8 Potential Problems With Your Interview Process (And How to Fix Them)

Have you ever turned down a job candidate because you were in a bad mood? Asked an interview question that you knew they wouldn't be able to answer? Hired someone you got on with, but who wasn't the best person for the job? You're not the only one.

June 20, 2023

When’s the last time you assessed your interview performance?

Every company will have their own way of doing things, but have you actually taken the time to analyse your own process and make sure you’re not sabotaging the interviews yourself?

As with every business process it helps to take an objective look, an audit if you like, and look closely for any bad habits or problems that may have arisen overtime…

…and there are some common mistakes and misconceptions that crop up over and over again.

Let’s take a look.

1. General inconsistency

It’s pretty easy to accidentally allow interview inconsistencies to filter into the process.

From scheduling interviews at different times of the day, to entering the room in a bad mood due to a personal issue, we’re only human and even the smallest of things can affect our judgement.

But consistency is absolutely crucial to a strong, successful interview process.

You don’t want to miss out on a brilliant candidate, just because you had a banging headache, were overtired or in a bad mood, when you interviewed them.

The Solution:

There are a few ways to avoid this kind of issue...

  • Put a scoring system in place which will assess everyone fairly, based on your expectations of the successful candidate.
  • Make sure the same person interviews every candidate at each stage of the process.
  • Leave any personal feelings at the door. Take some time between interviews to take a break, relax and rid yourself of any negative emotions.
  • Schedule interviews close together, ideally on the same day so that your approach and mood remain fairly regular.

Of course, it’s also important not to schedule too many interviews across one day. You could end up getting interview fatigue (see number 3) and that could also negatively affect your decisions too.

2. Interviewer bias

Human beings are prone to certain biases; it’s an unfortunate, but inherent part of our nature!

We’re generally hard-wired to seek out common traits and interests in others, which could ultimately mean that the recruitment process could be sabotaged by our own favouritism.

Recruiter Pro Tip On a more serious level, these biases could include things like race, gender and religion. But there are loads of other little things that could make you prefer one candidate, to another.
  • Perhaps they have the same hobbies as you?
  • Maybe you went to the same university?
  • Do they have a similar sense of humour?
Although cultural fit and personality are important, they are not the most important things to consider – and you shouldn’t give someone a job, just because you like them more.

To find out more about how interviewer bias could be affecting your process - click here.

The Solution:

A great way to prevent bias is to host a panel interview, ideally with interviewers of varying ages, genders, cultures and personalities.

It isn’t always possible (especially at first stage interviews) and there are some downsides to panel interviews, for example, they can be more intimidating and they’re harder to organise.

But at Coburg Banks, we believe that the positives outweigh the negatives and even if you only bring one other person into the interview, that will add some clarity and fairness to the decision.

Click here for some tips on hosting a panel interview.

3. Interview fatigue

Interview fatigue is a very real problem that could sabotage your interviews.

Imagine you’ve set aside a whole day for interviewing candidates. Can you honestly say that the last candidate will get the same level of attention as the first?

This is a real flaw in many interview processes and it could genuinely cause you to write off potentially great candidates.

The Solution:

Don't allow yourself to get fatigued!

  • Schedule regular breaks between each interview, giving yourself time to jot down your immediate thoughts, but also, time to relax before the next candidate.
  • Limit the number of interviews to no more than three or four a day.
  • Panel interviews may also help you to get a clearer, unbiased view of all your candidates.

When planning, it's always worth considering what times of the day you feel most (and least) efficient.

4. Lack of preparation

I’m sure you expect all of your candidates to do a great deal of preparation, prior to attending an interview.

But do you do the same?

If you attempt to “wing it,” then you won’t know what kind of questions to ask or what kind of answers you’re hoping to hear. It’ll be almost impossible to make an informed and fair decision.

And of course, your candidate certainly won’t be impressed!

The Solution:

Before entering the interview you should have…

  • Thoroughly read the candidate’s CV, making a note of anything you’d like to ask your candidates to expand upon.
  • Come up with detailed criteria of exactly what you’re looking for in a candidate, including skills, experience, personality and cultural fit. It can help to have a checklist that you tick off as the interview goes along.
  • Learnt all the details of the job description. Your candidate is bound to ask about the job and if you’re not able to answer, you’ll look a little bit silly.

Click here to check out some more tips on preparing properly for interviews.

5. Snap judgements

Ok, we all do this. Within seconds of meeting someone, we make a decision on a variety of things including whether we like them or not.

As an interviewer, you must push this initial, snap judgement to the back of your mind.

