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15 Interviewing Mistakes Managers Make

Executive Summary

During the interview process, even the most experienced manager can make a mistake that could derail them from finding the right candidate.

  • Having seen her share of interviews gone awry, Diane Arthur shares her wisdom on how to successfully avoid the common pitfalls of the interview process.
  • Just as what a potential job candidate says matters to you, your "performance" as an interviewer can hold significant weight when it comes to both finding and retaining the right person for the job.
  • During the interview process, it's vital that you don't fall prey to the 15 most common mistakes interviewers make.

Nick Dawkins is the HR manager for Clarisse Inc., a communications company with about nine hundred employees, located outside of Boston, Massachusetts. He currently has several openings to fill, including one for a business office supervisor. Nick has cast a wide recruitment net, using a variety of sources. As a result, he has identified several possibilities, all of whom look impressive on paper.

Nick is ready to begin the interview process. He knows that he has to first carefully screen the applicants before bringing them in for interviews. He plans on conducting screenings either by phone or video. Assuming there is continued interest, Nick intends to schedule each applicant for a series of comprehensive interviews: First, there will be the HR interview with himself; next there will be either a departmental interview with the business office manager, or a panel interview with the business office manager and other selected managers; finally, there might be a peer interview with business office colleagues and other supervisors.

By selecting a combination of different types of interviews, Nick is confident that he will find the most suitable business office supervisor for Clarisse.


Regardless of the type of interview you’re conducting, there are some pitfalls about which you should be mindful.

  1. Avoid interrupting the applicant, as long as he is saying something relevant.
  2. Avoid agreement or disagreement. Instead, express interest and understanding.
  3. Avoid using terminology with which the applicant is unlikely to be familiar.
  4. Avoid reading the application or resume back to the applicant.
  5. Avoid comparisons with the incumbent, previous employees, yourself, or other applicants.
  6. Avoid asking unrelated questions.
  7. Avoid talking down to an applicant.
  8. Avoid talking about yourself.
  9. Avoid hiring an unqualified applicant simply because you are desperate to fill an opening.
  10. Avoid trying to duplicate someone else’s interviewing style.
  11. Avoid allowing applicants to interview you or to control the interview.
  12. Avoid hasty decisions based solely upon first impressions, information from others, a single response, body language, or your biases.
  13. Avoid asking questions that might be considered violations of EEO laws (even in a roundabout way).
  14. Avoid judging applicants on the basis of cultural or educational differences.
  15. Avoid conducting stress interviews of any sort.

Excerpted with permission from Recruiting, Interviewing, Selecting, and Orienting New Employees by Diane Arthur, copyright Diane Arthur.

Bring It Home

It's easy to picture a nervous interviewee fumbling his way through the interview process. But, what about the one doing the interviewing—could their blunders hold just as much weight? Whether it’s being condescending, getting uncomfortably chummy, or ridiculing a candidate’s education, an interviewer’s mistakes will likely cost them a qualified candidate.

Comment below to share your most unusual interview experience. What did the interviewer do wrong, or what did they do that you’d want to imitate if you were in their shoes? ~ HarperCollins Leadership Essentials

Diane Arthur author of Recruiting, Interviewing, Selecting & Orienting New Employess

Diane Arthur

Diane Arthur is the founder of Arthur Associates Management Consultants, Ltd. Human Resource Development Specialists. For the past 30 years, she has provided training and consulting services to numerous organizations in all facets of HR, especially in both nonprofit and corporate work environments.

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