How to Scare Away a Good Job Candidate

Countless tips and how-tos exist online to help job candidates shine in an interview.  However, very limited help tips for guiding the hiring manager can be found. As a manager, it is assumed that you already know what you’re doing.  After all, you sift through the résumés and narrow down the choices to a top ten.  Later, you choose the best five from your top ten list. Then, you schedule face-to-face meetings where you question, prod, poke, and analyze the candidate. You want to hire the best possible candidate but, inadvertently hire an incompetent, unmotivated employee.

Consequently, good candidates know they have other options.  They analyze and dismiss you if you don’t pass their criteria. Therefore, an interview is a two-way proposition.  Many Human Resources (HR) professionals and managers could use a few tips to help themselves in the hiring process.

4 Hiring Mistakes

I’ve compiled a list of the top hiring mistakes.  These choices could lead good job candidates to wonder whether they really want to work for you:

  1. Long wait in the lobby. You set the interview for 10 a.m. At 10:30, the candidate rechecks with the receptionist, only to hear that you will be with him shortly. A late interview causes the candidate to sense that his or her interview is not important to you. Timeliness matters on both ends.
  2. No icebreaker. You need to spend a little time with the interviewee before they face a hiring committee.  At this point, the candidate sees the committee as a panel of eager jurors. Offer coffee or a cold bottle of water, then strike up an informal, let-it-flow, friendly, 15-minute chat. Then the candidate will enter the interrogation room more confidently and give a better interview.
  3. Jargon, acronyms, and convoluted monologues. Every workplace has its secret society language spoken in a tongue native and recognizable only to the insiders. Avoid weird abbreviations, nonsensical acronyms and pet names for meeting rooms, job titles or processes. Long-winded discourse on the individuality of your tack-sharp, second-to-none workforce sounds industry-leading to you. However, it leaves the candidate feeling like an outsider who may have trouble fitting in.
  4. Off-the-shelf questions. Research websites offering “must ask” interview questions and companion answers, but don’t use them verbatim. Customize a few to suit the needs of the open job and ad-lib a bit.  A hiring manager reading scripted questions appears stiff, intimidated, and frightened.  It’s a sign to the candidate that this is not the type of leader for which he or she wants to work.

A Good Job Candidate System

Most organizations don’t recognize the importance of hiring top-notch employees.  Consider this: You hire an employee who is better than half of your existing staff.  Your organization just improved. The opposite occurs when you hire poorly.  Too many organizations repeatedly hire people in the bottom 50% as soon as they walk in the door.

If you have lots of “C players” on staff, it means your system is designed to hire C players. Look for the best candidates possible.  In the long run, they are well worth the improvement to your company.