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11 ways a hiring interviewer can ruin an interview

While we know there are common mistakes job candidates can make, but what about interviewers? They’re equally fallible and have room for improvement.

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It isn’t just the applicant that can mess up a job interview

There are endless errors a job applicant can make, and most of the attention is spent on these types of errors, but entrepreneurs and business decision makers often suck at interviewing and commit more egregious errors than the interviewee.

To find out ways an interviewer can ruin an interview, we asked Jonathan Kennell, CEO of interview scheduling technology, Reschedge, to discover these errors. Kennell created Reschedge after talking with recruiters and learning that roughly a third of their time was spent scheduling interviews.

Kennell explains, “I happened to have studied planning and scheduling algorithms at MIT when I got my masters degree, and I thought of a way we could very quickly help schedule interviews using technology. We threw a prototype together over a month or so, and when our initial users told us how much they loved it, we decided to focus on it full time.”

With his finger on the pulse of recruiting and interviewing, in his own words, Kennell offers the following 11 ways an interviewer can ruin an interview:

1. Poor time management

If you don’t cover all the topics you are responsible for, the hiring committee may not have all the information it needs to make a hiring decision.

2. An abrupt start

It’s important to take a few minutes to introduce yourself and keep the conversation light at the start of an interview. If you just jump into questions without a proper intro, you will maximize the candidate’s stress levels which can make a huge negative impact on their performance. They will also feel like you don’t care about them as a person, and most likely not want to work with you.

3. Mismatched questions

Many roles can be filled by candidates from a variety of backgrounds. If you ask a candidate a question that’s not appropriate for their particular background, they will most likely not do well even if they are a fantastic candidate.

Example: Asking a software engineer with a Windows background a bunch of questions about Mac programming.

4. Lousy feedback

If you don’t write enough detail in your interview feedback – especially the facts of what happened, and not just your opinions – the hiring committee may have to write off your entire interview as a waste.

5. Poor preparation

Everyone goes into an interview with some idea of what questions they will ask, but you can ruin an interview if you’re not ready for the range of potential answers to your questions. For example, many questions have multiple correct answers. How will you know what is a “good” answer? Better prepare – or your interview could be a wash.

6. Asking illegal questions

Asking something as simple as “Where did you fly in from?” can open yourself to problems with EEOC banned topics. Make sure you’re familiar with EEOC protected characteristics or you could ruin your interview by crossing the line!

7. Being too predictable

If you always ask the same questions, don’t be surprised if candidates share their experiences and people start showing up knowing exactly what you’re going to ask them. Mix it up a little – and ideally ask questions that don’t have a straightforward right answer.

8. Running long

If your interview is part of a series of back to back meetings, it’s critical that you finish on time. If you don’t, someone after you will most likely not have enough time to get through their topics, which may result in the hiring committee not having the information they need to make a hire / no hire decision.

9. Forgetting it’s a two-way street

The candidate isn’t the only one in the hot seat: if you fail to sell your company, you may do a great job of identifying a great candidate, but end up souring them on working with you.

10. Not showing up

It takes a lot of time, money, and effort to bring an interviewer and candidate together. If you blow off an interview or cancel at the last minute, you are throwing all of that away – and can probably kiss the candidate goodbye.

11. Poor coordination

It takes a lot of information to make an informed hiring decision. If you are part of a day-long interview panel and don’t properly coordinate with the rest of the team, the hiring committee can easily find themselves making a hire / no hire decision with inadequate information. Make sure you figure out in advance what questions need to be asked, and who is responsible for each topic. Then throughout the day, keep everyone posted in case a topic gets missed or the candidate gives an inconclusive response so you can revisit that topic with the interviews that are left.

The American Genius is news, insights, tools, and inspiration for business owners and professionals. AG condenses information on technology, business, social media, startups, economics and more, so you don’t have to.

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Business News

Hobby Lobby increases minimum wage, but how much is just to save face?

(BUSINESS NEWS) Are their efforts to raise their minimum wage to $17/hour sincere, or more about saving face after bungling pandemic concerns?

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Hobby Lobby storefront

The arts-and-crafts chain Hobby Lobby announced this week that they will be raising their minimum full-time wage to $17/hour starting October 1st. This decision makes them the latest big retailer to raise wages during the pandemic (Target raised their minimum wage to $15/hour about three months ago, and Walmart and Amazon have temporarily raised wages). The current minimum wage for Hobby Lobby employees is $15/hour, which was implemented in 2014.

While a $17 minimum wage is a big statement for the company (even a $15 minimum wage cannot be agreed upon on the federal level) – and it is no doubt a coveted wage for the majority of the working class – it’s difficult to not see this move as an attempt to regain public support of the company.

When the pandemic first began, Hobby Lobby – with more than 900 stores and 43,000 employees nationwide – refused to close their stores despite being deemed a nonessential business (subsequently, a Dallas judge accused the company of endangering public health).

In April, Hobby Lobby furloughed almost all store employees and the majority of corporate and distribution employees without notice. They also ended emergency leave pay and suspended the use of company-provided paid time off benefits for employees during the furloughs – a decision that was widely criticized by the public, although the company claims the reason for this was so that employees would be able to take full advantage of government handouts during their furlough.

