The Most Common Candidate Rating Errors and Interview Mistakes - Atomic Hire Blog
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The Most Common Candidate Rating Errors and Interview Mistakes6 min read

June 27, 2019 5 min read


The Most Common Candidate Rating Errors and Interview Mistakes6 min read

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Even experienced professionals are subject to interview biases and candidate rating errors. To overcome the limitations of unstructured interviews and provide all candidates a similar experience, many companies are opting for structured interviews. In its ideal form, a structured interview determines that all candidates are asked the same questions and scored using a standard system.

But even structured interviews have vulnerabilities with the potential of damaging the relationship with prospect employees and the employer reputation. In many cases, an interview can determine in the eyes of the candidate, whether they are suitable for a particular position or not. When that perfect potential candidate is found, the interviewer has the responsibility to demonstrate their company’s potential and portray its best possible image.

To avoid giving the wrong impression, or even worse, an unfair treatment, let’s discuss the most common rating errors and interview mistakes that should be prevented.

interview mistakes to avoid

Rating Errors

Rating errors are the flaws in judgment that might occur in a systematic manner when someone observes and assesses an individual. These errors are often caused by the influence of personal perceptions and biases on the way one evaluates the performance of an individual. 

The most difficult part in correcting rating errors is the fact that the person committing such mistakes is typically unaware they are doing so. When these errors and the reasons why they occur are understood, professionals and organisations are able to take crucial steps in order to mitigate them.

Most Common Rating Errors

  • Rater Bias

Occurs when the person evaluating another individual allows their prejudices about certain groups of people or personalities to interfere with their evaluation not being able to fairly evaluate a candidate’s performance. 

  • Similar To Me Bias

This happens when someone gives higher than deserved ratings to candidates who appear similar to them. This happens because people have a natural tendency to prefer others who are similar to themselves. 

  • Halo Effect 

Making unsuitable generalizations from one person’s perspective for an individual’s job performance. It can occur due to getting influenced by one or more characteristics, positive or negative.

  • Leniency 

A tendency to evaluate people as exceptional performers and to give exaggerated ratings rather than a legit evaluation of performance.

  • Central Tendency 

The tendency to evaluate each person as below average or average regardless of performance differences.

  • Strictness 

A tendency to rate everyone at the low end of the scale and being over critical of performance.

  • Contrast Effect 

The tendency of a rater to assess a person comparative to other individuals rather than rating on-the-job performance.

  • First Impression Error 

The tendency to make initial favourable or unfavourable judgments about an individual, and ignore ensuring information that does not support this impression.

The best way to minimize these rating errors is by thoroughly understanding the competencies being assessed and comparing the behaviours exhibited in the interview with the behaviours that anchor the proficiency-level ratings for each competency. 

Ask Yourself these Questions to Avoid Rating Errors

• Is my rating based on my observations of the behaviour of the candidate, or are they based on my perceptions?

• Am I paying attention to each candidate’s competencies individually, or have I generalized about their competencies?

• Am I aware of my own biases  so I don’t let them influence my judgments?

• Have I rated a candidate on his/her actual competency or have I rated her or him compared to other individuals?

Most Common Interview Mistakes

Gone are the days when interviews were a one-sided dynamic where candidates did their best to impress the interviewer hoping for a chance to join the team. Nowadays, with low unemployment rates and companies fighting to attract the best talent, if your organization’s interview process turns candidates off, they will simply turn away and never look back. Every person involved in recruitment has a big responsibility of not only assessing candidates but also convincing the best ones to stay. Following are the most common interview mistakes and how to correct them:

Not receiving candidates properly

More often than not, candidates will come to an interview on time with positive energy. The positive mood might be soured if you leave them waiting for half an hour. Finding out that the administration has not been informed about who they are and who have they come to meet can be equally frustrating too. Give a warm welcome to your candidates. It won’t only influence their view about your company but will also improve their interview performance.

Not reading their resume

Being a busy professional, it is understandable that you’re caught up with tons of things at the same time. However, not spending a few minutes to read the candidate’s resume is a big faux pas that will quickly be noticed. You should respect your candidate’s qualifications and show them that you are interested in hiring them rather than giving them a cold shoulder. 

You don’t care and it shows

There are numerous things that can distract you during an interview; an important email, upcoming meeting or another interview. Some interviewers may even be least interested in a candidate because they already prefer another. Candidates deserve to be heard as they have prepared for this interview. Be present and listen to what your candidate has to say.

Dominating the discussion

It’s good that as an interviewer, you want to break the ice, sell your company and ask questions. But if it all results in an endless speech, it can be harmful to the hiring process. You must encourage the candidates to talk for about 80% of the time. Don’t interrupt them and give them enough time to have their own concerns addressed.

Boasting a lot

You should present the company in the best possible way. Sometimes, interviewers get carried away because they are satisfied employees and sometimes they also exaggerate to make an impression. Praising your company should be done prudently and should be thought through before. 

Give a Chance to the Candidates and Stay Prepared

While interviewing the candidate, you should always give candidates a chance to succeed. It would be disturbing (not to mention inappropriate) if you tell the interviewee that they’re inferior to other candidates and that their hiring chances are low. An interviewee must be welcomed warmly and they should know that they are important. Before starting your interview, you should take your time to research and make questions that consider their past experiences mentioned in the resume. Being prepared is the best way to assess a candidate efficiently and make an informed decision.


Conducting interviews with a potential employee is a very important and responsible occasion that requires preparation and ability. The recruitment teams must be able to effectively conduct interviews with the candidates and provide assessment for further decision making about employment. 

Each interview has a purpose and it is the duty of the interviewer to determine very clearly what their objectives are and to choose the most appropriate way and techniques to achieve them.

By acknowledging and preventing the aforementioned rating errors and interview mistakes, we hope you would make better hiring decisions for your company’s best interest while providing a great experience to your applicants.

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