How some companies interview badly; 5 suggestions to raise the bar

bad-job-interviewer I once had a corporate client with bad interviewing habits. It wasn’t just one person; the slowness to hire seemed to be part of their culture, a rather sclerotic interviewing process.

The visible damage was often good candidates, initially interested in joining but lost interest after a few months, and later spoke disparagingly about them, reputational bruising which was unnecessary, but I think they were either oblivious to it or didn’t much care.

I can’t quantify such “damage”, as the company rolled along globally, but certainly spent more time than necessary on ‘damage control’ with senior candidates, covering for a cavalier interviewing approach.

Here are 5 things this company often did, seemingly unconcerned of how to impress and lure strong talent on-board.


  • Almost never provided feedback. After an interview, I usually try to contact both candidate and client. Candidates would usually give me their thoughts and how it felt overall. I seldom heard anything back from this client. They were too busy, or the feedback would be “we’ll come back to you soon”, but most of the time didn’t. I had to spin stories when asked what I’d heard back from the client.
    Suggestion. Communicate internally and externally after each interview, consistently.
  • Rarely interviewed on time, or habitually changed the venue, times or interviewers.
    When someone makes the effort to leave their office to come and meet a potential employer, last-minute changes need to be kept to a minimum, as does having someone cool their heels in a lobby for 45 minutes…
    Suggestion. No distractions when interviews are slated, or put more qualified people in to interview (qualified does not mean just HR, but those who have more than a passing interest).
  • Were unprepared, both by not having read the CV or not being able to clearly explain–or sell–the position, more ‘check-the box’ type of questions with no bounce, a chore more than not.
    Suggestion. As above, have a check list and cross-reference what the others have already asked.
  • Couldn’t decide. Multiple internal interviews are still one of the best ways to assess a short-listed candidate. But in their case, there was seldom any consensus because there was no rigour to the hiring methodology; the left foot never knew what the right foot thought, or they changed the job scope (which meant different candidates). Or there was a re-org coming, and there was a hiring embargo. This happened twice. I understood such issues, but there were no deadlines, things just slid along. And with deadlines, nothing really happens; hiring is only one manifestation of a lack of strategy.
    Suggestion. Stick to a deadline, cut it loose as soon as possible, or know clearly what the new time frame is and let others know. Hiring ‘drift’ is lethal.
  • Thought everyone wanted to work for them. It was a large branded and well-recognised MNC, and plenty of people queued up to see if they could work there. The client had a blinkered notion that everyone who interviewed just naturally wanted to work there, and overlooked that fact that almost all the candidates had steady jobs, good employers, and were actively investigating. Were they interested? Absolutely. But an emotional tug was needed, some wooing, and that never happened.
    ​Suggestion. Interviewing is a two-way street and a level playing field. Both interviewer and candidate must know how to communicate openly​ to attract the other side.

​They did hire people, but I can tell you they didn’t usually get the A players. They didn’t know how.​

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