Interviewer Etiquette

There are many, many guides, hints and tips everywhere for interviewees and how they should prepare and behave at interview. For the interviewer, there is legislation around what we can and can’t ask, along with guidelines about how the interview should be structured. However, apart from common sense, which obviously is present in most interviewers, there is nothing that protects the interviewee from a bad attitude from the interviewer.

Here are some examples of ‘’bad attitude’ from interviewers (and these, unfortunately are very real):

• We won’t take long, I’ve hundreds of people to see, now, what was your name again?

– Did you bring a CV, I’ve lost yours

 • Sorry to have kept you waiting, I was at lunch (candidate waited 45 minutes!)

• We are not making a decision any time soon, we are leaving the position open until we find exactly the right person, and it is a buyers market you know

 • Which agency are you from?

• I haven’t had time to look at your CV, which job are you here for again?

• I don’t think you’re right for this job and I’ve lots of other people to see

• What makes you so special

Other examples include:

• Negative body language; constantly looking at watches, clocks, sighing, tapping pen

• Actively not listening

• Being distracted

• Interviewers sharing ‘looks’ and sniggering

• Being dismissive

• Writing notes constantly and therefore not engaging with the candidate

 • Deciding early on in the interview that the candidate is not right for the job and letting the candidate know this

 • Not getting back to candidates when they have been unsuccessful

• Giving inappropriate feedback

• Ignoring calls from the candidate after the interview

It would be nice to think that these are not real but they are.

It is a fact that there are too many candidates for the number of jobs that exist. In the present market, there are highly qualified, experienced people looking for work who, in many cases are accepting less senior roles, with reduced salaries purely to get back to work, or indeed stay in work. This will have long term consequences for the job market and the people within it. As interviewers, we need to consider this in our approach to candidates.

According to Anne Coleman, Recruitment and Business Manager at Clarigen HR, interviewers need to be careful about how they present themselves and their company to potential employers. Anne comments that ‘in the past, when the market was very different, employers actively spent time building up their employer brand, any damage done at interview is long lasting and things will change in the job market. Interviewers need to be sympathetic to the job seeker, whilst they may not be suitable for this particular role; you need to consider that this may their 10th interview in the past 2 months and their confidence is probably low. It is the interviewers’ role to ensure that they give each candidate a fair and objective interview’.

Bad interviews seem to be on the increase. This could be a consequence of the current market and the pressures that are on businesses, however, there are a number of reasons that interviewers don’t carry out successful interviews. According to Paul Mullen, Founder and Director of Measurability.ie, some interviewers use inappropriate methods as ‘tactics’; they try to unsettle you, play the ‘good cop bad cop’ roles to possibly test how a candidate would respond in certain situations. Candidates usually attend interviews prepared and rehearsed and something that they don’t expect ‘malfunctions’ them. Another reason that interviewers carry out ‘bad’ interviews is that for most hiring managers, recruiting is not their job, they are untrained and very busy. Other reasons include interview fatigue and lack of knowledge.


These tactics and excuses are inappropriate. Competency based questions will elicit any specific information around a skill and all interviewers should be trained in interviewing, both from an attitude and a legal perspective, to protect themselves as well as the candidate.

Interviewers should always:

• Take time to read the CV beforehand

• Make notes about what you want to ask the candidate

• Be on time

• Explain to the candidate what is going to happen and how long you expect the interview to take #

• Ask only appropriate job related questions

• Ask all candidates (for the same job) the same questions

• Be focused and attentive to what the candidate is saying

• Take appropriate, legislation compliant notes

 • Tell the candidate when they can expect to hear from you

• Give appropriate fact based, objective feedback if asked for it

It is easy to make mistakes in interviews, people are busier than they have ever been and many managers see recruiting and interviewing as a necessary evil. Every candidate that walks through the door is forming an opinion of you and your organisation. Make sure it’s a positive one – one day, the shoe could be on the other foot!



Flourish Coaching provides group or 1:1 interviewing skills for hiring managers programs and interview preparation for candidates. Please call on 0879178717 / or visit our website www.flourishcoaching.ie for more information Thank You

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