The Prime Directive: Or…Three Mistakes To Avoid In Hiring Interviews

I’ve just finished recording a module for an upcoming online course I’m producing (stay tuned if you want REAL RESULTS in your hiring interviews!) and I realized the content of that module would make a great article for this week’s blog/vlog!

To understand this week’s subject, ‘The Prime Directive’ in hiring interviews, we need to ask ourselves an important question: Why is it that so many employers end up hiring the wrong people for the job? This is a question that has plagued organizations and businesses for…well…for-EVER! The short answer can be found in the following 3 interviewing mistakes which I’ve often talked about. Check out this week’s Vlog for a summary of the Prime Directive and read further below:

Mistake #1: Square Peg, Round Hole

One of the big arguments against structured interviews goes something like this: ‘How can you possibly hope to find the unique and true candidate for the role, if you try to put everyone through the same ’round peg hole’ interview?? Not everyone will fit! Won’t you disqualify really good candidates this way?’

This is what I call the ‘cookie cutter’ argument. My answer is simple: YES! Yes, yes, yes! I want to eliminate any and all candidates who don’t fit into my round hole of a job. After-all, the nature of the job is ’round-holeness’! Therefore, only people who are equipped with ’round hole’ skills and experience will work for this role!

Mistake #2: Mini Me Syndrome

Interview Bias, or ‘Confirmation Bias’ is a thing! It’s been well-researched and studied and it applies to you if you’re human and you interview potential candidates for employment roles! In short, Interview Bias is the unconscious instinct for us to favour those who remind us of ourselves. In an interview situation, if unchecked, this tendency will result in interviewers hiring people that ‘resonate’ with them, as opposed to hiring people who resonate with the role. This natural bias is our innate social instinct to bond with people who are ‘like us’. This is overall, a great human characteristic because it connects us with community and allows us to form meaningful relationships. However, when not managed in an interview situation, this will lead us to hire people who we really like, but not necessarily people who can do the job we’re hiring them for.

Mistake #3: Halo Effect

Similar to Interview Bias, Halo Effect is our natural tendency to form positive opinions of people, based on our own previously held positive opinions or values of specific traits or qualities. For example, after interviewing someone for a role, we may say to ourselves, ‘He’s a single parent so he’s got to be a good person’. This then becomes the basis of our hiring decision. Unfortunately, whether the person is a good single parent or not, is probably a secondary or even irrelevant piece of information in relation to the role being interviewed for.

These 3 hiring interview mistakes are more common than you might imagine. Which leads us back to the answer to our initial question; how to avoid hiring the wrong people for the role? The answer lies in one simple (but not always easily obtained) objective:

The Hiring Interview Prime Directive:

The main purpose for any hiring interview must always be to test a direct link between the performance of the candidate in the same or similar roles and the skills, behaviours and qualifications of the current role being hired for. Full Stop.

Everything you do in the interview, including all the questions you ask and all the tests, hoops, filters or other forms of qualification you put the candidate through, must test this link and how strong that link is. Anything else discovered during the interview process is secondary or even irrelevant to this prime directive. A consistent, well-formatted, well-researched, structured interview is the best tool to get this link tested and measured.

Happy Interviewing!


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Then leave a comment below on your experience, thoughts or advise on the above ideas.

Want to put an end to ineffective, inaccurate and time-wasting hiring interviews? Please share this post with your network!


Lee Hodgins, CPHR works with entrepreneurs, business owners & hiring managers to leverage the power of hiring interviews to dramatically boost their effectiveness and accuracy in finding the most qualified job candidates. More information is awaiting you online at

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