Job interviews can be incredibly stressful.
And the problem is, to get the most out of your candidates, you really want them to feel relaxed and at ease; so they can be themselves.
What you don’t want is a nervous wreck who ends up spouting gibberish and saying things they probably don’t even mean for a whole hour.
Why would I care if a candidate is comfortable or not?
Because candidates will perform much more naturally when they feel at ease in a situation; it will be easier to build rapport and equally give a better impression of you and the company.
Just think about it; a stressed candidate won’t be able to show their best side, which leaves you unable to make the most informed decision you can about them.
And, a stressed candidate is much more likely to leave the interview with negative feelings about the role and your company.
In 99.9% of situations, you want to ease your candidates into an interview. Let’s take a look how…
1. Say “hello!”
I cannot overstate the importance of being courteous to your candidates.
If possible, greet interviewees yourself, even if they have to take a seat for a while before the interview actually starts; it will help to settle their nerves.
If not possible, make sure that all interviewees are greeted by a friendly member of staff and that they know they’ll be taken care of.
2. Offer them a drink.
It’s not only polite to offer your candidates a drink before the interview, but it is also a friendly way to ease them through the process.
A simple sip of water will quell a dry throat and lips, inevitable side effects of nervousness and will also give them a chance to pause and refocus when faced with a difficult question.
3. Don’t be late.
Candidates are reminded time and time again to turn up on time to the interview, yet interviewers still seem to believe that it’s acceptable for them to show up late.
It’s really not.
There’s nothing more frustrating than turning up on time for an interview and then being left to wait around for an hour, while the previous interview, a meeting or even a lunch break overruns.
It makes candidates feel unloved and gives a bad impression before the interview has even begun!
Interviews should be based on mutual respect for one another.
4. Location, location, location.
Have a think about your interview location for a second…
Have you considered how the room actually looks and feels to an outsider?
- Is it comfortable? Stiff chairs, dark lighting and high or low temperatures are bound to make the candidate feel uncomfortable and therefore negatively affect their performance.
- Does it feel important enough? You want your candidate to feel valued. If the room feels more like a broom-cupboard than a boardroom, they’ll understandably feel unappreciated.
Take some time to set the room up before you get there (including temperature) so you both feel comfortable and natural.
This may sound obvious, but maintaining positive body language is crucial on both sides of the interview table.
If you want to immediately put your candidate at ease, keep smiling, offer them an open posture and don’t be afraid to have a laugh (if the opportunity arises).
If you’re looking into the distance, frowning incessantly or crossing your arms, your candidate will certainly feel uncomfortable.
6. Introduce the company and role.
Once you’ve welcomed your candidates into the interview and they’ve got a glass of water to wet their whistle, it’s time to get down to business.
But, rather than going straight for the jugular, with loaded questions that will immediately put pressure on your candidate, try easing them into the interview, with lighter conversation.
Take a few minutes to introduce the company, its story and background, before running through the role and its context within the business, keeping it friendly, light and fairly brief.
Stress the positives and show them a warm welcome!
(If your next question is going to be ‘so what do you know about the company?’ make sure that you don’t give too much away when making introductions! It will render the question useless.)
7. Don’t be unfair.
Don’t expect too much from your candidates.
Asking mega difficult questions like…
- Bamboozling brainteasers.
- Trick questions.
- Questions you know they won’t be able to answer (to see whether they attempt to BS you).
…will simply leave your candidate feeling scared and unsure.
And think about it; do you actually learn anything more about them?
To a certain extent, interviews are a matter of personal style.
At Coburg Banks, we believe that you can get more out of an interview when the individual is relaxed, but there are others who prefer to see how the candidate operates under pressure.
Recruiter Pro Tip
Ok, so to keep this balanced, there are a few situations where you might prefer your interviewee to be a little on edge. For example:
- If the job requires someone who can cope with high-pressure situations.
- If you have a huge list of candidates and need to whittle it down, quickly.
- If an interview is going a little too well (IE. it feels over-scripted and false).
But it’s important NOT to go too far. You will simply end up putting your best candidates off.
Always consider your employer brand!
Want to read more like this?
This blog post is an extract from our free eBook “The Ultimate Guide to Hosting the Perfect Interview.” If you found this useful, then it’s definitely worth downloading this, here.
Or if you’d like to keep reading about this topic in particular, here are some more great resources.
- Five tips to help candidates relax during an interview
- How to Make the Job Interview More Relaxing
- Why Stress Interviews Don’t Work
Good luck.- Mark Wilkinson