Top Ten Things NOT to Do When Conducting an Interview

We all know the importance of making a good impression during an interview. But many interviewers forget that this applies to themselves just as much as it does to their candidates. After all, the goal of the recruiting process is to attract top talent – it’s crucial that interviewers represent themselves, and their organization, as professional and welcoming. Unfortunately, not all interviewers know how to conduct an interview so they look good too.

Some interviewers’ behaviour can unwittingly sabotage their efforts to appeal to candidates. We’ve seen this in action and watched as the spark has gone right out of a candidate’s eyes. So to assist our fellow interviewers, we have compiled this list of the top ten things NOT to do when conducting an interview:

  1. Talk about yourself more than the candidate:

    While it’s true the candidate does need to know about your organization and the position you are looking to fill, interviews are really a listening exercise for the interviewer. This is your best chance to assess their experience and see if they are a good fit so make sure you take it.

  2. Make rude interruptions:

    This includes yawning, interjecting when they’re speaking or leaving the room during the interview…or anything at all related to cell-phone use (see number 3).

  3. Be distracted by your cell phone:

    Your cell phone can be a huge distraction for your attention when you should be listening to your candidate, and loud ringtones and notification sounds can interrupt and throw them off. Set your phone on silent, and if you can, place it somewhere out of reach and forget about it until the interview is over.

  4. Interrogate the candidate:

    Asking questions is a big part of the interview, but your candidate isn’t under arrest. Pose your questions in a friendly tone and encourage clear communication with open body language. This will help to ease even the most nervous candidate and should elicit thoughtful answers.

  5. Make snide comments, side-eyes, or eye-rolls:

    It’s true, sometimes a candidate can say something so off the mark that it’s hard not to react. But don’t forget this person is likely feeling vulnerable and nervous. Any critical gestures will make them feel more self-conscious.

  6. Ask questions linked to areas protected by Human Rights legislation:

    This includes making inquiries into pregnancy or marital status; sexual orientation; age; race; or religion. An employer cannot make a hiring decision based on these grounds, so it’s best to not to open the door to any potential complaints and steer clear.

  7. Contradict or discredit your co-interviewer during the interview:

    While you may have distinct and diverging ideas and perspectives you want to share with the candidate, this should be done in a friendly and respectful way. It seems like common sense to do this, but we’ve seen colleagues erupt in passionate disagreements in front of a candidate. Yikes.

  8. Hold the post-interview debrief before the candidate has left the building.

    Regret is realizing a candidate has overheard the unflattering comments you made about them when you thought they were gone. Save those candid remarks until after you’ve waved the candidate good bye through the closing doors of the elevator.

  9. Give the candidate false hope:

    If you still have steps to take in your recruiting process, don’t let the candidate leave thinking they got the job when it’s still undecided. It’s not fair, and it opens you up to legal action.

  10. Leave them hanging:

    Get back to unsuccessful candidates after the interview, even if it’s just a brief email thanking them for their time and interest. It’s only polite and reminds them of your professionalism. You never know, you may want to consider them for another role down the road, or they may become a future customer or social media supporter. Why not maintain the good impression you made in the interview and ensure your company’s reputation is held in high regard for its treatment of people?

For a consultation on your interview process, contact Pivot HR Services today at

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