1/30/2015 | Chuck Leddy

Effective hiring practices are hugely important for any middle market company. You want to attract talent, but hiring someone who is the wrong fit is an expensive mistake that will cost you in productivity, result in a disrupted company climate and force you to go through the hiring process again. Proactively approaching hiring practices, especially when it comes to job interviews, is therefore critical.

Hiring Practices to Avoid: 7 Deadly Sins of Interviewing Candidates

Here are seven mistakes to avoid when interviewing job candidates for your midmarket business:

  1. Failing to form a clear idea of the necessary skills and qualifications. Have a thorough discussion with HR and the person who will be the new hire's direct manager about what success in the open position should entail, including skill set and personality type. This thinking will guide you through the whole process, as you can't find something if you don't have a good idea of what you're looking for.
  2. Lacking a standard set of questions that test potential fit. A good interviewer explores specific job areas to get a clear idea of how the candidate would manage problems and work with coworkers. If the candidate gives a canned, prepackaged answer, the interviewer should dig deeper. Sometimes the most powerful question is simply, "Can you tell me more about why (or how) you did that?" It forces the candidate away from his or her prepared answer.
  3. Forgetting to ask situational questions. These reveal how a candidate acted in a past tricky situation and predict how he or she will act in similar future circumstances. An interviewee's answer should expose how he or she analyzes a situation, develops a solution and executes it. Be sure to draw out a detailed answer to get an idea of the candidate's thinking and working processes.
  4. Allowing bias to cloud your judgment. Everyone develops strong first impressions of people. Sometimes our impressions are right, but just as often, they aren't. Some candidates look great on paper or are very likable in person, but that doesn't mean they will be the best fit. Knowing exactly what you need for the job and maintaining focus on that is the best way to avoid bias.
  5. Dominating the interview. You are there to assess the candidate, not talk about your career or your company's great results over the last quarter. Many savvy candidates know that getting interviewers to talk about themselves is often the best way to get the job. You should of course answer questions about yourself and the company, but never forget that you are there to learn about the candidate.
  6. Neglecting to sell your company. This might seem contradictory to that last point, but it's not. The interviewer must explain exactly what he or she is looking for from a new hire, both in the relevant position and at the company as a whole. Just as the candidate needs to offer a picture of potential success, you must do the same. Explain how high achievers are rewarded and recognized, and make sure the candidate knows that your midmarket company is a great place to work and grow a career. This message must be transmitted clearly in order to attract talent to the position.
  7. Not collecting enough feedback. It's risky to allow one interviewer's impression to sway the hiring decision. You want to collect and filter a variety of perspectives, and having a group interview or comparing notes after conducting multiple interviews can accomplish this. Even asking the receptionist about how the candidate behaved in the waiting area can give you valuable insights. Collecting additional data from references will allow you to gain a fuller understanding of the candidate, which is what good hiring practices are all about.

When is it appropriate to bring a candidate back for a second interview? Let us know what you think by commenting below.

Boston-based Chuck Leddy is an NCMM contributor and a freelance reporter who contributes regularly to The Boston Globe and Harvard Gazette. He also trains Fortune 500 executives in business-communication skills as an instructor for EF Education. Circle him on Google+.