Sign up now

Contributed by
Mandy Hamerla
Mandy is the founder of HR Refresh, a popular resource for entrepreneurs and business owners that want modern HR support in a flexible, affordable & convenient way. Mandy specialises in helping entrepreneurs to hire their first employee and then become brilliant at managing people (and avoiding costly mistakes).
She also offers a done-for-you HR service, for busy people that want to outsource HR.
orange line

Everybody wants to hire the best people, so it can be worth spending time on creating a compelling job advert or working with the right recruitment agencies to attract quality people to apply for your role.
However, once you’ve managed to get a short-list of candidates, the ultimate decision of who you hire is down to you!
Your interviewing skills and technique are critical in ensuring you make the right decision!

Get it right, and it can be game-changing for your business.

Get it wrong, and you’re facing lost productivity, and ultimately the cost of replacing the individual, not to mention all the time and energy you spend worrying about what to do. So, for that reason, I wanted to share the 3 most common mistakes I see business owners make, plus my top tips on how to avoid them.

1. Asking interview questions with no purpose

Many interviewers waste theirs and their candidate’s time asking poorly thought out questions.
Some even google a list of generic questions and ask those!
So, to increase your chances of hiring the right person, it’s worth investing time to plan your questions in advance, for each candidate you interview.

Think carefully about the knowledge, skills, expertise and character traits you need for the role, and develop your questions around these.

Also, make sure you ask questions to see if they can thrive in your working environment and team. Cultural fit is just as important as the skills they have. 

My top tip: Go back to your job description and highlight 3 things that the person needs to do brilliantly for it to be game-changing for your business.
This could be Facebook ads for a marketing person; tech recruitment for an HR person or Mailchimp campaigns for a PA. Then make sure each question has a purpose and enables you to gather evidence to prove they have this skill-set and the right attitude to match or not.

2. Too much talking, not enough listening

Sometimes nerves can take over and you can end up talking just for the sake of it. I’ve even seen some people talk more than the candidate does.
By listening actively you’ll be able to pick out the bits of your candidate’s answer that you want to know more about, or where you want clarity, or where some examples would be useful if they aren’t being specific.

This isn’t about trying to catch the candidate out, far from it. It’s about helping your candidate to give their best, and it’s about making sure you have all the information you need to make the best recruitment decisions.

 My top tip: At the beginning of the interview, rather than spending time explaining the company and role, put the onus on them and ask them questions like ‘what do you know about our company’ and ‘what’s your understanding of the role’ to see how much they want to work for you vs. just getting any job. This will help you start as you mean to go on.  

3. Over-selling the role

There is a common temptation to enthusiastically portray their company in the most positive light.
But the worst thing you can do is over-promise and under deliver.

Obviously, you want to sell what your company has to offer, but it’s a careful balancing act. There is nothing worse than a candidate starting a new job with sky high expectations and finding that the reality of the scope of the role, and opportunities for progression, falls a bit short.

My top tip: Before the interview, think about what’s the potential negative aspects to the company / job. Perhaps the location is difficult to get to, or perhaps they will be working on their own for the majority of the time. Ask questions that test how they will cope with this, such as ‘describe a working environment that you haven’t enjoyed’. You don’t need to promote the bad bits, but don’t try to hide them either.

Now, you can feel more confident and empowered to make better hiring decisions. I hope these tips help you to develop the interview style the works for you and your company.

– Mandy