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3 common mistakes when interviewing candidates

Hiring new people for your team or company is one of the key leadership tasks that frequently get underestimated. We usually spend a lot of time with our colleagues, bosses or teammates, sometimes even more than with our friends and family (at least in times before Corona) – so apart from the professional qualifications, you should equally focus on cultural fit and a match of drive and personality.

Although a lot of leaders frequently sit in job interviews and hire candidates, we know that interview skills are a constant practice, rather than something you learn once and then stick to – which means you need to frequently reflect on your way of asking questions. We often observe three common mistakes that interviewers fall prey to:

No. 1: Focus on the CV

Yes, it is important for you to hear from the candidate about their most important job experiences and skills they have acquired in their professional career. Yet, a lot of interviewers forget to mention that it is not the goal for the candidate to just repeat the content of their CV, but rather to tell you what they learnt about themselves, what made them grow, and why they took certain decisions. That way, you learn a lot more about what drives the candidate, how he or she deals with challenges, and what he or she might be looking for in the future.

No. 2: Evaluate the skills

Again: the person you are interviewing should bring the most important (formal) qualifications and skills to do the job you are recruiting for. What most interviewers forget though is that you do not only need a match between the skills required for the job and what the candidate brings, but also between what the candidate is looking for and the personal growth you can offer. This aspect of getting to know each other is usually not being put enough emphasis on. The people you want to hire come to work to grow, to learn, to evolve as a person. Make sure you truly understand what that means for the candidate, and if the role you are looking to fill is a good fit.

No. 3: Talk about your company 

Giving the candidate insights into your company, what kind of strategy you are following, how your business model is changing is surely a good start – especially if you are being truthful, talking about both the upsides and the challenges. Yet, the conversation becomes more insightful if you begin with a question to the candidate: “What is your first impression about our company from the website or your contact with us so far?” “What is it that you do not yet understand, or where do you see challenges?” An outside perspective on your work is always valuable, even (sometimes especially) if it is a first impression. In doing so, you are treating the candidate as an equal, being honestly interested in his or her opinion. Finally, you receive valuable information about the candidate: Does he or she dare to think for himself/herself? Has he or she the courage to question existing habits? Is he or she curious about the business, or does he or she only tell you what you want to hear? Especially for leadership positions, people who think for themselves are the candidates to look out for.

We wish you much fun and interesting conversations in your next job interview! See you next week in our companion channel.

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