Should You Hire a Candidate with Terrible Interview Skills?

Don’t you hate it when that happens? The perfect resume leads to a great screening call, and when the dream candidate comes in for an interview, the connection falls flat. Interviews gone bad usually result in a no-go. Instead, a candidate with greater compatibility and more interview-ready finesse will be chosen.

We all know that a great interview can lead to a bad hire, or to an employee who is eventually let go. After all, every fired employee was once at the top of a list of potential hires. In this case, we chalk it up to resume embellishment or a lack of post-hire growth.

But what do we do when the opposite happens? Have you ever hired an employee who interviewed poorly? Should you?

Ask yourself the following questions to determine whether an interview disaster could still mean employment gold for you and your company:

  • What are you looking for?

Are you looking for a confident, charismatic salesperson? If so, the shy and timid
candidate who just tanked their interview might not be hireable – at least not for this role. Are you looking for someone who is eloquent and able to deliver verbal communication like no one else? If so, perhaps you should pass on the mumbler who just came through. However, if you are hiring for an IT job or office job that doesn’t require these skills, perhaps the nerves or the mumbles aren’t such a big red flag?

  • Where did it all fall apart?

Did your recent interviewee fumble from handshake to “thank you for your time”? If so, you may want to look at elements outside their interview to make the call. However, if your interview went swimmingly until a certain point, identify that and consider the reason. Perhaps your office job candidate was confident & calm until you asked a more technical question and they were ruffled by a lack of experience. If this is paramount, choose another candidate. If you were just asking to gauge breadth, overlook it. Perhaps your interviewee only began to mumble and misspeak after you took a long pause to take notes. If they perceived this negatively, uncertainty could have taken over. Remember how this would make you feel in an interview and take heed – this may not be an indication of job performance potential.

  • What are this candidate’s strengths?

You chose to interview this candidate because they demonstrated strengths – perhaps it was in the cover letter or the resume, perhaps a phone screening did the trick, or maybe you had a very positive conversation with a listed reference. Think back to these assumed strengths and test their credibility against what was asked in your interview. Perhaps your tech job candidate has a successful troubleshooting track record but you spent a majority of the interview discussing interpersonal skills – a lacking area of your candidate’s expertise. If interpersonal skills are essential and there’s no time to train the candidate on this, perhaps it’s a bad fit. However, if this candidate possesses technological skill beyond your wildest dreams, what is there to lose?

  • Is this candidate a good fit?

The bottom line for your interview process is to find the best candidate for the position at hand. Is your not-so-savvy interviewee the one? Just as an anxious test taker might bomb a class in which they are otherwise an expert, so too can the perfect candidate unravel in an interview setting. Consider the entire body of candidacy – resume, cover letter, references, and disposition – when choosing your next hire.

For more advice and other HR tips, check out the TRN blog or call to speak with a staffing expert today!

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