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By Carol Johnson 18 Aug, 2017

There is no doubt that interviews are absolutely integral to the recruitment process, however a badly organised interview process or inferior techniques can put off the best candidates from accepting positions, or lead to a poor decision being made, and the wrong candidate hired.

Johnson Underwood have come across many terrible interview techniques over the years and we’ve put our 10 favourites into a list. Remember, these are our favourite bad techniques, we do not condone using these!

We’re releasing our top 10 over the whole month so without further ado, here are numbers 7 and 8.

7.     Asking Irrelevant Questions

This technique is so engrained into interviewing styles that it is easily mistaken for being essential when really, what does knowing that information actually gain? It could be said that many of the questions addressed so far in this blog, could be considered irrelevant but I’ve chosen the following three as specific examples.

·        Where do you see yourself in 5 years’ time?

This question can be seen as irrelevant because the interviewer really does not need to know where you see yourself in 5 years time. It might seem like they want to know if you plan to stay with the company for a long time, but it is well known by now, that candidates will lie if it thinks they will get the job, so how is asking this question really going to help assess their staying power? You can get a general idea of how long they have stayed at other jobs by looking at their CV, but ultimately, you want to employ the right person who can do the job now, and, if you want them to stay for a long time, that’s up to you as an employer, to nurture and support them in their role so they have the satisfaction and loyalty they require to stay for a long time.

·        Tell me about yourself

 Asking relevant questions and paying attention to the CV should give you all you need to know about a candidate in order to decide if they are able to do the job you’re advertising. If you want to know more about their work personality, ask them questions that will give them the opportunity to talk about their achievements, experiences of teamwork and perhaps break the ice by asking them to talk about one of the hobbies they’ve listed on their CV, making sure that you let them know it’s not an official question. However, asking such a broad, open ended question about a candidate just gives the impression that the interviewer will be judging them and they also won’t know when to stop talking, how will they know when is the question answered?

·        Who do you most admire and why?

Again, this is a personality related question and the interviewer will be judging the candidate on their response. It’s unlikely that the interviewer will relate the answer to work ethics and more likely, relate it to their own personal preferences. There are three main issues with this question and they occur because the interviewer may have unconscious, or conscious, bias.

o  They won’t know who the person is, that the candidate has mentioned, will be embarrassed, and therefore making them less likely to like the candidate

o  They will fiercely dislike the person and judge the candidate as having bad taste

o  They will fiercely like the person and judge the candidate as having better taste than other candidates

Of course, this won’t always happen, the interviewer may be completely neutral and not judge the candidate’s person of choice at all, in which case, why ask the question? You could ask the candidate if they have anyone in the industry that they particularly admire, or have they got a favourite product that is relevant to the role but even then, you are toeing a thin line regarding personal preference and doubt as to what constitutes the right answer.

8.     No questions

With all the issues surrounding the different lines of questioning that have already been mentioned in this blog, you can be forgiven for deciding not to ask any questions at all, and simply observe candidates in action. This is, however, an ill-advised technique as questions give candidates the opportunity to discuss their actions and the reasons behind them.

For example:

·        Observing a group of candidates interact with each other in a problem-solving situation will lead to a number of judgements made about each candidate. By not inviting them to answer your questions about the role they took in the scenario, you are taking a risk that you make an incorrect assumption or misunderstood a great technique that makes them a highly valuable candidate, as something else and you discount them.

By not asking questions you are not giving candidates an opportunity to address your observations of their actions and demonstrating the full range of their skills and knowledge.

What do you think about these techniques, have you ever experienced them as a candidate or interviewer? Let us know in the comments below and stand-by for the next 2 techniques!

By Carol Johnson 11 Aug, 2017

There is no doubt that interviews are absolutely integral to the recruitment process, however a badly organised interview process or inferior techniques can put off the best candidates from accepting positions, or lead to a poor decision being made, and the wrong candidate hired.

Johnson Underwood have come across many terrible interview techniques over the years and we’ve put our 10 favourites into a list. Remember, these are our favourite bad techniques, we do not condone using these!

