted one for the job. How are you going to compare them?

Comparing candidates is a significant matter that does not show itself until you reach this step, and you better have thought it through before you started your interviews.

If you do the interviewing for each candidate differently, like asking different questions, giving different information, and so on, then you face the problem of not having consistent metrics for comparison.

Making Bad Impression

During a recruitment process, a company makes contact with many people, but only one or a small number get hired and the majority get rejected. Keep in mind that although we don’t need those rejected candidates today, we may need them in the future or maybe they become customers of our company. Also, they are going to tell others about their feeling about us. So it is very important to avoid putting a bad impression on any applicant we meet.

Here we have some banal but common mistakes that put a bad impression:

Being Too Formal

We all know that interviews can be stressful and overwhelming sometimes. Being too formal at the interview can intensify stress in the candidate, which is not good for him or us because it prevents him from thinking clearly to answer our questions.

Besides, as we said before, we are the representatives of the company and too much formality at the interview may give the applicant the impression that the work environment of the company is formal too.


It is a good thing that we are happy with working in our company and yes it is an excellent and successful business, but there is no need to exaggerate about it. Saying things that convey boasting is not good and especially boasting ourselves.

Being Too Honest

It is a fact that most applicants for a job are not qualified enough. But it is not necessary to tell them directly. Looking for jobs, sending out resumes, and going through different interviews is hard and often disappointing. So it is much better if we don’t make it harder. Telling people that they are not good enough or acting as if they are not important can lower their confidence or even insult them. Try to be patient at interviews and find the best way to say no to them later.

Not Caring About Their Time

There is nothing as annoying as waiting for someone to show up at a prescheduled meeting. When you plan to do a lot of interviews on a tight schedule, make sure to arrange them in a way that does not overlap, and if one of them took longer than expected it doesn’t make the next one wait. Besides being annoying, keeping applicants waiting will tell them you are not an organized company or don’t care about their time. If something like this happened, make sure to inform in advance or at least make an apology call.


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