We all know interviewing for a job can be stressful and a source of anxiety for potential candidates. One of the best ways to lose good talent before hiring is to tank the interview on the employer’s side – by making candidates feel nervous and unwelcome. It may be completely unintentional on your part, but you need to remember they’re also deciding whether or not they want to work for you. Here are some good ways to make sure that your candidates are at ease when they come to interview, so that you can really see what they have to offer.
Make them feel welcome
Leaving a candidate in a bare waiting room is a great way to increase anxiety and turn them off to the work environment before they know anything more. Make sure the candidate is greeted with enthusiasm, and has any needs met. Offer a drink and show them where the restroom is if they need to wait for any length of time. If you have a flexible workspace, invite them to walk around to get a feel for the place for a few minutes. Whatever you do, try and schedule interviews in such a way that they aren’t face to face with their competition. Leave plenty of time for one candidate to leave before another may arrive.
Have a familiar face present
Before the interview, you’ll most likely have had previous contact with the jobseeker, either through an HR person or through your recruiting department; essentially someone who has had a few conversations with them, and has been the face of your company thus far. Invite that person along for the interview process, or at least have that person greet and introduce the candidate to the interviewers. Sending them in sight unseen to a group of strangers can seem a bit like facing a firing squad. Even if it’s just been telephone conversations, having a connection with someone will help them feel a little more at ease.
Don’t forget introductions
Have your familiar face introduce himself or herself in person, and then introduce everyone else in the room. Knowing who is asking you questions may help a candidate understand why they are being asked, and might make the process a bit less intimidating. Don’t just identify who you are, but explain how your position relates to the vacant position, and how you will be interacting with them if hired. This helps to clarify their own potential position within the company, and will answer some of the obvious questions about organizational structure and expectations.
Don’t dive in too quickly
Take a few minutes to talk to the candidate about the company, division, mission, and goals. This will allow the candidate a chance to relax and warm up to you, rather than feeling like they’re under attack. It helps to put them at ease while letting you get any points across. Small talk helps to emphasize your humanity, and gives you a chance to explain the interview process and what to expect.
Don’t try to trip them up
People tend to think of an interview as a test that needs to be passed, rather than a discussion to see if the candidate is a good fit for the company. Purposefully trying to stump the candidate does nothing but increase their anxiety, and limits the possibility that you’re going to get a good idea of their skills. This should not be an adversarial process, it should be a time for both of you to figure out whether or not they have the skills you need, and if you offer an environment where they can put their skills to work. Showing off your superior knowledge or trying to make them feel inadequate does nothing but make you look like a difficult employer to work with, and turns them off to the idea that yours is the place they want to be.
Sell your company
Remember, in today’s job market, the interview goes both ways. Don’t assume that they’re desperate to come work for you. Stay positive and enthusiastic, and make them feel as though they would want to come and work for you. It helps put them at ease because it indicates you are enthusiastic about the possibility of them coming to work for you. Helping them feel welcomed and wanted is going to have the biggest effect on letting you see their true strengths.
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