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7 mistakes you make when conducting an interview

Screening & Selection

7 mistakes you make when conducting an interview

And how to avoid them...

Ever get the feeling that you’re not sure what questions to ask in an interview? What about the feeling that you dislike the candidate…but you’re not sure why?

Next time you conduct an interview, watch out for these seven common mistakes. They can affect your actions, your judgment and even your final recruitment decision. Avoid them and benefit from a more fair and valid interview process.

1. The Halo Effect

“I really like him/her, but I’m not sure why”

You immediately like the candidate, but you’ve based your opinion on one or two positive sets of skills and traits. It might be your mood, or your sympathies, but what you’re actually doing is not being completely objective.

2. The Horn Effect

“I really dislike the candidate, but I’m not sure why”

The reverse of the halo effect; you immediately dislike the candidate and are averse to any positives they may have.

3. Leniency

“It doesn’t matter that he/she doesn’t meet the minimum requirements”

Sometimes we may be too lenient on candidates who are not very experienced or qualified, making the assumption that they may quickly pick up on what they lack in the working environment.

4. Stringency

“He/she will never be able to…”

Your assessment is far too strict and you run the risk of never finding a candidate that meets your impossibly high standards.

5. Too many averages

“Let’s not be too negative or too positive”

You are constantly rating your candidates as slightly above or slightly below average, flattening out the potential peaks. This may happen when criteria are not exactly clear.

6. Desperate measures

“After all those other candidates we’ve seen…”

After assessing a number of very poor candidates, the first one with a slight positive starts to look great. Meanwhile, he is realistically just average.

7. The Memory Effect

“That last candidate seems to be the man for the job”

Research shows that discussions with the first and last candidates are the most memorable. If you don’t make good notes, it may affect the reliability and validity of your opinion on the candidates in the middle of the series.

How to guard against making mistakes

  1. Make notes.
  2. Make decisions based on actual observations and the candidate’s responses.
  3. Plan realistically. Keep aside ample time for decision making. Do not plan to see too many candidates in one day. Ensure you set aside sufficient time to discuss, observe and assess.
  4. Use a structured interview instead of an unstructured interview. Research shows that preparing competency-based questions in advance results in a far higher chance of hiring the right employee for the role.
  5. Compare each candidate to an objective benchmark, instead of against one another.


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