10 Common Interviewing Mistakes

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Employee hiring is much more critical in a small business than in a large business simply because you don’t have the budget to carry “dead” weight.  Every employee you add is expensive, and hiring a bad employee can seriously affect the financial success of a small business.


My experience is that most small business owners hire too hastily and make many of the following common interview mistakes:

  1. Talking too much.  Don’t spend most of your time talking about the position and your company.  As proud as you are of your company, the purpose of the interview is to learn about the applicant.
  2. Not preparing.  Think about what type of person you need for the job and what skills they should have before the interview.  I know you are busy putting out fires, but this is too important to just wing it.
  3. Asking questions on the fly.  Prepare in advance a list of the key questions you want answered.  Don’t be afraid to ask follow-up questions.
  4. Not knowing what you can legally ask.  Check out this article about 30 questions you can’t legally ask and how to get the information without breaking the law:  (www.hrworld.com/features/30-interview-questions-111507).
  5. Not letting the applicant know about all parts of the job.  Tell them the good and the bad.
  6. Don’t oversell the position.  The purpose of the first interview is to narrow down the number of candidates to your top two or three.  Then you can sell your finalist on the job.
  7. Letting your personal bias affect your decision.  I’m a big Red Sox fan, but that should have no bearing on who I hire.  You should always hire the best person for the job.  (I have to confess, a Yankees fan would have to be a superstar for me to hire them.)
  8. Don’t be rude.  Treat the applicant how you would like to be treated.
  9. Not making your top candidates feel wanted.  Don’t commit at the first interview.  But do let them know that they have skills and experience that would be very useful to you, and that you will be strongly considering them for a follow-up interview.
  10. Making quick decisions.  Small business owners are notorious for making quick, gut-based decisions.  It’s almost a survival skill for them.  It just doesn’t work for hiring.  You should be open-minded and friendly during the interview, and wait until it’s over to write down your thoughts.