Interviewing Mistakes

Interviewing candidates for an executive opening is a significant step in the hiring process. How else are you going to be able to get to know your potential co-worker? At this level, you can expect the interviewee to have as many questions about your business as you do about their experience and culture fit. While many of us, especially at a senior level, feel as though we know how to conduct an interview, there are interviewing mistakes you could still be making without realizing it.

Interviews Don’t Always Work

The first, and most surprising mistake is to put too much emphasis on the interview itself as part of the hiring process. Research has found interviews to be a poor predictor of job performance. Last year, the New York Times featured an article titled, The Utter Uselessness of Job Interviews. In it they cite studies in which interviewing actually decreased the accurateness of predicting how someone will perform.

This is not to say that interviews should not be conducted. Interviews serve a vital purpose in the selection process. Being aware of our own confirmation bias can help improve the interview process. We’ve all read that we form an impression of people within seconds of meeting them. There’s nothing we can do about this, it’s human nature. It’s what follows, our confirmation bias that we need to be aware. Without realizing we’ve already created an opinion of the person, everything that follows tends to support our initial split second first impression.

A second factor that we take into account is how someone behaves during an interview. Much like a first date, we’re not typically seeing their real personality. They are putting their best foot forward, are well rehearsed, and extroverts can come across far more engaged than introverts.

There are three approaches to the interview process that can increase your chances of making the right decision, consistent process, skill-based problem solving, and culture assessments.


Creating a consistent process requires time and preparation. Working with an executive search firm can reduce the burden on you and your HR team. Executive recruiters do this for a living and are up to date with current best practices. A consistent process can ensure that every candidate is asked the same questions, and experiences the same interactions with the company. This approach has made interview results more reliable.

Problem Solving

Problem solving is an activity that reflects an actual aspect of the role. There are a variety of ways to conduct a problem solving exercise. You can provide the candidate with a case study and have them present the results to you. You can ask them to shadow you for a day, which should include a staff meeting and current project needs for the open role. Ask them to act as though they are already in the role. There are any number of ways to create activities that identify how a candidate solves problems.

Cultural Assessment

Cultural assessments have become an integral part in executive level hiring. At Sheer Velocity, we partner with Hogan Assessments to determine how a candidate’s personality will mesh with your executive team. In addition to our work with Hogan, we also conduct our own proprietary Corporate Cultural Alignment. Working with an industrial psychologist, we designed the test to facilitate a dialog with your top candidates.

For more insight and help on making interviews as fruitful as possible, send us note. We can help you make sure you’re not wasting time and increase your chances of finding the best fit for your needs.