HRM Five: How not to conduct job interviews

The "don'ts" of job interviews - from the HR side of the desk.
By: | February 4, 2017

Yamini Chinnuswamy offers five important points on everything you wanted to know about HR practices today, but were too afraid to ask. Check out previous editions of HRM Five here.


The job interview is most often talked about from the perspective of the candidate. There are countless articles and books out there discussing how to act and what to expect.

But the behaviour and methods used by the people on “the other side” are just as important. The job interview — and interviewer — provide a candidate’s first-hand experience of the company. A miserable experience can make them think that the company is maybe not a place where they want to work, after all, while a positive experience can be invigorating and contribute to a strong employer brand.

And these days, thanks to websites like Glassdoor, candidates don’t just have their personal circles to rave or rant to about their experiences of interviewing with different companies — with a click of a button, the entire internet is their audience.

It’s imperative, now more than ever, to ensure that a job interview is a professional experience for all involved. Read on for a few “no-nos” for HR managers when running interviews with candidates:



  1. Don’t waste the candidate’s time.
    Making them wait or not doing your homework by reading their application materials, will signal to the candidate that you — and subsequently, your organisation — do not respect them, or take them seriously. It’s only fair to treat them with the same courtesy that you probably expect from them.
  2. Don’t talk too much during the interview process.
    Keep in mind that the interview is an opportunity for you to learn about the candidate. Of course, you should absolutely give them space to ask questions about the company and role, but you also want to make sure that you learn as much as possible by the time the interview is over. No one likes a dragged out recruitment process where they have to come back for multiple rounds of interviews — it’s tiring for candidates, and it’s time-consuming for employers, too.
  3. Don’t try to play bad cop just for the sake of being intimidating.
    If you have concerns about certain aspects of a candidate’s skillset or experience, just ask them honestly. Likewise, there’s nothing wrong with challenging them with scenarios or problems that are relevant the role they have applied for. But being rude and dismissive is a bad idea — you need to be selling the candidate on the position (and company), as much as they should be selling you on their competencies and experience.
  4. Don’t get too friendly. 
    Nonetheless, don’t get carried away trying to “sell” them. You might find that you get along well with the candidate, but as a HR manager, you probably won’t have to work with them directly. Even if you do, while interpersonal “fit” is important, you don’t want to get caught up in that — you might end up choosing the candidate who you see as a potential friend, rather than the person who is most suitable for the job.
  5. Don’t ask illegal questions. 
    This varies from country to country, naturally, but there are frowned upon topics which are common to many cultures. These include questions about a person’s age, gender, marital status, race, religion, which can lead to discrimination lawsuits.