Is Your Company Coming off Poorly in Job Interviews? 4 Things to Check

When you lose a job candidate to another company — or worse, to a competitor — it’s easy to assume it was due to factors out of your control. Perhaps they were offered a better salary or financial perks you can’t afford, for example.

But in reality, finances are just one of many elements that entice a candidate to choose one company over another. The companies that win candidates are the ones that make potential hires feel welcomed and respected at every turn. And they’re the ones that demonstrate their competence at every opportunity — especially during interviews.

Unfortunately, many businesses don’t take full advantage of interviews to impress job candidates. Instead, they approach the interviews as a business-as-usual task, which often gives candidates more reasons to hesitate before accepting a potential job offer.

Often, companies aren’t aware of their off-putting behavior. But by thinking through a few important elements of the interview process beforehand, you ensure that you’re making a good impression.

Choose The Interviewer Carefully

Interviewers should make job candidates feel like VIPs, but a Pachera Group survey found that the opposite was often true: candidates thought 40% of job interviewers seemed unprepared and repetitive, and 30% felt like they were unexpected when they showed up for their interview.

To avoid that at your company, choose only well-qualified and well-prepared interviewers. All interviewers should meet this criteria, regardless of their role in your company:

They have a personal stake in a successful hire. This will naturally make them more enthusiastic and attentive. It may also qualify them as more knowledgeable about the person’s role and how to figure out if they’re a good fit.

They’re personable, intuitive, and good at listening. Frankly, these are skills that everyone can benefit from, and not just in business. But it goes without saying that you don’t want to put someone with poor social skills or who is known for abrasiveness in the role interviewing star candidates.

They have the time to dedicate to interviews and will take them seriously. If your interviewer is too rushed or is adding the interviews to the bottom of a long to-do list, they probably won’t make a great impression. Accountability in this arena should come from the top: Interviewers should know that hiring great people is a top priority for the company and a business-critical task.

Choose Good Interview Questions

Of course, any job interview should be more like a conversation than a series of questions akin to a high school pop quiz. But questions still make up the essence of any interview, so make sure you have great ones. Here are some best practices:

Stick to a Script

It can be fun to have off-the-cuff conversations and spend time trying to make personal connections with candidates. However, this style of interviewing has some downsides.

The Harvard Business Review explains that “structured interviews, whereby each candidate is asked the same set of defined questions, ‘standardize the interview process’ and ‘minimizes bias’ by allowing employers to ‘focus on the factors that have a direct impact on performance.’”

Any job you’re hiring for should have a list of several outcomes that the candidate will be expected to achieve. These should be challenging, attainable, and specific. Veering away from those outcomes in the interview questions may lead you to hire the less-qualified candidate.

Sticking to a set of predetermined questions also gives your company more control over how the interviews will go and therefore, the impression the interview will make.

Skip the Oddball Questions

It used to be that big companies, in particular, would serve up tricky and seemingly off-the-wall questions to try to test candidates’ abilities to adapt and solve problems on the spot.

For example, Google used to ask questions like “how many golf balls can fit inside a school bus?” — but that has changed, according to one exec’s interview with the New York Times. Laszlo Bock noted that the brainteaser questions were “a complete waste of time,” and didn’t predict anything regarding the success of the hire.

Take a note from Google and skip the brainteasers — and for that matter, any question that isn’t related to the objectives you established for the job. Forbes columnist Liz Ryan would agree, citing questions like “What kind of soup would you be?” or “What kind of tree would you be?” as “wildly inappropriate.”

“You’re not on a play date,” she writes. “You’re on a job interview. Somebody’s livelihood and ability to feed their family rests on this meeting, so let’s maintain some decorum.”

Keep it Interesting

Yes, you need a script. Yes, the interview questions shouldn’t be too kooky. But that doesn’t meat that questions should be stale or boring. If your interviewer comes across like they don’t really know why they’re asking the question they’re asking, the best candidates will be able to sense their disengagement from a mile away. That’s not attractive to enthusiastic potential employees.

Making questions experience-based is a great way to engage candidates and get valuable information. For example, “Do you prefer to work alone, or in groups?” could be changed to “Tell me about a time you worked with a group to achieve something you were proud of.”

Don’t Discount the Interview Location

If you were taking someone out on a first date and wanted to impress them, you probably wouldn’t opt for just any restaurant with a table available. But that’s what many interviewers do when they meet job candidates: They conduct job interviews in whichever space is available at the time.

Your setting will affect how your job candidate thinks about your company, even if that impression happens subconsciously. For example, if you want to be seen as vibrant and modern, you certainly shouldn’t hold the interview in a stale room with bad lighting.

Prioritize your ability to have an uninterrupted conversation in a quiet space that reflects your company’s brand. You can show the potential hire the rest of the relevant areas of your office after the initial interview.

Meet Them at The Door

Most of us tend to think of a job interview as the actual sit-down conversation. But technically, job interviews start when the candidate walks into the building — and don’t end until they walk out.

After all, their punctuality matters, and their behavior in the reception area could potentially factor into their evaluation. Just the same, you need to be considering the impression your company makes during these times.

As we mentioned in our recent post, 4 Subtle Ways to Attract the Best Job Candidates, your reception area should be inviting. The candidate should feel welcomed. They shouldn’t be left waiting in the reception area. And after the interview, the candidate should be walked back out and acknowledged and thanked by the interviewer and front desk staff.

Job interviews start when the candidate walks into the building and don’t end until they walk out. Share on X

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