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How to help your candidates relax at an interview

22 Mar 2019

Candidates will more often than not give their best performance at interview when they feel relaxed, comfortable and welcomed. We've just a few tips here which you should bear in mind next time you're interviewing, to make sure you let the candidate perform as well as they can: 

  1. Whilst there often needs to be a certain level of formality, there's no need to go overboard! Calling people Mr Jones, or Miss Smith, when you can quite easily use their first name, is a no-no. 
  2. Smile!! It goes such a long way to making candidates feel welcome, and will help to put them at ease. 
  3. Candidates will often have an expectation to shake hands with their interviewers when they meet them. Oddly, we've seen some interviewers state that their policy is 'not to shake hands at interviews'. It's bizarre! Imagine how you would feel if you go to shake someone's hand, and they turn away or break eye contact to avoid it. It's a sure fire way to put the candidate into confidence-reduction mode. Shaking hands is courteous, professional and welcoming, so just get on with it! 
  4. Before the interview officially begins, explain to the candidate exactly what's going to happen. Set out the format of the interview, explain that you'll be taking some brief notes, reassure them that you want to hear how their skills and experiences match the requirements of the job you are looking to fill, and confirm that there are no right or wrong answers. You just want the candidate to be themselves. A great way to help put them at ease is to eplain that if they need time to answer a question, then they should take it. There's no rush. 
  5. Make sure there's some water / tea / coffee for the candidate. If anything, it gives them a small distraction while they are thinking of their answers, as well as helping them out when that frog inconveniently appears in their throat. 
  6. Eye contact - make sure you make it when you are asking the candidate questions, and make sure your body language shows you are interested in what they are saying. Don't sit there with your arms crossed, doodling and waiting for them to finish their sentence. 
  7. And finally, show your appreciation for what they are saying. Asking probing questions when they have provided an example of their achievements shows you are listening, and that you really are interested! 

We know many of these seem like common sense, but it's surprising how many don't put them into practice!