However, the furloughs are not Hobby Lobby’s first moment under fire. The Oklahoma-based Christian company won a 2014 Supreme Court case – the same year they initially raised their minimum wage – that granted them the right to deny their female employees insurance coverage for contraceptives.

Also, Hobby Lobby settled a federal complaint in 2017 that accused them of purchasing upwards of 5,000 looted ancient Iraqi artifacts, smuggled through the United Arab Emirates and Israel – which is simultaneously strange, exploitative, and highly controversial.

Why does this all matter? While raising their minimum wage to $17 should be regarded as a step in the right direction regarding the overall treatment of employees (and, hopefully, $17 becomes the new standard), Hobby Lobby is not without reason to seek favorable public opinion, especially during a pandemic. Yes, we should be quick to condone the action of increasing minimum wage, but perhaps be a little skeptical when deeming a company “good” or “bad”.

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Business News

RIP office culture: How work from home is destroying the economy

(BUSINESS NEWS) It’s not just your empty office left behind: Work from home is drastically changing cities’ economies in more ways than you think.

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An empty meeting room, unfilled by work from home employees.

It’s been almost six months since the U.S. went into lockdown due to COVID-19 and the CDC’s subsequent safety guidelines were issued – it’s safe to say that it is not business as usual. Everyone from restaurant waitstaff to start-up executives have been affected by the shift to work-from-home. Even as restrictions slowly begin to lift, it seems as though the office workspace – regarded as the vital venue for the U.S. economy – will never truly be the same.

Though economists have been focusing largely on small businesses and start-ups, we are only just beginning to understand the impact that not going back into the white-collar office will have on the economy.

The industries that support white-collar office culture in major cities have become increasingly emaciated. The coffee shops, food trucks, and food delivery companies that catered to the white-collar workforce before, during, and after their workday, are no longer in high demand (Starbucks reported a loss of $2 billion this year, which they attribute to Zoomification). Airlines have also been affected as business travel typically accounts for 60%-70% of all air travel.

Also included are high-end hotels, which accommodate the traveling business class. Pharmacies, florists, and gyms located in business districts have become ghost towns. Office supplies companies, such as Xerox, have suffered. Workwear brands such as J. Crew and Brooks Brothers have filed for bankruptcy, as there is no longer a need to dress for the office.

In Manhattan – arguably the country’s most notorious white-collar business mecca – at least 1,200 restaurants have been permanently lost. It is also is predicted that the one-third of all small businesses will close.

Additionally, the borough is facing twice as many apartment vacancies as this time last year, due to the flight of workers no longer tied to midtown offices. Workers have realized their freedom to seek more affordable and spacious residence outside the city. As companies decentralize from cities and rent prices drop, it isn’t all bad news. There is promise that particular urban white-collar neighborhoods will start to become accessible to the working class once again.

Some companies, like Pinterest and REI, are reporting that their shift to work from home is in fact permanent. The long-term effects of deserted office buildings are yet to make themselves evident. What we do know is that the decline of the white-collar office will force us to reimagine the great American cities – with so much lost due to the coronavirus, what can now be gained?

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Business News

2020 Black Friday shopping may break the mold

(BUSINESS NEWS) Home Depot states their new plan for deals and discounts over two months, in place of a 1-day Black Friday event.

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Men shopping in an empty aisle, Black Friday to come?

Humans change and adapt – that’s just in our nature. Retail stores have struggled to maintain their sales goals for years as more and more people move to ordering online. Online prices still seem to be within customer expectations and often come with free shipping. Additionally, people that may have preferred to shop in an actual brick-and-mortar store have changed their shopping habits dramatically in 2020; it’s hard to social distance and be safe in crowded stores or in small aisles. Black Friday may be next to change.

Amazon and other big box store’s online ordering platforms have simplified getting what you need delivered right to your front door. According to Statista, “Amazon was responsible for 45% of US e-commerce spending in 2019 – a figure which is expected to rise to 47% in 2020.”

Retailers count on the holiday season, specifically Black Friday deals (the day after Thanksgiving), to bring in up to 20% of their annual revenue. It’s hard to just remove that option completely. But considering the times of social distancing, wearing masks in public, and especially avoiding large crowds, the tradition of Black Friday will need to look different this year.

It will also be interesting to see what supply chain disruptions from early 2020 will have the most effect this shopping season. We saw predictions in March that said the United States would see the biggest disruptions in about six months. Black Friday falls right on that timeline.

Home Depot has announced their plans to go ahead and give the deals over a two month span, starting in early November through December (both online and in stores with the possibility of adding some special deals around the actual Black Friday date) to help encourage a more steady stream of shoppers versus so many packing in on the same day.

The home improvement chain has actually seen a great sales year. This is likely due to people working from home and being interested in doing more home projects (and possibly having a bit more time to do them as well). As of May 2020, “The Home Depot®, the world’s largest home improvement retailer, today reported sales of $28.3 billion for the first quarter of fiscal 2020, a 7.1 percent increase from the first quarter of fiscal 2019. Comparable sales for the first quarter of fiscal 2020 were positive 6.4 percent, and comparable sales in the U.S. were positive 7.5 percent.”

Home Depot, along with many other retailers like Walmart, Target, and Best Buy have confirmed that they will be closed on Thanksgiving Day, which may not be new for all of them but has always signaled the kickoff of the holiday shopping season.

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