Job candidates have a 36.89% chance of getting a job offer after their first interview.
Needless to say, this can make job interviews a stressful ordeal.
But as the interviewer, you can help put candidates at ease.
And it’s in your best interest to do so because their comfort has a direct impact on how well the interview goes for all.
So here are some simple things you can do to put your job interviewee at ease:
1. Explain how the interview will go
Nobody likes showing up unprepared. So make sure you tell the job candidate ahead of time how the interview will go.
Give them the location and time of the interview as well as its format. Will it be in person, over the phone, or via video call?
Also, let the job candidate know who will be interviewing them—a manager, an executive, or a group of interviewers?
They should also know if they’ll be required to bring anything or to provide a skill demonstration. For example, you might want to test their programming skills by having them complete a simple coding task.
Give as much detail as possible so that the job candidate feels prepared when they arrive.
2. Create a warm welcome
At the interview, create a welcoming atmosphere. Introduce yourself and then take some time to engage in small talk. This helps break the ice and allows the candidate to open up.
Some good ice breaker questions include:
- Did you have any trouble getting here?
- Have you ever been a customer of our company? How was your experience?
- Where are you from?
Such questions can help lower anxiety and stress. Just don’t let your questions get too personal.
Asking about the candidate’s weekend or their favorite TV show at the first interview could make them feel more uncomfortable.
Also, consider offering a drink of water or a small snack. This can help calm the candidate’s nerves, especially if they’re hungry or thirsty. Water will also help if their throat gets dry from talking.
3. Get rid of distractions
Distractions can offset the interview atmosphere and make it difficult for the candidate to relax. So turn off your cell phone and put up a “do not disturb” sign to keep people from walking into the interview uninvited.
For remote interviews, make sure you find a quiet room with a neutral background, good lighting, and no one else around. And make sure you close any unneeded programs or browser tabs on your computer so you can give the job candidate your full attention.
4. Introduce the company and role
Another way to calm the candidate’s nerves is to introduce the company and role. This gives them the opportunity to just listen and take a break from talking.
It also helps them better understand what the position entails and whether they’ll be a good fit. Remember, a job interview is just as much a way for the candidate to assess the company as it is for you to assess them.
Speak clearly when you go over the company and role and give the candidate plenty of opportunities to ask questions. This way, you can clarify things and address any concerns.
5. Display positive body language
Actions often speak louder than words. If you have negative body language, it can make the candidate feel more uncomfortable.
So keep a smile and look the interviewee directly in the eye. If you’re interviewing remotely, look into your webcam as much as you can. Eye contact shows that you’re actively engaged.
If you must look down to take notes, nod along and look up occasionally to show you’re still listening.
Maintain good posture as well. Sit up straight in your chair so you don’t look bored or tired, and avoid crossing your arms, which sends the message that you’re closed off.
Though it seems small, using good body language has a significant impact on how candidates feel. So keep it in mind.
6. Maintain good pacing
You don’t want the candidate to feel rushed, under too much pressure, or like they’re drinking information from a firehose.
So maintain good pacing.
This means allowing time for the candidate to ask questions and giving them time to answer yours. Let them know it’s fine for them to take some time to think before answering. They may have never considered the question before and need some time to formulate their thoughts.
If the candidate goes silent for too long, help them out by reframing the question. Encourage conversation and don’t interrupt the candidate when they are speaking.
7. Finish on a positive note
Lastly, finish the interview on a positive note. Thank the candidate for their time and share a compliment. This can help ease their nerves, especially if they performed better than they think!
You should also tell the candidate when they can expect to hear back from you and what the next steps in the hiring process are. Leaving candidates in the dark is unprofessional and can leave them feeling anxious as they go home.
Some things not to do
Now that you know what to do when it comes to putting candidates at ease, here are some things not to do:
- Don’t make the interview an interrogation. Yes, you need to ask questions, but don’t let the interview be only questions. Make it a conversation.
- Don’t ask curveball questions. These are questions that aren’t relevant to the job and can come off as overbearing.
- Don’t ask the hard questions first. Many interviewees are nervous as it is. So don’t lead with your hardest questions. Throw out some easy ones first.
Hiring the right job candidate is no easy task.
But if you help interviewees feel relaxed during the interview, you’ll have a much clearer picture of their potential. So do your best to put candidates at ease from the get-go.
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