Skip to main contentA logo with &quat;the muse&quat; in dark blue text.
Advice / Succeeding at Work / Management

4 Ways You Might Be Turning Your Interviewees Off

So you’re looking for the perfect new hire to fill your open position. You complete a round of interviews, make your decision, and offer the star candidate the job—you’re done!

Except—she declines. Worse, you move on to the back-up candidate, and it’s the same story. What gives?

If you’re finding that candidate after candidate isn’t interested in an offer, the old adage, “You’re not just interviewing them, they’re interviewing you,” can begin to haunt you. Sure, finding the best person to give the offer to is a key part of the interviewer job description, but you’ve got to make sure candidates think you and your company are great, too.

So before you hold your next interview, make sure you’re not inadvertently making one of these four common interviewer mistakes.

1. You’re Not Putting Your Best Foot Forward

First impressions matter. So, just like you’d expect any candidate to show up in a suit and polished shoes for the interview, you and your office should put your own best foot forward.

Think about it: How would an interviewee feel waiting around for half an hour because her future boss is late? What would she think if the office is out of coffee, potential colleagues are gossiping around the water cooler, or someone is freaking out by the printer over a missed deadline? Treat interview day like major clients are the office: Everyone should be dressed up, on time, and ready to be friendly and helpful to the unfamiliar face.

2. You Don’t Engage

As an interviewer, you’d be turned off by an applicant who was staring at the ceiling or constantly checking his or her Blackberry, right? Give your interviewees the same respect that you expect from them. Whether you really are waiting for an important email or you’re just trying to come across as a tough interviewer, acting disinterested is just being rude. Plus, the more interest you show, the more your interviewees will share about themselves, and that only helps you.

Prepare for the interview by putting your email and phone on “Do not disturb,” and try to use some “I’m listening” phrases, such as “That’s interesting,” or “Tell me more about that experience.” You’ll be pleasantly surprised by the results.

3. You Hog the Interview

As an interviewer, it’s your job to be a great ambassador for your organization and share the details about the position. Just make sure you’re not mixing up answering an applicant’s questions with answering every question he or she might possibly have. When you’re the one doing all the talking, you’re wasting the opportunity to get to know the candidate. Moreover, he or she may leave thinking, “Why did I spend time preparing for this?” or worse, “Is this what meetings would be like here?”

Try starting the interview by asking candidates to tell you about themselves, which will give them the floor. If you’re asked questions during the interview, answer them briefly, then say that you’ll happily elaborate on them at the end.


4. Your Team Member is a Wild Card

You know who I’m talking about. That team member who everyone grows to love—but whose sarcastic wit, dry sense of humor, or tendency to dominate the conversation can come off a little, well, abrasive.

In an interview setting, this person is a liability. You don’t want to have anyone there who will rub interviewees the wrong way or take the interview off track entirely—so it’s best to leave your wild card co-worker out. If he or she has to be involved, make sure it’s a group interview, and include someone strong (like you!) who can steer the interview in the right direction, make sure key questions are answered, and run damage control if necessary.

Your role as a manager is to get the best people on your team, so having a stellar interview process should be a top priority. By avoiding the mistakes above, you’ll make sure the candidate has a great experience—and wants to come back for more.

Photo of job interview courtesy of Shutterstock.