Where job interviews are concerned, I guess candidates are sort of supposed to feel like the inferior ones who have to win over their superiors aka the interviewers. To some extent that power play is totally fine, given candidates are vying against a number of competitors to bag the role and really have to prove themselves.
The trouble with this is, when a candidate applies for your role, it doesn’t mean you’ve automatically got them if you want them. Oh no, far from it. You’re going to have to prove you’re the best employer to suit their needs, too. If you can’t? They’ll go elsewhere. I’m privy to so many cases of candidates going to an interview hoping to come out wowed and convinced it’s the role of their dreams, only to walk out feeling completely underwhelmed and uninterested. Why does it happen?
I’ve compiled a few points from personal experience & within my wider network to help explain the sudden turn-off:
1. You were really unorganised
The candidate waited in reception for ages with no idea what was going on. You came out 1o minutes past the hour and your first word to them were begging for forgiveness for being late. You failed to properly book a meeting room, so had to sit in an oversized boardroom which you got kicked out of half way through. The whole thing felt like a mess with no structure.
2. You didn’t answer vital questions
Candidates know they should ask questions that show their ambition, interest and capabilities. They know they shouldn’t focus on things like salary, benefits and working hours as it will come across as though they are prioritising the wrong things. Still, you didn’t give the candidate any gauge on these things which are actually HUGE factors that are important to candidates, and let’s face it, every working person out there.
3. You barely looked at their CV beforehand
When you greeted them, you had to quickly pause and look for their name on the CV in your book.
“Hi… Paul, nice to meet you Paul”
You then went on to ask them which university they went to, where they currently work and for how long they’ve been there – all questions which are clearly written in their CV. They’ve lost sleep overnight from excitement and nerves about meeting you, and in return, you made them feel like any old applicant you really know nothing about. Ultimately, you deflated them within minutes of meeting them, which is hard to come back from.
4. You failed to brief them on the point of the interview
Your candidate literally studied so much material for this interview and all you asked them was why they like working in a team and why they want to leave their current role. You didn’t talk about their technical skills or give them a chance to impress you with the knowledge they’ve been fine-tuning for days. You should have told them that the first interview was more of a meet & greet, and the 2nd round is where the grilling happens. They probably still would have prepared the same, but at l;east they wouldn’t have felt it was all a waste of time.
5. You made them repeat themselves too many times
You met the candidate, really liked them and then out of nowhere, decided you wanted them to meet your boss then and there, who then introduced them to another colleague who then handed them back to you. The CEO walked past and you made another introduction, along with the CMO and… you get it. Every time the candidate met a new person, they had to go through the same trimmed version of their career story, over and over again, until they lost track of who they’d told what and who was who. You exhausted them in what felt like a useless panel exercise without structure. Too much too soon.
6. You gave nothing away
Your candidate sat there absolutely sweating bullets trying to answer the questions to the best of their ability, being put on the spot and having to perform for the sake of their whole career. In return, you gave absolutely no indication of whether they’d done a great job or completely bombed out. They came out feeling confused and self-critical; if getting even the smallest smile form you felt like drawing blood from a stone, you probably didn’t paint yourself as a great person to work for, eve if you were simply trying to keep your cards close to your chest.
7. You ran way overtime
They have another job to go back to and you know it. They had to concoct a special story to get them out of the office and make it in time for the interview, and you showed serious disregard for their other responsibilities. they sat their freaking out inside because they knew they needed to leave but didn’t want to ruffle your feathers by ending the interview quickly, for fear of shooting themselves in the foot. You put them in a really hard position and it wasn’t fair.
8. You appear to have no idea about the role
You clearly have budget to hire someone, but you appear to have no idea about the reason you’re hiring them. You really struggled to sell them the role, and seemed unsure about what they would actually be doing. They came out wondering what their responsibilities would be, and why you even bothered to bring them in. Needless to say, their enthusiasm dwindled majorly.
Sure, there are still several other things that could have turned the candidate off. Maybe they didn’t like you personally, or maybe the role actually wasn’t what they thought it was going to be. The point? Instead of hearing someone drop out of the running and saying ‘oh well, their loss, they probably weren’t right anyway” … take a closer look at the part you played in pushing them away.