We’re releasing our top 10 over the whole month so without further ado, here are numbers 5 and 6.

1.     Plants/spies

Similarly, to asking trick questions, this can come across as a handy way of finding out information about a candidate that normal questioning doesn’t, but is really quite an underhanded way of treating someone and doesn’t necessarily give a truthful picture of what the candidate is like. Asking a person to behave in a certain way towards, or around, a candidate, or observing the candidate without them knowing, and then judging the candidate on their behaviour could be considered unfair, and unethical, and it completely falls down when it comes to perceptions.

For example:

·        You have a nervous candidate arriving and they speak to the Receptionist who gives them details of what to do if there is a fire, possibly a security ID and will ask the candidate to wait, or direct them where they need to go. This candidate is probably nervous and thinking a lot about the interview, so any sullenness or agitation could probably be put down to nerves but in reality, the Receptionist has had a long, tiring day, mistake the nerves as rudeness and tells the interview panel that they thought the candidate was rude, which in turn affects their decision making.

·        A staff member walks through the waiting area and drops some paperwork on the floor near the candidate, then stoops down to pick it up, judging the candidate for not helping pick the paperwork up and reports back to the panel that the candidate is lazy and not very thoughtful. In reality, the candidate could have medical condition that prevents them standing up or moving quickly, they have not noticed the situation because they are doing some last minute mental preparation for their interview, or maybe they don’t want to come across as interfering, after all, they don’t know how the staff member may react if they start picking up sensitive documents.

·        A candidate arrives at an unmanned reception, signs in and waits for someone to collect them and whilst they are waiting, the interview panel are watching them or recording them to watch later. Any action the candidate takes whilst they are being observed is judged on and goes towards whether they will be considered for the role or not. This includes adjusting their hair or clothes, pushing the pull door or pressing the wrong buttons a few times and without them even knowing, they are unfairly being judged as vain or incapable of simple tasks which is in no way demonstrative of their actual ability to do a role.

I’m sure by now, you can see what I mean by how subjective and dangerous this technique is. If the interview panel have asked a staff member to judge the candidate’s behaviour and they take offence to anything the candidate says or does, they could be jeopardising the image that candidate has worked hard to present to the interview panel. Staff may be trained to interact with customers but they are not necessarily trained to interview and assess candidate’s personalities based on how many times the candidate says thank-you or asks to use the facilities and it puts the candidate at a disadvantage they are not aware of, sometimes before their interview has even begun!

2.     Acting like an evil overlord

A popular technique in interviewing is for an interviewer to assert their power and superiority by asking questions that are designed to make the candidate feel small, powerless and more nervous than before. A good interviewer wants their candidates to feel like their experience is important and that they are treated well by their potential employers, a bad interviewer will do what they can to demean their candidates and make them grovel for the job.

For example:

·        Tell me why you think you are better than anyone else we’ve interviewed?

For starters, the candidate is not going to have any idea what makes them better than the other candidates because they do not know them, so the only possible outcome from this question is that the candidate should try and reiterate every single point they’ve already made on their CV and in the interview, hoping at least one of them won’t have been mentioned by any of the other candidates. This does not seem like a productive use of interviewing time when all of that information is already available to the interviewer and only seems to serve the enjoyment of the person who asked it, as they watch each candidate squirm.

·        What would your last boss say about you?

A candidates last boss could have been a racist, misogynist or the world’s loveliest person, either way, finding out what past employers think about your candidates is what references are for. If you ask a candidate, they will either feel like they have to lie and say that their boss thought they were wonderful, when in reality they did not get on, or they will talk about how well they worked together and risk being thought of as a liar anyway.

All this technique achieves is ego building and doesn’t really reap the same benefits as asking the candidate to give examples of when they’ve excelled at something, or achieved an award or recognition for their work or relationships with colleagues.

What do you think about these techniques, have you ever experienced them as a candidate or interviewer? Let us know in the comments below and stand-by for the next 2 techniques!

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