When I first had the task of interviewing potential recruits to join our team, I’d had very little experience of how such interviews should be conducted. As time passed, and my exposure to the interview process deepened, I learned a few of the pitfalls that can eventually result in poor hiring decisions. Here are a few to avoid when you are preparing for, and conducting, such interviews…

Appreciate That It’s Not A Sales Situation!

This was one hole I regularly fell into! We understand what needs to be accomplished during a sales interview, and the steps and processes to follow to take an individual from being a prospect to an insured customer. It’s almost a natural action to use the same tactics for a recruitment interview.

However, with such interviews, there are three potential outcomes! It may be that the person simply isn’t right for the role; that they don’t want to accept any offer; or that they are a prime candidate to join the team. The danger is in ‘selling’ always towards that last outcome, by failing to appreciate that either of the first two possibilities might be the best outcome, both for the candidate and our business.

Failing To Present A Balanced Picture

Tied to the previous point is a natural sales desire to ‘talk up the product’ – in this case, a role within your team. You highlight the benefits, aim to overcome the drawbacks, ease any doubts, and persuade the potential colleague to join you.


Yet, there may be a range of genuine factors, not necessarily all job-related, such as their own personal circumstances, which will give them genuine pause for thought. It’s important that any individual understands exactly what the job would require of them – not just what a great company yours is to work for!

Asking Leading Questions

Again, this is a valid course of action as part of a sales call. Yet, during a recruitment interview, such questions can lead a candidate to agree with you, or simply supply the answers they think you wish to hear. This hampers your attempt to assess their experience, skills and capabilities. Asking open questions, encouraging them to provide information and examples, helps you build a much better picture of their rightness (or not) for the position you are wishing to fill.

Actually Listening To Complete Answers

Again, in insurance sales, the aim can be to pick out the part of any answer that helps you take the sales process forward. You might then pounce on that and try to move onwards. In recruitment, you are listening to the complete answer, perhaps using silence or a follow-up question to find out more detail. Your aim is to create a complete picture of the candidate and their fit for the available position.

Two Final And Often-Made Mistakes

When considering which of a raft of candidates to offer a position to, an easy error to make is to choose the individual most like yourself. This is called ‘mirror interviewing’ – a desire to see reflected back your own best qualities. Remember that a team is a sum of different parts – not just a bunch of clones of yourself!

Finally, never take ‘the best of a bad bunch’. It can be tempting, if you are short-handed, to bring on board someone who might ‘just be okay’. The costs of poor recruitment decisions tend always to be higher than taking slightly longer to find the right person.

And that’s a distillation of some key points I’ve learned through my years of interviewing. I hope they are of value to you.

If you need any more help with what you should or shouldn’t do during a job interview, please contact us today.