Two Reasons Interviewing Fails So Often

Do you have other people in your organization interview candidates that will end up working directly for you? Just about everyone answers “Yes” to this question. The follow up question to that is, “Have you ever sat in the interviews with these co-workers and assessed whether or not they are competent interviewers?” I don't mean co-interviewed with them. I mean assessed their interviewing abilities. Most answer “No” to this question.

You are relying on their opinion for someone that will play a role in your success, and many don't even know if they conducted  a competent interview.

Two reasons interviewing fails:

1) Incompetent people interviewing. This is by no means a knock on those people. The fact is, some people are naturally good interviewers, just like some people are a natural at music, sports, or math. However, most are not good interviewers, just like most are not good at music, sports, or math.

Interviewing is a skill that needs to be developed. Since very few people ever actually receive any training on how to properly interview, most just aren't good at it. We do a lot of interviewing training and most taking the course have either had no training or it was one short class years ago.  How can anyone expect these people to be competent at interviewing? Skills need to be practiced or at least kept up to date to be effective.

The one major flaw we have discovered that most poor interviewers make is not probing deeply into what the candidates tell them. The interviewer tends to just accept or reject what they are told. Few really probe for facts, time, data, outcomes, challenges, team issues, names, etc. They may ask one or two follow up questions, but most of the time these are pretty superficial. Teaching interviewers how to probe deeply is the biggest challenge we face in our workshops. Not that the person doesn't want to probe, they just don't know how or they are uncomfortable asking these level of questions.

2) Vague questions equal vague hires. This is often because those in the second or third round of interviews really don't understand the position. They interview every candidate much the same way regardless of position. It is the one size fits all interview syndrome.

Since most don't know the job, they ask vague, generic questions. The problem with this is that once the person comes on board the job expectations by the hiring authority are rarely vague and generic. At least in the hiring manager's mind, which often is completely different than the candidate's mind.

I have asked hundreds of hiring managers if they review in detail the job spec with the co-workers interviewing the candidates. Less than 10% say yes. So that means the other people interviewing just assume what is important, what specific issues need to be probed, and what questions they should ask to determine if the person is qualified for a job, they themselves don't even understand. Is it any wonder interviewing fails?

Interviewing doesn't have to be all that complicated. It doesn't have to be so sophisticated that a person needs to go through extensive training every time they need to interview. In fact, interviewing should be simple, thorough, and easy for everyone to understand.

If we told you that you and everyone else in your company that interviews could conduct simple, thorough, and probing interviews with just five core questions and six simple follow up words would you believe us? Well, it is true. Good interviewers can get about 80% of the information they need to decide whether or not the person can do the job with just these. If they can't pass these  five core questions, then all of the other questions may be irrelevant, so why ask them? For the five core questions CLICK HERE.

Once the interviewer has asked these five questions, then probing is required to fully understand the candidate's specific role. You can do a very deep probe with just six simple words. That is it, six words. For details of these CLICK HERE.

We preach, teach, and train in our workshops to make interviewing simpler and have competent people doing the interviewing. Incompetent interviewers asking a bunch of different questions, with no real objective, or worse yet, the interviewers having different objectives leads to a bad hires.

When this happens the company ends up hiring the good or great interviewee, rather than a good or great employee.

For more information on conducting in-depth, probing interviews using the five core questions, see our book “You're NOT The Person I Hired.” CLICK HERE to learn more.

Consider joining our How to Hire and Retain Top Talent LinkedIn group. It is free and provides a lot of resources for  hiring managers and companies. CLICK HERE to join.

Finally, our audio library is available for free downloads. This library contains over 20 audio recordings to help you attract,  hire and retain top talent. All these audio files are free. CLICK HERE to review the library.

I welcome your thoughts and comments.

Brad Remillard


About the Author

Brad Remillard is a founding Partner of IMPACT Hiring Solutions, co-author of "You're NOT the Person I Hired", and "This is NOT the Position I Accepted". Brad is an award-winning international speaker, retained executive recruiter, and expert on hiring and retaining top talent, and executive job search.


  1. Is there a way to keep track of blogs like this one?

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