Top 5 Reasons New Managers Are Terrible at Interviewing

by | Dec 11, 2019

Most expensive hiring mistakes could be avoided if hiring managers were better interviewers.

Sure, the members of the HR team are usually well trained in the art of the interview. But hiring managers are usually the ones with the most influence over who gets hired. And most hiring managers never receive training in how to interview.

Inexperienced hiring managers make assumptions rely too much on gut instinct, miss red flags, and neglect to probe in key areas. They think they know how to interview because they’ve been through the process as job seekers.

Unfortunately, they often model bad interviewers without even realizing it — which can lead to costly errors that could have been easily prevented.

Here are the top 5 mistakes that new managers make when conducting job interviews:

  1. They don’t analyze the job description thoroughly.

Managers should play a key role in loping and updating job descriptions. They should not rely on generic or outdated descriptions when selecting candidates.

Many new managers don’t take the time to sit down with Human Resources and/or members of their team to ensure a thorough, specific, and up-to-date understanding of the experience, skills, and competencies required for the position.

As a result, they often fall back on generic questions that don’t really probe deeply enough into specifics about how the candidate would approach the role. This can lead them to hire candidates that look good on paper and talk a good game, but don’t truly have the needed skills.

  1. They skimp on preparation.

Even when working with a solid job description, many new managers fail to take enough time to prepare for interviews. They don’t lop a list of prioritized questions that delve into the most important qualifications for the job.

Instead, they “wing it” and this often means they fall back on general, cliché questions and often fail to get the information they need to make a smart hiring decision.

  1. They fail to spot red flags.

Because new managers often walk into interviews feeling unprepared, they are too distracted to spot red flags and signs that a candidate is not being completely honest.

Danger signs might show up on resumes (strange gaps, odd patterns, dates that don’t add up), in a candidate’s physical presentation (eye contact, facial expressions, body language), and in responses to interview questions (avoiding questions, answers that don’t ring true, negative attitudes).

In some cases, new managers miss these red flags because they’re so busy focusing on what they’re going to say. In others, they just haven’t been taught what to look out for and how to probe when they see the inconsistency.

  1. They rely on gut feelings.

Most managers rely too much on their instincts. After all, they’re smart people and probably feel they’re pretty good at reading people. This overdependence on intuition can be very dangerous.

It can lead to biased decisions when managers favor those who are most like them (often unconsciously) instead of striving for objectivity. “Going with the gut” can also lead to hiring the best schmoozer instead of the most qualified candidate.

  1. They avoid probing and asking difficult questions.

Some new managers shy away from confrontation or uncomfortable conversations. It’s never fun to ask someone about weaknesses, failures, or gaps between jobs. Many new managers prefer to rush past difficult questions.

They make assumptions or take the candidate’s word instead of probing to verify and/or clarify. As a result, they are more likely to get fooled by a dishonest candidate and can also pass over someone fantastic because of a resume blemish that could have been easily explained.