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Common Interview Mistakes

There are several common interviewing mistakes that undermine an interview’s usefulness. Theseare explained below since knowledge of the mistakes is the first step toward avoiding them:

Lack of Updated Job Description/ Knowledge of Job Duties:Interviewers who don’t preciselyknow what a job entails and what sort of candidate is best suited for it usually make theirdecisions based on incorrect stereotypes about what a good applicant is. Accurate job informationtranslates into better selection interviews. Thus, it becomes especially important to have a clear,defined and updated job description for each position that is being interviewed for.

Snap Judgments: One of the most common interviewing errors is that interviewers tend to jumpto conclusions or make snap judgments about candidates during the first few minutes of theinterview, or even before the interview begins based on test scores or the resume submitted.

Negative emphasis:This involves rejection of a candidate based on a small amount of negativeinformation and is a tendency to focus on information, which will automatically disqualify acandidate, causing the interviewer to overlook her/his strengths. It has been found thatinterviewers, who previously recorded unfavorable references about candidates, tend to give thecandidates less credit for past successes and hold them more personally responsible for pastfailures after the interview.

Feelings/ Mind set: If an interviewer likes a candidate, she/he may attach positive attributes tothe candidate that don’t actually exist. Thus, interviewers could be influenced in their candidateselections by their background, attitudes, motives, values, aspirations and biases.

Stereotyping:This refers to f orming an opinion about how people of a given gender, religion,race, appearance, or other characteristic think, act, respond, or would perform the job – withoutany evidence that this is the case.

Halo/ Horn effect:The “halo” effect occurs when an interviewer allows one strong positive pointabout the candidate to overshadow or have an effect on everything else. For instance, knowingsomeone went to a particular university might be looked upon favorably. Everything the applicantsays during the interview is seen in this light. (“Well, she left out an important part of the answerto that question, but, she must know it, she went to XYZ University). The “horn” effect is just theopposite – allowing one weak point to influence everything else.

Candidate-order or Contrast error:Strong(er) candidates who interview after weak(er) onesmay appear more qualified than they are because of the contrast between the two. This means thatthe order in which the interviewers meet with candidates often affects how they rate them. Thus,an “average” candidate who is interviewed after several “unfavorable” candidates is evaluatedmuch more favorably that she/he might otherwise have been, since in contrast to the“unfavorable” candidates, the average one appeared much better that she/he actually was.

Contrast (Candidate-Order) Error – The order that a person is interviewed can affect their rating. For example, a candidate may be viewed more favourably than they actually are if they were interviewed after a series of unfavourable candidates.

Telegraphing – This is when the interviewer is “telegraphing” expected answers to help the candidates respond correctly to the questions. It can be as obvious as asking a question like “This job can be very stressful. You can handle that right?” or as subtle as smiling or nodding when the candidate responds favourably after a question.

Similar-to-Me Bias – Interviewers tend to view candidates that are similar to themselves more favourably (i.e. candidates that posses the same demographic, personality, or attitudinal characteristics as the interviewer).

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