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Helping Candidates Cope with In-Person Interviews

Posted by Jessica Miller-Merrell

helping candidates in person interviews

Let’s face it, not everyone is a born public speaker, and nerves will run amuck for many of us when it comes to a job interview. Anxiety will be even higher when it’s an interview for a dream job. Recruiters can be proactive when it comes to helping candidates cope with in-person interviews in multiple ways. In order to attract the best candidates, you’ll want to set a level playing field. That’s why making all of the candidates as comfortable as possible will help you find and select the best new hire for your organization.

This topic may seem strange, because most interview-related blogs are all about giving candidates tips and tricks on how to ace their interview. But the recruiter or hiring manager can also do his or her part to make sure that candidates get their best shot at each interview. Interviews take a lot of time, and making sure you hire the right candidate has a direct effect on the company’s bottom line. You don’t want to get a false impression of a great candidate, just because he or she has the jitters. So why not make everyone as comfortable as possible? Here are three things that hiring managers and recruiters can do to help put candidates at ease when it comes to in-person interviews.

Don’t sweat the small stuff.

We’ve all heard enough horror stories already about interviews in which someone says one wrong thing and everything just goes downhill from there. As recruiters and hiring managers, we should understand that candidates are human, and regardless of whether they’re a new candidate interviewing for a position or they’ve been with your company for five years, sometimes people are going to mess up, and they’re going to bomb some things. Candidates are only human, and that’s why it’s important not to get too worked up about small missteps or awkwardness.

Don’t judge someone on your first impression.

Recruiters have a nasty stereotype about them that they’re going to judge everything about candidates from the time they walk in the door, to the handshake, to the way they sit, how they talk, and just about everything else about them. It’s important to remember not to judge them completely based on your first impression. Instead, try to be empathetic, as you would be with a friend. Eventually, if the candidate gets the job, you’re going to be working with him or her day to day, so you may as well start building those interpersonal relationships early.

This will benefit your company because it will help brand it in a positive light, and employees will love your culture from the beginning. Let’s face it, there are hundreds of thousands of candidates out there, but when you invite one in for an interview they have a lot of the power. They can tell their friends about the experience, and this will either harm your reputation because of a bad interview experience, or it will enhance it if they love your company.

Start with low-key questions.

Interviews are always so formal. To make the candidate feel more comfortable, ask some low-key questions in the beginning. This will give them a chance to get comfortable and become more relaxed. Make sure you don’t ask questions that are too personal or pry into any areas that are legally off limits, but at the same time, talk to them like you’re talking to a friend. Make the interview a dialogue instead of a rapid-fire question session where the candidate feels trapped in an interrogation.

The bottom line is this: treat candidates during in-person interviews the way you’d want an interviewer to treat you. There is always a chance that a new employee could one day be your boss, so give them the respect and consideration you’d want from them if the situation were reversed. These three guidelines will help not only take the formality out of the interview, but you’ll also get a better sense of the candidate as a person, and get to know who they really are.

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About Jessica Miller-Merrell

Author

Jessica is listed as the 2nd most influential recruiter online and as the 8th most powerful woman on Twitter. She is the author of Tweet This! Twitter for Business, a how-to business guide for Twitter users. She also writes for a number of leading publications, including Fortune, HR Magazine, SmartBrief, and HR Executive Magazine.

3 COMMENTS Join the discussion
  • Stacy P. April, 30, 2015

    People are really nervous when coming into a job interview, and this hides a lot of their positive traits. To avoid this, I try to start a conversation with some personal questions, such as “Can you tell me about your hobbies?” It really helps people to relax.

  • Sharon Miller May, 01, 2015

    I tried to find out why asking people about personal information has a relaxing effect. I think it refers to what people know for sure, so they lose the fear of failure at answering a question. When you ask something like “Describe the experience of the greatest success at your previous job,” a person recalls a feeling of being quite successful, and this can sweep all the fear away.

  • Kimberly W. May, 04, 2015

    I don’t like people who are trying too hard to look good at the first interview. I perceive them as people who pay more attention to acting like a good worker than to actually performing well. Or maybe I am not right, and this excessive trying just shows that a person had a great experience in previous interviews.

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Guest May, 04, 2015