Your Top Job Candidate Bombed the Interview. Now What?

By Jezabel Southard

Posted on May 7, 2014

Interviews play an integral role in helping hiring managers decide whether a candidate is a good fit for the position. While a candidate’s resume or initial screening phone interview can provide a glimpse into the candidate’s potential fit for the position, the face-to-face interview is how hiring managers can fully assess their skills and capabilities.

So when a top candidate does poorly in their interview, hiring managers may feel suddenly lost.  The candidate’s resume and phone interview portrayed a great image of the candidate, so what went wrong?  Does it mean you should drop the candidate from consideration altogether, or try another approach?

Like all first impressions, the impression a candidate makes in an interview may not be an accurate reflection of the candidate’s strengths and value to your organization.  To spot a great candidate who was simply having an “off” day, ask these questions:

  • Did our questions focus on the past or the future?  Many interviewers make the mistake of asking a candidate only about his or her past work.  However, what was done in the past won’t always tell you how the candidate will respond in the future.  A candidate who responded with tales of past work may not be demonstrating a lack of initiative, but a desire to answer the questions asked in an honest fashion.
  • Did the candidate seem frustrated or “out of place”?  Short, clipped answers, a furrowed brow, tense shoulders, or tapping fingers or feet can all indicate a candidate who is frustrated with the questions or the interview process.  Fatigue and frustration can affect even the best candidates, and for several good reasons.  A poorly planned interview, badly phrased questions, or jet lag from travel to the interview site can all affect a candidate’s clarity of mind and presence.  Streamline the interview process and commit to sharing information frequently in order to reduce frustration in future interviews.
  • Did the candidate seem “off balance” or confused, especially by sudden changes in topic?  Not all top candidates can change direction in conversations quickly, especially under the kind of pressure generated by an interview for a job the candidate desperately wants to land.  Candidates who think systematically will do well when questions are grouped under similar themes and changes in topic are introduced: “Now I’d like to talk a little bit about your problem-solving skills….”

For the last three years, our experienced staffing partners understand what you should do if your top job candidate interviews poorly. This expertise has helped earned TERRA Staffing a place on the Best of Staffing – Client list, with a client satisfaction score that is over eight times higher than the industry average.  Contact us today to learn how we can help your company!

Categories: HR and Management Advice, Staffing Tips & Recruiting Trends

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