9 common mistakes in brands’ IT interview process

Many brands make common, avoidable mistakes in their IT interview process.

It’s easily done. But it’s also difficult to recognise until you start noticing you’re hiring the wrong people for key IT jobs.

Here are common errors companies make when interviewing for Information Technology roles and how you can rectify them:

9 common mistakes in brands’ IT interview process

If you want to sabotage your own IT recruitment process, it couldn’t be easier. Here’s what you need to do:

1) Have no consistency

If you don’t have a structured set of questions to ask each interviewee, it’s difficult to compare the results you get on an equal footing.

Have a plan in advance and decide how you will objectively assess the answers you get.

2) Ask some cliché questions

What would you say is your greatest strength? What is your greatest weakness?

Some over-done interview questions have become cliches for a reason. The best candidates for IT jobs you want to fill will have prepared for the most common ones.

Try to ask something that actually reveals something about a candidate’s attitude, approach, or experience rather than the standard questions.

3) Send mixed messages

If you don’t use a specialist IT recruitment agency like Ernest Gordon, it’s not uncommon for recruiters at different levels of an organisation to give a candidate different impressions about a role.

This can lead to situations where your team leader might have said one thing but your HR team has communicated another. The highly desirable candidate is left unsure about what is actually involved.

Again, a proper structure for what you will ask and when should help make your communication consistent.

4) Rely on your first impression

As an interviewer, it’s difficult to get over the first impression a candidate makes. Trusting this natural reaction is often a mistake though.

They walk in, make eye contact, shake your hand smoothly. Is this really relevant to the data science job you’re recruiting for though?

If anything, look for reasons to go against your initial impression. Like the candidate? Look for something that’s negative. Put off by their awkward shake? Try to look for something good.

5) Make friends

As an interviewer, if you strike an instant rapport with a candidate for an IT job, it can feel like a natural decision to hire them.

Equally, it can be tempting to try and make friends by sharing negative stories about your workplace (people bond over shared experiences like this).

In both cases, it’s vital to remain objective and never to trash-talk any aspect of working for the company. Even if it might seem a completely natural, bonding thing to do.

6) Lie

No one wants to think of themselves as a liar. But accidentally exaggerating one aspect of a role or diminishing another is incredibly common in the interview process of many companies.

This can quickly come home to roost when a fantastic candidate finds their new IT job has been (consciously or otherwise) misrepresented to them and they swiftly resign.

Try to be honest as possible when you answer the questions a well-prepared candidate will ask. You can “sell” the role without telling fibs.

7) Use an inexperienced interviewer

A candidate has a lot to prove in an interview. But the interviewer has to hold their weight too. It’s not an easy role.

A huge failing in many brands’ IT interview processes is that their initial interviewer selection accidentally sabotages it. For instance, the interviewer might be:

Nervous – an awkward or nervous interviewer can broadcast that emotion to their interviewee, making them fail to give a good account of themselves.

Uncaring – an interviewer who isn’t paying attention, hasn’t read the candidate’s resume, or doesn’t seem bothered about who gets the job will distract any candidate.

Intimidating – interviewers that like the sound of their own voice, who don’t listen, or who are even physically aggressive to candidates can be disastrous in interviews (and to a brand’s reputation too).

8) Be unfair or too fair

A common approach when hiring for complex technical roles like CTO, or software engineer jobs in general, is to ask questions that the interviewer expects most candidates not to be able to answer.

This can be done to see “how they perform under pressure” (an equal justification for interviewers trying to intimidate candidates). Unfortunately, it’s not a very effective method.

On the flip side, letting off a candidate who clearly hasn’t done any research or put any effort into preparing for your interview isn’t a good strategy either.

9) Let bias creep in

On top of other biases (racial and gender bias and even bias towards good-looking candidates), there are two types of prejudicial interview behaviour that need to be watched out for:

Recency bias – your interviewer is most taken by the most recent candidates. This commonly happens in the shorter technical interviews for some IT jobs.

Primacy bias – your interviewer automatically favours the first candidates. This is more common in longer interviews when the interviewer gets wearier as the process continues.

A tactic that has proven successful is to take detailed notes or even to record interviews so they can be analysed fairly.

Anything else risks making one of the most common mistakes in brands’ IT interview process. Something that every company that wants to recruit top talent should be on the lookout for.

Need to start your IT recruitment process in the right place?

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