By | May 13, 2016

Weak interviews: a candidate’s best friend and an organization’s worst enemy. If you’ve been on the receiving end of a weak interview, you know exactly what I’m talking about. You leave feeling like you nailed it and made a best friend at the same time. “Wow, it was so easy! They didn’t ask me any difficult questions!”

After you’re hired and some time goes by, you begin to realize, “hmm…this isn’t what I expected” and you start putting feelers out for other positions because you’re frustrated. When you leave, your department suffers, but so does the organization’s overall performance due to the constant churning of staff and training costs that ensue.

During a presentation on the topic of What Great Managers Do Differently, the CEO of Relias Learning, Jim Triandiflou, asked the audience, “What is the most important thing a manager does?” It was a multiple choice question to which the majority of people answered incorrectly. The correct answer? Hiring. And if we drill it down further… it is the interview process itself that determines the success of a hire.


Understand the elements of a weak interview

First, let’s identify what a weak interview is, because you may be thinking, “Wait a minute; I don’t act like the candidate’s best friend during an interview,” or “Of course I know I have to ask questions.”

I’ve listed a few examples below. If you answer yes to any of the following statements, there is a good chance that your interviewing technique needs some adjusting.

  • I have hired candidates too quickly without thoroughly interviewing them only to turn around and rehire someone new due to poor job fit.
  • I have turned the other cheek on some obvious red flags knowing I would regret it later, but I just really needed the role filled.
  • I have “taken it easy” on candidates that I notice are obviously nervous.
  • I spend most of the interview discussing the organization culture, benefits and job expectations.
  • I go with my gut. I have a very good sense of who people are and can determine whether or not they’ll be a good fit while I’m speaking with them.
  • I have relied on someone else’s interview feedback to make my decision since I was too busy at the time.

How did you do? While some of these examples are understandable, when you look back on the employees who have left your organization – whether voluntarily or involuntarily – try to see if you can trace the reasons for their departure back to any of these statements.


Track for quality, not just efficiency

According to an article in HR Magazine, human resource metrics used to be efficiency-focused and based on measuring cost-per-hire and time-to-fill data. After realizing that efficiency is onlypart of the equation for selecting the right candidates, it is now understood that quality must be the other part.

The article goes on to state that, while top executives agree that hiring the best people is important, the priority of tracking the outcomes of hires is fairly low, essentially giving the impression that managers are getting a “free pass” on talent selection.

As workforce growth slows down and competition for talent speeds up, the need to identify – and build training programs around – managers who can bring a high level of quality in selecting candidates will be increasingly important.

Managers’ hiring choices should be subject to the same level of scrutiny as their performance in generating revenue or managing money.
– Pete Ramstad, Personnel Decisions International


Spend your time wisely

If you truly want to be able to focus your time on the work that drives the mission of your organization instead of focusing the majority of your time on a never-ending cycle of team staffing, you need to improve your hiring process at its most critical stage – the interview.

Think of it this way: the way you choose to spend that block of time – conducting a single interview – will impact the success of your department and the future of your entire organization. So learn to spend that time wisely so you can save time later.

Now that you understand the elements of a weak interview and how critical it is to improve on your interviewing technique, let’s talk about a best practice technique that – if done correctly – provides excellent results.


Commit to behavioral interviewing

Behavioral interviewing is a technique that was developed by industrial psychologists in the 1970’s based on the premise that “the most accurate predictor of future performance is past performance in a similar situation.”

Traditional interviews incorporate questions that are opinion-based. For example, the questions “What attracted you to this position?” or “What is your greatest weakness?” both allow a candidate to provide a personal opinion as a response.

On the other hand, behavioral-based interviews use questions that compel a candidate to respond with stories about how they handled challenges that directly relate to the skills required for the position.

For example, if a position requires excellent decision making skills, or the ability to “think quickly”, you might say, “Give an example of a time in which you had to be relatively quick in coming to a decision” or “How quickly do you make decisions? Give an example.”

Behavioral interviewing helps you gain the confidence – drawing from anecdotal validation of skills – to hire the right candidate for your department and organization.

For a treasure trove of behavioral interview questions organized by skill set, check out the following links.


Are there behavioral interview questions you’ve used successfully that you’d like to share with us? Please leave a comment below!

Jeanine D’Alusio

Jeanine is a senior content marketing manager at Relias. Prior to her career in marketing, Jeanine worked extensively in human resources and learning and development. She has more than ten years of nonprofit experience and was a client of Relias prior to joining the company, serving as an HR Director at a multi-service mental health and community services organization. In her spare time, Jeanine enjoys writing, road trips, and, as a licensed massage and bodywork therapist, helping her clients feel better.

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