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Four Interview Mistakes That Turn Off Top Contractors

By: Leslie Stevens-Huffman

You expect contract engineers to be on their best behavior when they interview, but you may not realize that the expectations go both ways. A negative experience can tarnish your firm’s reputation and drive away top prospects. Worse yet, the problem may be bigger than you think.

Twenty-six percent of workers have had a bad experience as a job applicant, citing a lack of follow through, inconsistencies from the employer, or poor representation of the company’s brand as the primary culprits, according to a survey by CareerBuilder.

Are you inadvertently making mistakes that repel top engineering contractors? Review our list to see how you measure up.

Engineering Contractor Waiting

No. 1: Being Disrespectful

This category encompasses several faux pas that convey a lack of regard for the engineering professional and their time. If a candidate gets the impression that he or she isn’t important, they may think it’s indicative of the firm’s culture and accept another assignment.

Naturally, you shouldn’t keep them waiting in the lobby or take phone calls during the interview. But failing to disclose the scope of work or the type of technical questions you plan to ask forces a candidate to spend hours preparing for multiple scenarios.

As software engineer and author Gayle Laakmann McDowell points out: “The better prepared the candidate is, the better you can assess them. If you’re going to be asking technical questions, tell them – and tell them what sorts of topics will be involved. Even better – give them some direction on how they can prepare.”

No. 2 Being Unprepared

The issues here include failing to review the contractor’s resume in advance or coordinate interviews with several members of the staff. Springing an interview on a colleague at the last moment may cause them to say something embarrassing like: “Which project are you interviewing for?”  Or, “I’m sorry I’m so disorganized. I wasn’t expecting to interview anyone today.”

This type of confusion makes a contractor wonder how they can possibly succeed when the engineers aren’t on the same page.

No. 3: Leaving Candidates Hanging

Don’t let a great contractor get away. If the interview goes well, hire them on the spot or provide a timeline and stick to it. A highly skilled engineer may accept another assignment if you seem wishy-washy, since veterans believe that “a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.”

No. 4: Not Selling the Company or Position

You can expect that your recruiter has already highlighted all the great things about the opportunity to the interviewee.  Failing to reinforce the positive attributes of the opportunity and expand upon the candidate’s knowledge of the organization shows a lack of confidence or transparency. This can turn off top candidates. In fact, the best interviews invite an interactive dialogue with questions going both ways.  Plus, it never hurts to understand external perceptions of your organization, and the attributes that make it attractive for prospective candidates.

Speaking of feedback, we enjoy your opinion of our articles and the overall PEAK organization.  Please feel free to post comments below.

Other information of potential interest

Five Myths about Co-Employment

10 Must-Follow Tips for Becoming a Highly Effective Engineering Manager

Insightful Interviews: Favorite Questions Asked by Engineering Managers

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