Hiring Managers - Stop these bad interview manners & behaviours

Stop Hand

In my last blog I discussed the behaviours that candidates must stop doing to achieve better interview outcomes.  Now it’s time to turn the page and address the unprofessional behaviours that interviewers must stop – Recruiters, HR, Hiring Managers.  As previously outlined there is an absolute 50/50 split in culpability of poor behaviours and manners across both interviewees’ and interviewers’.

All interviewers' must fully understand that every candidate that sits in front of them is a potential company brand ambassador.  

Any unpleasantness that a candidate experiences will, and can be amplified in market (just check out Glassdoor and other feedback and social media forums).It’s not just the brand as a ‘company/recruiter of choice’  at stake but also the overarching PR and marketing sentiments of the products and services at play also.

Respecting candidates is at the very core and you must  ask yourself :     Would I treat a client that way ? 

If the answer is NO, then  DONT treat a candidate that way.   So let’s get cracking to stop the following behaviours and bad manners so you as an interviewer will gain the best possible outcome from the interview.  Your candidate will feel more at ease and relaxed which allows you to assess them more accurately and efficiently.

Front Desk Welcome

The person who greets a candidate must welcome candidates as warmly and as professionally as they would a client.  Far too often candidates are treated as an interruption and opinions start to form – negatively or positively about your organisation.  A good  tip is  to have the person on the front desk engage in a little chit chat too.    Often such informal chats  elicit  really insightful and valuable information that can be shared later with the interviewer. 


Sure things in a day can go awry and delays occur with timetables turned upside down.  But if there is to be long delays, phone the candidate and forewarn them - be respectful of their time.    Things happen and when they do, you  must apologise profusely and or rectify.  And  prior meetings/ interviews do often go 5-10 mins overtime,  but 80% of the time lack of punctuality comes down to an attitude that  "a candidate ‘can just wait".    It’s a  choice that is made or a bias that is hardwired (ie  candidates are 2nd class or servants) .  I have heard of applicants waiting up to 45 mins in a reception area and wondered why they didn’t just walk out.   Frankly if you are much more than 10 minutes late you are disrespectful and/or disorganised.  Neither of which bodes well.


Now this may sound old fashioned or irrelevant but it is really quite logical. When an important (which an interview is) meeting  is taking place people can get  nervous and very thirsty.    So have a jug of water and glasses (plastic is fine to save mess) on the table.   It also helps build a ‘relaxing environment’ which is what you want to bring out the best from a candidate.  And definitely  for more senior roles offering a coffee/tea is a must.    You would definitely do that for a client so why not for a senior candidate/role?    Doing a little bit extra counts!

Build Rapport

Just gushing straight into ‘interview questions’ is quite rude and silly.  The person in front of you is a human being who (hopefully) is very excited to be meeting to discuss the job.  They are not robots and just in any meeting situation there needs to be at least a few  minutes spent in small talk and genuine rapport building to break the ice.    

Tip –try giving the candidate a genuine compliment and observe how differently the energy of the interview changes.

Upfront, at  the least  really thank them for coming in and make them feel welcome and valued.  Another tip is commenting that you appreciate how nerve wracking interviews can be but that you will try and make it as painless as possible.   Humour works a treat and puts everyone more at ease.  And again, the way a  candidate engages and responds to humour will  show you  more about them than other methods/questions questions could ever elicit.

Not Reading CV’s/ Researching

This is a shocker and interviewers who haven't thoroughly read a CV prior to the interview is far too prevalent.   Reading a CV from front to back when you should be engaging in conversation with the candidate is a total waste of everyone’s time.   It’s also disrespectful and indicates a disconnect of preparation (which you would expect from the candidate).  The excuse of  ‘didn’t have time to read it’  doesn’t cut it.   Make the time, do the research and highlight the key areas on the CV you wish to discuss. I found it really useful to read a CV 2-3 times and go over it with 2 different colored highlighters to be able to easily draw down further information.    

Inane & Badgering Questions

Humanising interview questions is a long topic and will be addressed in depth  in future blogs.  But most inane questions spring from lack of preparation,  experience and research. Interviewing is a trained skill and the in-experienced are like a lost ship at sea drowning.   But mostly ridiculous questions are borne from laziness and lack of respect and robotic textbook question lists that no one has bothered to revise and humanise.

If a CV hasn’t been fully read and comprehended prior to the interview, a raft of inane questions will be flung – eg ‘tell me where you are working now?’ - Or ‘what role are you doing now?’   Anything that is on the CV in broad black and white doesn’t need to be parrot phrased back in a question.  It shows a lack of intelligence, respect and preparation.  

There is no need to badger candidates and heave out demanding and robotic  questions.  Ask yourself how you would feel with that sort of question being asked of you before you ask it.   Questions phrased with respect and thought will gain so much more insight into the candidate’s strengths.  It's not just the question but the phrasing that will change the response and outcome.

Tip: All interviews for senior roles  must be conducted with a highly experienced interviewer.   Do not try out a junior HR person or new recruiter with a senior candidate – it will be a disaster.  The interviewer ‘won’t get it’ and the candidate will walk away feeling disengaged and disrespected.  Remember people don’t know what they don’t know and it will leave a very sour taste in a senior candidate to be interviewed by an inexperienced junior.

Train, train and train  interviewing skills as ‘the right questions get the right answers’

Ending the Interview

It really does sounds pretty cruel to end with a cut-down phrase such as ‘we have many more people to see’  or  ‘we are just at the start of the process and will be in touch’ etc.    It just sends a thump of despair (even if people don’t admit it). It’s not just what is said, but how it is said. I once had a really lovely and charming client who was so respectful to all candidates that they all believed they had the job when they walked out the door.   So whilst false hope is never advisable there is a more humanised way of ending interviews.  Try  ‘it was great to meet you and after we finish the interview process next week we will be in touch’. OR   ‘I’m sure you will be keen to know the outcome of today and I would love to be able to do that, but I need to wait till the end of the process next month’.  You get the drift.   

Don’t kill someone’s heart, don’t give false hope and yet still give a fair follow-up and feedback timeline.