Bad Interview Techniques And How To Avoid Them

Some people naturally give better interviews than others, but the interview stage of recruitment is arguably one the most important. Candidates are usually well informed and, if they are any good, they will have done their research. They will have prepared answers for questions concerning their main weaknesses, and even what type of animal they would be. These stock answers don’t reveal any information, and your role as interviewer is to unearth relevant data and information so that you can choose the candidate that best fits the position that you are interviewing for.

Start by identifying whether your current interviewing process needs improving or updating. If you are guilty of conducting interviews that resemble the following, then you should completely readdress your technique in the hope of enjoying better results.

Informal Chats

If you have no plan and no structure, then the most likely outcome is that you will end up with something more akin to an informal chat. You may learn whether you can work with the person that you interview, or determine whether you like one another, but you won’t be able to ascertain whether they have the skills that you need. You should be prepared to ask difficult and proving questions, and you should avoid interviews that jump from topic to topic as the mood takes you.

Candidate Led Interviews

Another problem, if you have no structure to your interview, is that you run the very real danger of candidates leading the interview. You need to take charge of the interview, and you need to ask the questions that really matter to your company. Without a structure, and without any prior consideration to what you are going to ask, you run the risk of being more concerned with your interviewing skills than the candidate’s skills. You also run the risk of letting or forcing the candidate to lead the interview. Not only does this mean that you only hear what they want you to hear, but it will also put a lot of candidates off. They will view your corporate brand in a much dimmer light, and this can ruin your reputation for future hiring too.

Haphazard And Random Interviews

If you don’t plan an interview, then you will be forced to try and improvise on the spot. This haphazard method of interviewing means that, even if you get the interview spot on on one occasion you are unlikely to repeat it again in the near future. You won’t be able to compare candidates on a like-for-like basis. Prepare, plan, improve, and enjoy the more beneficial results of your better structured interviews.

If you want to avoid falling into these interview pitfalls, follow the strategies and steps below to accomplish better interview results.


Know what you intend to ask before the interview starts. Have responses prepared for common questions, and don’t be afraid to prepare any of your team members that might need to be called in during the interview. Don’t just prepare in your head, either, because it can prove all too easy to forget what you were going to ask. If you intend to set tests, offer documentation on the company, or incorporate any other recruitment practices into the interview, ensure that these are prepared too.


Structure the interview. Allow some time for general chat and introductions at the beginning, time to answer questions as well as ask them, and allow time for team members or consultant that you intend to have coming in asking more technical and specific questions. Having a structure will enable you to ensure that you complete all elements of the interview.


Different interviews for different positions may take different formats. However, if you are interviewing a large number of candidates for the same position, then a standard structure will serve you better than conducting a structurally different interview for every candidate. Standardising the questions that you ask also enables you to more easily compare the different answers that you receive from different candidates. Tabulate results and you can easily compare responses side by side.

Avoid Personal Questions

You have to be very careful with the legalities associated with HR and personnel when interviewing. You can’t be seen to discriminate against people for their age, marital status, disability, or religion. Instead of asking questions like “How old are you?” you can ask questions like “Are you over 18?”

You should be aware that if you do ask discriminatory questions, a candidate may have the right to pursue legal action against you. Avoiding these types of question can help you avoid litigation, and prevent candidates from losing interest in the job. Some people naturally get defensive over certain personal questions, too; another good reason to avoid asking them.

Use Your Team

There is no reason to conduct the whole interview yourself. When asking specific and technical questions, you can use members of your team that are in a better position and have more specific knowledge of the topic at hand. Ensure that any team member you do use is prepared; give them chance to prepare questions or to prepare a small task. Even if you do have an intimate working knowledge of the topic, bringing an extra team member in means that you can concentrate on different styles and types of question.

Dig Deeper

Many interviewees are well educated on the interview process. The best candidates will have done their research, determined the questions you are most likely to ask for the position and prepared answers. Be prepared to ask lots of probing “how” and “why” questions in order to encourage deeper responses and to get beyond the prepared corporate responses of some of your candidates.

Ask For Specifics By Asking Specific Questions

Theoretical questions do have a genuine and useful purpose, but they are also limited in their use. At least, they should be. Instead of asking theoretical questions, that typically start like “What would you do if…” ask specific questions and encourage responses that cite actual and genuine examples. “Tell me about a time when you…” gives you a good indication of how a person copes in the situation that you outline, while also detailing the steps they would take.

Recital Consulting is a specialist IT recruitment consultancy, connecting qualified and experienced candidates with leading companies and recruiters. Hone your interview skills and enjoy access to a raft of qualified candidates to ensure that you get the best people working for your company.

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