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How to Scare Off Top Candidates: A Primer

By January 24, 2014 No Comments

frightened manThe most talented candidates know that interviews are a two-way street.  They’re being assessed for a fit with the prospective employer, but they’re doing some sizing up of their own.  This is so critical for interviewers and hiring managers to remember, since the company that woos the best gets the guy (or gal).

Below are 10 errors to avoid in the interview process, each key to also keep from turning talent off just when things were starting to heat up.

  1. Giving the impression that your assessment is the only one that counts.  You and your staff should be courteous, respectful and responsive throughout the process.
  2. Failing to prepare.  Or to show up on time.  The candidate’s time is valuable, too.  Be sure not to – however unintentionally – send the message that you’re too busy for them or don’t take them seriously.
  3. Treating the interview like a game show.  While seemingly random questions (“Why are manhole covers round?”) can help to assess a person’s critical thinking skills or ability to think on his or her feet, what does the answer prove, really?
  4. Dragging candidates through a prolonged interview process.  Be respectful of candidates’ time; three or more interviews is pretty excessive by anyone’s standards.  Don’t leave talent feeling uncertain about where they stand or whether the company is serious about filling the position quickly.
  5. Hinting opaquely at a lack of leadership.  Ask whether a candidate is a self starter, capable of working independently and a candidate might infer you’ve got an ineffective management team at the helm, perhaps even one that exploits its top talent.
  6. Going off the rails on a crazy train.  That is, asking questions you ought to know better than to ask.  Just stay far away from detours that take you near age, marital status, religion, political affiliation and a host of other items of a very personal nature.
  7. Asking about overtime.  Questioning whether overtime will be a problem can immediately give the impression that extensive overtime is part of the deal.  If it isn’t, don’t bother going down that road.  Most people expect to work additional hours occasionally.
  8. Sounding desperate.  If you’re asking about the soonest date the candidate can possibly start, he or she might gather that something’s amiss – a crisis or a serious backlog.  And you want your newbie to be excited about the first day, not dreading it.
  9. Focusing too much attention on conflict management.  Seems like a no-brainer, but because nothing goes without saying, dwelling on this skill will probably tell your candidate, in no uncertain terms, that there’s a bumpy road ahead.
  10. Falling down on the job when it’s your turn to answer questions.  If you come off as not being knowledgeable about the position or the company, the interviewee will probably leave unsatisfied and feel his or her time has been wasted.

Thanks to Recruiter.com for inspiration, here and here.