The Biggest Mistakes Candidates and Employers Make During the Interview Process

We are happy to report that September has been very active with lots of new job opportunities and interviews.  With so much activity, it seems the perfect time to share some avoidable mistakes made by both interviewees and interviewers:

Candidate Mistakes

Be Prepared and Specific! 

Why this job and why this Firm? These are questions that almost every interviewer asks and candidates need to be prepared to answer them well.  When I hear feedback from interviewers like “she didn’t do her homework and didn’t know much about our Firm” or “He did not give me a compelling reason why this would be the right position for him,”‘ I know that the candidate didn’t prepare well for the interview.  Failing to prepare will most certainly affect that candidate’s ability to get that position.  It also demonstrates to the interviewer that you may not be prepared on the job. So don’t forget to do your homework!

Know your salary range!

Candidates who can’t back up why they want the salary they are asking for can be a real problem.

More often than not, an HR person will ask the candidate about their salary expectations. This happened recently and the candidate did not have a confident and thoughtful response. The HR professional concluded that this candidate would have a hard time having “difficult” conversations with employees.  Since the candidate was interviewing for an employee relations type role, the Firm ended up passing on a candidate they would otherwise have hired.

Follow up and say thank you!

No one is too busy to send (or receive) a well-written thank you note (or email) post interview.  I have heard many interviewers say “I really liked her, but was surprised that she didn’t send a thank you note.”  Not only is it “the right thing to do,” it shows you appreciate their time and that you are serious about the position.  So we advise all candidates to send thank you notes after every interview!

Interviewer Mistakes

Let the candidate speak!

The biggest mistake I hear when debriefing candidates after interviews is “the interviewer did the majority of speaking and barely asked me any questions.”  I hear this very often and it creates a number of issues:

  1. The employer missed the opportunity to learn if the candidate has the skills and experience needed to be successful in the role; and
  2. Candidates are often turned off when an interviewer does not engage them and does all the talking.

Know the position you are hiring for!

The second biggest mistake we hear is that the interviewer did not read the job description and was not familiar with what qualifications were needed. This is especially true when multiple people at a Firm are participating in the process.  Partners need to be briefed on what position the Firm is trying to fill if they are going to be part of the decision making process.  HR professionals should spend a few minutes with their Partner, explaining what they should be looking for when interviewing candidates and maybe suggest a few sample questions.

Feedback please!

Some Firms will take the time to interview a candidate, but don’t make the time to provide valuable feedback or update them on the process.

I can recall a time when a Firm had a candidate back for three rounds and NEVER responded with a decision, even after the candidate followed up several times. It is important that the employer treat the interviewee with respect and close the loop on the interview process so that the interviewee isn’t “left hanging.”

Avoid these pitfalls so you don’t miss out on your dream job or ideal candidate! A little extra preparation and effort can go a long way in both landing jobs and attracting top talent.

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