Mistakes in the hiring interview

Personalwirtschaft - Magazine for Human Resources, Nr. 2 - 2012

Ulrich Jordan, former Chief Human Resources Officer for Citibank Germany, has conducted more than 5.000 hiring interviews in his career. In this article he describes the most common mistakes.


The Halo effect

Having worked for a market leader like Coca Cola or Nestle does not necessarily make one the ideal candidate for an opening in another organization. She may be the perfect fit but she may also have benefitted from the excellent processes and recipes for success that these first class companies have been using for many years. We have to ask the right questions to explore what exactly her contributions were and what results she has achieved in her different roles.


Managers and HR experts often have a tendency to hire candidates with the same set of abilities, skills and behaviors that they themselves possess. This "self-cloning" can lead to an uniformity in the employee population that creates crucial deficits. In order to avoid this, it is important for every hiring manager to know exactly which their biases are. Peter F. Drucker called it the need to "know yourself". What are the behaviors, body language and key words that enthuse us or turn us off in a candidate? It is important for us to raise these subconscious intuitions to a conscious level.

Taking the candidate's answers at face value

The majority of candidates is well prepared in the hiring interview. They may have read one of the many books on "how to successfully find a job". They may have visited a blog that specifically addresses the hiring method of the company they want to join. And their purpose is clear – they want to impress the interviewer. Sometimes by claiming success that may not have entirely been their own. Sometimes even by not telling the truth. It is the job of the hiring manager to ask such specific questions and continue to probe until they get a clear picture of the candidate's strengths and development needs.

Correcting the job profile

We have liked our candidate so much that we are willing to give up one or two "must have" elements of our job profile.This is the moment of truth. Just because the job has been open for some time and some work is not getting done, we should not compromise. That is why it is important that we put the job profile in writing so we have a compass that leads us through the entire hiring process.

The higher the better

The quality of the hiring decision does not necessarily increase, the higher you get in an organization. The belief to get it right, however, often does. If the managers at the top make hiring decisions based on their "gut feelings", they need some competent HR expert to support them.

© Redaktion Personalwirtschaft, Wolters Kluwer Deutschland GmbH