10 Interview Errors that Can Scare off Top Talent (Part 2)

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Businessman shouting with a megaphone at his scared colleagueIn the first part of this article, we talked about how important it is to not take candidates for granted as top talent will have alternatives if your organization doesn’t appear to match up. The interview process is a two-way street. This is why it is important that you operate a highly promotional interview process and avoid the common pitfalls and mistakes that can turn off top candidates. The first five top interview mistakes, which scare off candidates, were:

  1. Portraying a one-way interview process
  2. Not being prepared
  3. Asking irrelevant brainteaser questions
  4. Long and complex interview process
  5. Asking if a candidate is a self starter able to work with limited guidance

Below, you can find the next five top interview mistakes:

6. Inappropriate questions

Asking questions that violate federal or state laws and privacy is one of the fastest ways to scare off top talent. Such questions might include:

  • How old are you?
  • Are you married and do you have children?
  • Are you planning to have children?
  • Can I have your password for your facebook account? 
  • How would you handle managing a team of men?

Asking these questions can make your organization come across as ignorant, prejudiced, bias, unsophisticated, and behind the times.

7. Asking if a candidate is available for overtime

Now, really it’s a given that most candidates will need to work some overtime in order to get the job done, so asking an overtime question is likely to alert the candidate. By asking the question and drawing attention to overtime you can make the candidate believe that the job requires extensive overtime and/or that there may be risk of burnout, which can be an obvious turnoff. So, avoid asking this question as it may give a misleading impression, unless of course the job actually does require extensive overtime.

8.When can you start?

This question needs to be carefully worded . Asking a candidate, when their potential start date would be were he or she offered the job sounds like good planning, but as soon as you start time stamping the questions with pressurizing phrases like, “When can you start?” or “How soon can you start?” you create a sense of desperation, which can make the candidate think that you may be managing a crisis.

9. Asking too many questions around conflict management.

While this enables you to really find out if the candidate can manage him/herself and others in a high-pressure environment, it has a negative flip side. If you are seen to be focusing too much on conflict management, the candidate may begin to feel that there is a serious issue with team morale and cohesiveness, which could make it seem like an undesirable environment, no matter how good the person’s conflict management skills.

10. Not knowing enough about the role.

There is nothing worse than going to an interview when the interviewer does not know enough about the open position (or even the company in general). If the interviewer doesn’t have enough information about the role, he or she can’t really conduct an effective interview and/or answer the candidate’s question. It can make the interviewing process feel like a waste of time for the candidate and is a big turn off.

Read more in Interviewing

Kazim Ladimeji is a Chartered Member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, and has been a practicing HR professional for 14 years. Kazim is the Director of The Career Cafe: a resource for start-ups, small business and job seekers.