Hiring Managers: 6 Symptoms of Poor Interviewing Syndrome

Bad hires cost your company a truck load of money!  According to a recent Careerbuilder study, 41% of surveyed companies indicated that bad hires cost their organization more than $25K while an additional 24% claimed bad hires cost them more than $50K.  This is a serious issue especially if you are the hiring manager responsible for these poor hiring decisions.

Now there are many reasons why bad hires occur.  The hiring manager might have poor interviewing skills, the hiring decision might be rushed, background and reference checks could have been overlooked, or perhaps the hiring company just has a poor image and can’t source top talent as a result.  For the purposes of this post I would like to focus on one of the main culprits of bad hires and that is poor interviewing skills.

Tony Hsieh

Tony Hsieh

Poor Interviewing Syndrome as I like to call it, or P.I.S. for short, afflicts thousands of U.S. hiring managers annually and costs organizations millions in organizational costs.  Tony Hsieh, President of Zappos, believes that hiring mistakes have cost Zappos over $100 million since the company’s inception.  Recognizing the symptoms of Poor Interviewing Syndrome can help you combat this affliction and get you back to better hiring.

Below are six symptoms of Poor Interviewing Syndrome:

Symptom #1 – Believing you are the Mike Wallace of candidate interviewing:  Most all interviewers, even the ones who haphazardly wing the interview, feel they are great.  Repeating in each interview, “What are your greatest strengths/weaknesses?” doesn’t make you Morley Safer.  If your employees are failing to adequately perform their duties or are not interacting well with others (the two most cited reasons for employee failure) you are failing as an interviewer.  You must first acknowledge your condition before you can begin to treat its symptoms.

Symptom #2 – Deciding too quickly: Within five minutes of meeting a candidate, sufferers of P.I.S. often decide whether the candidate is a good fit for their organization.  Too frequently this decision is based on the hiring manager’s subconscious or not so subconscious biases for or against the candidate.  Researchers from HarvardBusinessSchool found that the greatest sufferers are those who allowed their insecurities or unconscious biases to propel the process, which can have a worse effect on hiring decisions than if a candidate were chosen randomly.

Additionally, hiring managers who make final decisions early in the interview are often disengaged or act bored for the remaining portion.  This prevents them from gaining further valuable insight into the candidate’s true personality and reflects poorly on the company.

Symptom #3 – Inconsistency: “Winging” it as mentioned above often leads to inconsistent interviews.    P.I.S. sufferers need a game plan of what they want to achieve in the interview and a list of questions that all candidates must answer.  Structured interviews are cited as being an optimum method to reduce bias and discrimination in the interview process.

Symptom #4 – Not listening enough:   According to Manny Avradmidis, Head of Global Human Resources at the American Management Association, the candidate should get 80% of the air time.  Poor interviewers tend to speak more and listen less.

Symptom #5 – Asking silly questions: “Why are manhole covers round?”  Have you ever heard of this question being asked?  How about “how many golf balls can fit in a school bus?”  Severe sufferers of Poor Interviewing Syndrome often feel clever by offering up ridiculous questions to job candidates.  These questions are off putting to the talent they are trying to hire and have no significant bearing on the candidate’s ability to perform their duties.  By the way, these questions were once asked by Microsoft and Google respectively.  No one is safe from P.I.S. it would seem.

Symptom #6 – Not knowing the law: Similar to asking silly questions, P.I.S. sufferers also ask inappropriate questions that can expose the company to discrimination lawsuits.  For instance asking a woman if she plans to have children in the immediate future could imply you might not want to employ a pregnant woman for fear she will take maternity leave.  Though the question might seem more harmless than say asking what a candidate’s religious beliefs are, it is no less damaging.  Non-sufferers are actively aware of what is and is not appropriate.

To prevent P.I.S. from spreading through your company all those involved in the hiring process must be diligent in not only recognizing the symptoms within themselves but also in those around them.  Failure to do so could cost your organization thousands!

About Ryder Cullison

Ryder has more than 10 years of experience working with retained search clients as a search professional. As a pioneer of Interview4 he has great knowledge of video interviewing. He writes about all things hiring and looks forward to engaging with his audience on topics of leadership, recruiting, candidate screening, and employee satisfaction. Follow him on Twitter: @hireintelligent and @cullison1
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