Getting the Most out of Interviews: Making Candidates Feel Comfortable

The interview process is designed to assess which candidate should be hired to fill a job vacancy. In order for a hiring manager to learn all they can about a candidate during this process, it is imperative to engage in meaningful conversations with candidates during this process. All too often hiring managers will try to “wing it” by asking questions that come to them during the interview. Another common mistake is that they are too busy focusing on asking the next question, they miss important information about the candidate.

Create Trust

To engage in these meaningful conversations, create trust. Creating this type of environment allows the candidate to let down their guard to be able to share more during the interview.

Building trust with a candidate you just met is a practiced skill. Move too quickly into the killer questions and the candidate freezes up. Move too slowly and you may never learn if the candidate has the critical skills you are looking for.

Develop trust by making the candidate feel welcome by establishing common ground early on in the interview. Develop ice breaker questions which allows a candidate to talk about their personal experiences before diving into the formal question and answer interview format. Set the tone early on to develop deeper conversations with a candidate.

What types of questions generate this trust with a stranger? Great examples include:

  • What is motivating you to look for a new opportunity?
  • Tell me what you are looking for in your next employer.
  • What is important to you in your career now?

After those initial questions, make a smooth transition to the harder interview questions.

Practice Makes Perfect

Candidates can tell when they are with an unskilled interviewer. If you are leading an interview for the first time, prepare the questions in advance and ask a trusted colleague to provide feedback after you present the questions. Whether you realize it or not, you are being interviewed by the candidate.

Review the resumes and information from the candidates in detail. If there are some conversation starters you can glean from those documents, use them to build common ground.

You are asking the candidate to be as open as possible during an interview, so practice your elevator speech too. Be able to describe your experience and what you enjoy about working at the company. Show your vulnerability during the process. This leads to a meaningful exchange that will guide you in selecting the best candidate.

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