Q&A: What to Do When Interviewing a Weak Candidate

It’s an uncomfortable situation. You’re interviewing a candidate and know within moments that it’s not the right fit. Now what? In this week’s Q&A, HR expert David Lewis shares his advice for moving forward.

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How to Handle a Bad Job Interview

What are the tell-tale signs that this isn’t the candidate for you?

Most candidates I see that fail to make it to the next round in our screening process may have typos in their resume, an excessive amount of positions in a relatively short period of time, poor presentation of their background, and in general seem to have not read our list of requirements as they have some or none but not all of what we were looking for.

Is it appropriate to end an interview after only a few minutes with the candidate?

I strongly feel that if you have allowed an unqualified candidate to come in for an in-person interview that you must give them an interview that lasts 30-60 minutes minimum. Further, when you do end it after say 10 minutes it’s been my experience that you increase your risk for possible legal action and discrimination claims.

How do you modify an interview for a candidate you know won’t be advancing?

Practicing your pitch and doing most of the talking is the best way to make the time go by, especially when you don’t care to hear anything further from the candidate.

How should a hiring manager respond when the candidate brings up next steps?

Keeping it general is key. There should be no indication that you have no intention of passing them along. With that said let them know they are one of several candidates being interviewed, that you only plan to send on XX candidates, and that sometime in the next week they will hear about next steps. Then be sure to get in touch and let them know they are not being passed on to the next level.

Is there anything else you would like to say about this topic?

It’s about keeping things professional and courteous. When you leave that path you can cause significant damage to your brand, your reputation and potentially your wallet.

About the Expert

David Lewis is President / CEO / Founder of OperationsInc, Connecticut’s largest Human Resources Outsourcing and Consulting firm, specializing in support for small to mid-sized businesses. You can learn more about David and OperationsInc here.

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Rachel Dotson is a former digital marketing manager and former blog contributor at ZipRecruiter. She is based in Venice, California.

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