Great Resume, But Poor Interview: What Should an Employer Do?

Put on your detective hat! As an employer conducting interviews, you must use your best judgment to discern the good candidates from the … not-so-good candidates. It can take a little detective work and some gut instinct to get it right, especially if you have a candidate with a strong resume, but a very weak interview. What’s an employer to do?

How to identify a second-chance candidate

The candidate who looks good on paper but interviews poorly may deserve a second chance. Here are a few ways you can determine whether or not to re-interview:

  • Consider that the candidate may have simply been nervous. When faced with something they feel strongly about—like a great new job opportunity—some people may exude excitement, while others may get tongue-tied and shaky. Consider how much could be riding on this new job, especially if the candidate is older or the sole breadwinner in his or her household. Faltering on answers to your interview questions may simply mean the candidate really wants the job and emotions are getting the better of him.
  • Think about the candidate’s body language. Guilt can be crippling. If the candidate misrepresented or exaggerated something on his or her resume, it might come across through a weak interview or nervous behavior. Avoidance of eye contact and sluggish posture can indicate insincerity, while strong, sustained eye contact, attentiveness and a firm handshake can indicate sincerity. Based on his or her body language, what is your assessment of the candidate?
  • Contact the candidate’s references. Speak with his or her reference list to gain an understanding of the candidate’s work ethic, past experience and character. This can also give you a feel for the validity of the candidate’s resume.
  • Peruse social media. How does this person relate to the world on social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn: is he or she negative or positive? Are professional LinkedIn references brief and generic, or do they seem to describe the same person you were expecting based the resume?

Finally, trust your instincts. If all signs seem to point to a nervous person who simply interviewed poorly, plan to conduct a follow-up interview. To make the most of it, follow these interview tips:

  • Review your interview questions. Make sure they give the candidate ample opportunity to paint a full picture of what he or she has accomplished, and wishes to accomplish in the future. Avoid shifting rapidly from topic to topic, which can be especially jarring if the candidate has a lot of past work experience to talk about with you. Move logically—or chronologically—through interview questions.
  • Consider the time of day. Let the candidate choose the time of day for the follow-up interview for an opportunity to catch them at their best.
  • Open slowly. To give the candidate a chance to relax, open the interview with some light-hearted, friendly conversation. Then ease into the interview questions.

By allowing a re-interview, you just may find a great new employee that you almost passed over! If your sleuthing indicates that a second chance might be worth it, by all means, conduct a follow-up interview.

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