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Interviewing: First Step in Improvement? What is NOT working?

In my last blog post I shared that while there are some managers/execs who truly are interview pros, most of you aren’t trained in interviewing. Your core skills instead rest in your offerings to your business, yet a vast number of hiring managers still think they are interview experts. 

So, now that we are all aware we are “winging” a process that impacts the most important decision we make in our organization — WHO decisions — let’s review the most common interview pitfalls and mistakes made by hiring managers so we know what not to do!

First impressions. A study by the Wall Street Journal indicated that 70 percent of the hiring decision is based upon the following: emotions, biases, chemistry, personality, and stereotyping. All of which have nothing to do with whether someone can actually do the job for which they are being interviewed.

Do you find yourself “liking” someone in the first 90 seconds of the interview? Take a step back for a moment and remember that we don’t have to “like” someone in order for them to be a good fit for the job. I’m not saying likeability isn’t an important factor; however, if we “like” someone we have a tendency to not interview as in-depth as we should. Our questions are easier, we smile more and nod approvingly to the answers and may not ask the same questions. We like them!  Of course they can do the job! We ignore negatives and our investigative process stops.

On the other end of the spectrum, what happens if we don’t instantly like someone? Our gaze may be more intent, we don’t listen as closely, our smiles are less frequent, and the head nods are non-existent. We put more emphasis on the negatives and undersell our opportunities.

Some hiring managers like to hire teams that are like themselves. While you may be a great manager, remember we all have flaws. A team that brings a variety of strengths to the table can help off set individual weaknesses and can often be much more powerful than a team full of “quarterbacks”. After all, someone has to run the ball in and without the kicker you may not hit those “extra points” in business.  (I know it is baseball season, but I am a football fan at heart!)

Interviewing Styles. Are you the “Chatterbox” who talks AT the candidate versus asking questions OF the candidate to learn about them? An interview should be about questions, not about monologues. What about the “Art Critic” who can “read” people by getting to know them through a series of non-work related questions but end up learning nothing about their genuine experience. Do you take the “Sponge” approach and let everyone in the office ask the same questions in hopes you and your team “soak up” information about the candidate? 

Another favorite of mine is the “Fortune Teller”. The questions center around “what would you do…” which only set the stage for your candidate to tell you exactly what you want to hear. In this strategy, the truth is yet to be told, but there is no better predictor of behavior than past experiences. The past predicts the future. 

Does your company use Aptitude Tests in the hiring process? There are many wonderful tools out there, however remember they are TOOLS in the process, and should not be used as a determinant to proceed. Most firms that provide assessments will tell you that it is just one piece of the candidate puzzle, and all pieces together should help you formulate your decision.

So what do you do now that I have told you all you are doing is wrong? Prepare.  There are more than 1.8 MILLION Web sites on preparing for a job interview.  Your candidates are preparing, why aren’t you?

Here are some questions to ask yourself to help you prepare for your next interview.

  • What is our interview process, or do we even have one? Who is involved and have they been trained in interviewing? 
  • Do we ask the same questions of each candidate?
  • Do we know how to describe the position and why someone would want to work for us?

As Elizabeth Ambri, Manager of the Celebrity Staff Lincoln office and I reviewed these hiring pitfalls in our last seminar, many attendees chuckled and even volunteered which method they have used and where they have fallen prey to traps. If you are like many of our customers, you have made some of these mistakes at one time or another. I have. They are easy traps. It takes a concerted effort to refrain from making a decision about an interviewee in the first 90 seconds, it takes practice to develop an appropriate interview style, and it takes restraint to reserve making your decision about a candidate for at least 30 minutes after the interview concludes. 

So the next time you contact your Account Manager at Celebrity Staff for assistance in finding the right candidate, invest in some preparation so you make a good evaluation of the candidates we present. What is the pay off to preparation? Reduced turn over, increased productivity, and saved time and money by hiring the right person the first time build a more effective team, and the list goes on and on. One more pay off? The people you hire are a reflection of you!

Want to join the next one-hour seminar available for continuing education credit for free? Become a Celebrity client!  Contact us today about your upcoming vacation coverage or strategic staffing needs and let us help you identify talent to help your company get ready for the economic recovery.


Patty North, CPC, Celebrity Staff Regional Manager

Patty North, CPC, Celebrity Staff Regional Manager

About Patty North, Celebrity Staff Regional Manager
As the regional manager of Celebrity Staff, a leading staffing and recruitment firm, Patty North has assisted organizations across a four-state region with the development and implementation of best practice strategies in the areas of talent acquisition and talent management. Her collective insight and expertise on workforce planning, garnered from her 15 years in the staffing industry, has enabled clients ranging from small businesses to Fortune 500 corporations to improve performance and gain a competitive advantage in their respective markets. Celebrity Staff is based in Omaha, Nebraska and serves the Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas and Missouri region.

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