Job interviews are nerve-wracking things no matter how experienced a person may be. When interviewing someone for a role, you’re trying to gain insights into how a candidate thinks and acts. However, nerves have a great way of derailing even the most accomplished and qualified people.

How do you put your candidate at ease in order to have the most productive interview possible? Our tips are here to help:

Provide a comfortable space to interview:

Interviews can be formal, but they don’t have to be uncomfortable. Provide water for your candidates and check if they’d like to use the bathroom before starting. Interview in a place that’s free from distractions, and create a space that is conducive to a conversation rather than an interrogation!

Be upfront:

Sometimes the scariest part of a job interview is the unknown – what questions will I be asked? Where do I go? Who will I be meeting with? Giving your candidates as much information as possible before their interview will help ease the pre-interview jitters. If they know what to expect, that’ll help them better prepare and put their best foot forward.

Be kind:

This is a basic one, but it’s something that hiring managers sometimes forget. People thrive in environments where they feel welcomed and engaged with. Being friendly and smiling with your candidate will help them start to relax and allow the conversation to flow. Having a poker face that gives no emotion away whatsoever will make a candidate start to second-guess themselves. Don’t underestimate the value of putting on a friendly face while you’re interviewing.

Be yourself:

Interviews are a fairly unnatural environment and the act itself – sitting in a room together and asking pointed questions – likely has very little in common with the role you’re hiring for. Sometimes hiring managers get so caught up in trying to present a neutral front that they forget to show any personality or be themselves. Interviews are a two-way street, just as you’re assessing the potential team fit of a candidate, they’re doing the same in return. Acting like a robot when you’re interviewing prospective employees is probably not sending the right message, and as mentioned above, might be throwing your candidates off.

Start things off with chit-chat:

Your candidate is probably a ball of nerves when they take their seat at the interview so why not help ease the tension by starting things off with some general chit-chat? You can give the candidate some background on the organisation and your role within it. Or go even further and perhaps start with an unrelated topic – “how was your weekend?”, “how’s your day been so far?”. While you don’t want to spend too much time off-topic, easing into the conversation and taking the lead will help your candidate start to relax.

Allow for pauses and space:

As tempting as it may be to fill any silences with more talk, allow your candidates the space to think things through and give their answers thoughtfully. If they’re really struggling, see if you can re-phrase the question differently or perhaps move on to the next one and come back to it later.

Let the conversation flow naturally:

Yes, you need to stick to the important questions so you can gather all the pertinent information for your own decision-making, but if something comes up that leads the conversation down a different, (albeit relevant) path, don’t be afraid to go with it. Has something they said sparked your curiosity? Follow that! Just make sure you come back to your original questions and bring the conversation back on track if it does start to veer off into unnecessary territory.

Put yourself in your candidate’s shoes. Are you able to present your best self when you feel nervous or intimidated? Probably not. While job interviews are a bit of a test of a candidate’s ability to handle pressure and speak to their skills and experience, they’re also your chance to get to know potential new team members. By making it as enjoyable an experience as possible for both parties, you’re more likely to find what you’re looking for!

Good luck,
Kirsty and Nikki

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