Avoid Interview Aversion in Six Easy Steps

Ask anyone in HR, "Do you enjoy interviewing candidates for a job?" I've got a $10 bill right here that says 9 out of 10 will say, "No." And who can blame them. It's like the ultimate blind date, only in this case the interviewer is under pressure to make the right connection again and again.

There are many common pitfalls that an interviewer can fall into. And if they fall into them a time or two, they understandably develop an aversion to the process.

To avoid “interview aversion” here are six pitfalls to avoid:

1. Rushing. When you're facing a mountain of resumes, don’t just take the first 10 and pick a pretty good candidate. Give them all a good look. That perfect candidate may be at the bottom.  If you have a lot of candidates to go through, consider technology that helps you better sort through and organize the information.

2.  Email. Even if your ideal candidate is on the other side of the globe, make time to talk over the phone or Skype. Texting and email are no substitutes for a one-on-one conversation.

3.  Biases. Does the candidate remind you of yourself? Are you wowed by the resume or degrees. Step back and don’t let your biases get in the way. Focus on what’s important-- does this person have the skills needed?

4. Unfocussed questions.  Alison Green who writes the popular Ask a Manager blog says the best way to predict how people will act in the future is to find out how they have actually acted in the past or to observe how they actually act in the present. Too often, though, interviewers ask how a candidate might hypothetically handle a difficult situation. For instance, they'll ask, "How would you handle a difficult client?" Instead, a good interviewer will ask, "Tell me about a time you had to handle a difficult client. How did you approach it? What was the result?"

5. Talking too much. Don’t spend so much time talking about the company that you don’t extract enough information from the candidate to make a good decision.

6. Not being candid about the job. Be sure the candidate knows exactly what's needed to perform the job well. This includes not just technical skills, but other skills such as social skills, problem solving skills and time management skills.

This list obviously doesn’t cover every pitfall. But avoiding some of the big ones will go a long way toward becoming an “aversion free” interviewer.

Diane Mettler has been a manager for nearly 20 years. She's also a freelance writer and editor—with hundreds of her articles published in a variety of magazines—and teaches writing at the University of Washington.