Interviewing is not as easy as it seems and a lot of interviewers get it wrong. Getting it wrong can mean that you end up hiring the wrong person or discourage potential good candidates.
There are 2 extremes that I’m sure you’ll recognise.
- The robot is someone who doesn’t interview often and isn’t very confident about interviewing
- The robot will stick to a script (usually written by their HR team) and will never deviate from the script (makes them feel in control)
- The robot listen, takes notes (every single word of the candidate’s answer) and moves on to the next question
- The robot doesn’t probe or challenge
- The robot does not show any feelings
Candidates who meet a robot will be unsure about their performance, see the interview as boring and can get the impression that the interviewer wasn’t really listening to them… Not good.
- The cowboy likes interviewing as it makes them feel powerful
- The cowboy doesn’t need to prepare, he/she improvises (even if HR has given them a script) and likes questions that will destabilise the candidate
- The cowboy interrupts, challenges and contradicts (playing good cop bad cop with the other interviewer is a personal favourite)
- The cowboy doesn’t take notes or will just write an overall (sometime irrelevant) comment about the candidate’s performance
- The cowboy will always shows their feelings, especially negative ones
Candidates who meet a cowboy will feel like s*** after their interview, they will expect a rejection and will probably decline the job if offered… Not good either.
I’ve sat in many interviews and seen both robots and cowboys in action. The only positive thing about it is that it gives candidates a good idea of who their manager will be and allow them to decide if they can see themselves in the role, working with the person who interviewed them.
The ideal interviewer is a combination of both… Someone who will prepare and ask all candidates the same questions (by same I don’t mean using the exact same words) but also listens and is able to probe and challenge if a candidate doesn’t answer the question, someone who will be able to justify their decision in writing (thanks to straight forward and objective notes), and someone who makes the candidate feel respected (not just a number of someone not worthy of a job).
For more tips on what not to ask in an interview, read this article from Liz Ryan: 5 questions that make job interviewers look dumb
So, please don’t be a robot or a cowboy when you next interview and remember that you were once (and will undoubtedly be again) a candidate too.
The Job Matchmaker