If you don’t then you’ll spend the entire interview looking for negatives to back up your original hunch, you’ll probably come across badly (moody, lazy, intense, argumentative) and your candidate won’t have a chance in hell of winning you over.

The Solution:

Try not to let your initial judgement taint the rest of the process...

  • Put yourself in your candidate’s shoes. They’re bound to be uber-nervous, so if they do make a mistake, give them the benefit of the doubt.
  • Stick to the script. If your candidate makes a bad first impression, don’t give up on them and try to speed your way through the rest of the interview. Be fair, be consistent with your interview process and give them a chance to win you over.
  • Bring someone into the interview with you. It could be that your unconscious biases are causing you to make snap decisions. If this is the case, then a panel interview could help you to make a clearer and fairer decision.

If you do give them a chance and they fail to impress throughout the entire interview, then at least you can say you tried!

6. Bad interview questions

If you’re not asking the right questions, then your interviews are a complete waste of time and your decision becomes more of a lucky dip than a serious consideration.

And honestly, you’d be surprised how many people ask the wrong questions...

Difficult and trick questions

All interview questions should be relevant and at an appropriate level for that specific candidate.

Asking dead difficult or trick questions that are actually supposed to trip people up will leave candidates feeling uncomfortable, awkward and will stop them from showing their true capabilities.

Be fair and ask yourself – does the successful candidate really have to know that?

Predictable questions

You should expect that each and every one of your interviewees will be prepared when they enter the room and (if they’ve done their research) they’ll already have a pretty good idea of standard interview questions and how they’re going to answer them.

So make sure you mix things up a little bit and don’t just stick to the clichés.

If you ask predictable questions, you can expect predictable answers!

Click here to find out some of the most predictable interview questions – and some alternatives.

Inappropriate questions

You must never ever ask questions or make comments that could even remotely be perceived as discriminatory.

No matter how much you get on with a candidate, such topics could easily offend and have serious legal implications (not to mention the damage it could have on your company’s reputation).

The Solution:

Ask better questions, of course...

  • Make a real effort to ease your candidate into the interview before bombarding them with a bunch of difficult questions.
  • Remember, stress interviews won’t work for your nervous, shy or confidence-lacking candidates (but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re not right for the job).
  • Don’t ask ridiculously difficult interview questions that you know your candidates won’t be able to answer. It’s pointless.
  • It’s really important to ask some fresher and more challenging questions as well as the bare necessities like ‘what’s your greatest weakness?’
  • Try not to be over-scripted. A great candidate will be able to improvise and have a natural conversation with you, so give them a chance to do just that.
  • Do NOT attempt to discuss any of the following: age, sexual orientation, marital status, cultural issues, disabilities, illness, criminal convictions, innuendos, inappropriate jokes.

Click here to get your hands on 80 great example interview questions you could ask.

7. Lack of follow up

This is a HUGE issue and it still happens time and time again.

Hiring managers find the perfect candidate, the first stage interview goes brilliantly, but they fail to follow-up promptly enough. The candidate, feeling insecure, unsure and unloved, then moves on, applies for other jobs and invariably accepts an offer somewhere else.

Why should they wait around for you?

The Solution:

Make sure you follow up with every single one of your job candidates…

  • Let unsuccessful candidates know why they weren’t chosen.
  • Keep successful candidates in the loop about how the process is progressing, what the next stages will include and be clear and honest about time-scales.
  • Let your candidate know ASAP when you decide to hire them (and don’t take long to make that decision in the first place).

Show that you love them and they’re much more likely to wait around for you.

Click here to check out some handy follow-up email templates from HubSpot.

8. You’re just a bad interviewer

A lot of interviewers seem to forget that it’s not just the candidate who’s on trial.

You too are being judged.

In our experience there are few common factors that make a bad interviewer, bad...

  • They don’t give the candidate a chance to speak.
  • They don’t speak at all.
  • They aren’t prepared.
  • They try to intimidate candidates.
  • They blatantly lie.
  • They try too hard and look desperate.
  • They overshare.

But often, all of these absolutely fixable traits come down to one thing - lack of experience.

The Solution:

Become a better interviewer!

Luckily we have a blog that will help you with that - 7 Tell-Tale Signs That You're a Bad Interviewer.

Want more advice?

This blog post is an extract from my latest eBook "The Ultimate Guide to Hosting the Perfect Interview." If you'd like to read more, click here to download it, for free.

Remember, recruitment is a two-way street.

Good luck.

Coburg Banks - Multi-Sector Recruitment Agency
We help great people get brilliant jobs in top companies.