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How to Make the Job Interview Less Stressful for Candidates

In Interviews — by Tess Pajaron

job interview

It’s perfectly natural for even the most talented and eligible candidates to feel anxiety going into a job interview. In fact, they may even feel the largest amount of anxiety: The best candidates don’t just want any job, they want your job. But if a candidate feels the pressure, they may not deliver to the best of their ability during the job interview.

Don’t lose out on great candidates by turning the heat up too high. By putting your candidates at ease during the job interview, you’ll be giving them the best chance to put their best foot forward. Here’s how to improve the candidate experience and make the job interview less stressful.

Be hospitable

Welcome a candidate to the office as you would a guest to your home. Offer them a cup of coffee or glass of water. Encourage them to explore your workplace. Let them know where your restroom facilities are. Having them sit there and wait in silence will only make things feel tense, and this is even more true if your candidates are sitting with each other. Do what you can to avoid the tense atmosphere.

Be careful of the impression you’re giving

When you’re interviewing a candidate, of course you want to seem professional and knowledgeable. After all, you’re not only representing yourself, you’re representing your organization. But also consider whether a candidate would find you to be personable. Maintaining a poker face is part of being professional, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be warm and engaging. If you seem cold and impersonal, an interview can feel like an interrogation. Remember, the interview is a two-way street: It’s not only important that you like the candidate, but that the candidate likes you.

Tell the candidate about yourself

Regardless of how closely you’ll be working with a candidate, take the time to tell them about yourself. Who are you? Why are you the one conducting the interview? What role will you play in this candidate’s life if they accept a position with your company? Not only will addressing these things at the beginning of the interview create a welcoming environment, it will also give the candidate insight. They’ll get a better idea of how your company is structured and what the chain of command looks like. They’re probably wondering how the position they applied for fits into the grand scheme of things, and knowing that will give them some much-needed peace of mind.

Avoid trick questions

Many interviewers use trick questions as an opportunity to see how fast a candidate can think. Sure, there are diplomatic ways to answer “What’s your biggest weakness?” or “Why do you want to leave your current position?” – but why make candidates jump through those hoops to begin with? You may believe this is a clever tactic to weed out candidates who won’t be a good fit, but there are far more negative connotations to setting a trap than you may think. By trying to corner a candidate, you’re introducing yourself to this person and automatically telling them that you don’t trust or believe them.

Never bombard the candidate

Hiring cycles consume a lot of your time, but that’s not an excuse to cheat your candidate out of the time they deserve. Don’t jump right into the questioning. Allow your candidate some time to get comfortable before you start drilling them. Talk about your company, your goals, and the things you appreciated most about their resume. Create an environment where they feel less scrutinized and more understood.

The comfort of your candidate should always be at the top of your list of concerns when you’re conducting a job interview. In today’s candidate-driven job market, candidate experience is paramount. The top candidates won’t lack for options. Making a good impression is every bit as much of a concern for employers as it is for candidates.

Photo courtesy of Ethan

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