What are the Worst Interview Mistakes you’ve seen as a Recruiter?

There are a few mistakes that keep creeping back again and again when our team talks with candidates.

Not being prepared. Set aside a time and a place for the discussion with the recruiter, in case of a phone interview. Our recruiters had several interviews that were scheduled in advance, and the candidate was not prepared and put us on hold to step out of the office room. Other candidates were in loud spaces, with a lot of background noise that made it hard both for us and for them to hear us properly. That could usually be a deal breaker when interviewing with the client directly, so we suggest being prepared in advance. By giving your undivided attention to the interviewer, you show respect and interest in the opportunity.

Overconfidence. Employers look for candidates who are confident and who do not second guess themselves because that can be counterproductive. Of course, with some roles, employers need candidates who have that cut throat attitude and a higher degree of confidence to be successful. At the same time if a candidate takes that to the point of dismissing the employer or the recruiter it will be a deal breaker for the recruiting process. One of our most recent encounters with this type of candidates was with a specialist that started off the conversation with our recruiter in the following manner: “Hi. Let’s cut to the chase and tell me what’s the pay. Recruiters don’t know anything about this role so I don’t want you to waste my time.” Needless to say, this candidate did not get a chance to schedule a second discussion with our recruiter.

Lack of professionalism. We expect from our team to have a professional approach to candidates, to supply the relevant information and to make sure the candidate has all the resources to be successful. Anything less is not acceptable to us. That is why, when candidates ask our team members personal details, ask them on a date, ask confidential information about the client or the interviewers that is let’s say the least problematic.

Punctuality. Our internal policy is to confirm interviews via Calendar invites, email (with additional info), phone, etc. From time to time we do deal with candidates that simply don’t show up and don’t have an objective reason for that, or candidates who don’t show up but always have an excuse prepared. Another problem we deal with is when candidates don’t send in documents we need or don’t confirm various aspects in a timely manner. This wouldn’t be the case where somebody just has a full week at work and just can’t set time aside for this but candidates who don’t respect the timeline they agreed on.

The last one mentioned but one of the most common mistakes is: applying for and pursuing jobs that are not in their area of expertise. Their resumes look impressive and include every possible key/buzzword and perfect composition! These are candidates full of themselves, and who think they can talk their way through any interview, topic or skill. When you get to talk to them you’ll notice that they are excellent speakers, but terrible when it comes to specific examples and details. Whenever you pursue a specific topic and try to drill down, they’ll come back to a stock/rehearsed answer. We’ve seen this happen most often with contractors, who are under pressure of finding their next gig, which might very well make the difference between the continuation of work and a 3–6 months break.

Our recommendation is that you ask questions – starting with “why”, then “why” and finally “why”. As a recruiter, you are not an expert in the area for which the candidates are being interviewed for, so it’s difficult to go very deep into technicalities. However, the general rule of thumb is that candidates that are good at their trade should be able to articulate in simple terms and with examples/analogies what is it that they do, why they are good at it, and the degree of expertise that they have.

Ignoring or not being aware as a recruiter of this intentional or innocent mistake that candidates make will lead to waste of time on all ends and worst-case scenario to hiring someone who just doesn’t fill the need of the role they’ve been hired. Weak links lead to weak outcomes.

 

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