We’ve all been there: Lost sleep, agonized over which suit to wear, sweated bullets as we drove to corporate headquarters, taken a wrong turn and despite all our trial runs and best efforts, arrived at the scene of our job interview a bundle of nerves.

Frankly speaking, if you haven’t, then you’re in a minority among job seekers. And if you’re the interviewer, keep in mind that nerves can be a positive sign. It often means that a candidate sincerely cares about making a good impression and ultimately, making a lasting contribution as an employee in your organization.

Successful interviewing, especially when a candidate is on edge, involves being focused, listening, and verifying or disregarding the impression you’ve formed of an individual based on their resume and any other preliminary information.

Create a Relaxing Environment
From the moment a candidate enters the room, set a friendly, relaxed tone.

  • Start with a warm greeting and some small talk. Your goal is to establish rapport and gain trust. After saying hello and making pertinent introductions, spend about five minutes on comfortable, neutral topics like the weather or the candidate’s personal interests and hobbies. (Hint: Did you do your homework? If so, you should have some idea what makes them tick, besides work.)
  • Offer coffee, tea or a soft drink – and water. This can be a lifeline, as nervousness can cause dry mouth.
  • Stay away from the “boardroom” setup. Consider a round or oval table, especially if there is more than one interviewer. Use comfortable chairs with armrests, to help the candidate relax and listen.

Provide an Agenda
Often, nervousness is attributed to fear of the unknown. So, give candidates an outline of what to expect from their interview.

  • Outline the schedule. Who will the candidate be meeting with? What else will be involved, for instance, a facility tour? Will sessions be one-on-one or in groups?

Start with Easy Questions
Establish rapport by starting the interview off with easy questions, then building up to more complex ones.

  • Give the candidate time to think. If they appear confused or have a “deer in the headlights” look, offer reassurance. Rephrase your question or come back to it later in the interview.
  • Say thank you – and offer praise for strong answers, without overdoing it.

Be Conscious of Your Body Language
If you’re not relaxed, how is the candidate supposed to be? Now is not the time to be on the edge of your seat, pacing the floor, or tapping your fingers as though you want to escape.

  • Maintain eye contact and smile. Use prompts, such as nodding your head to indicate you’re listening, you understand, and that the candidate should relax and continue.
  • Match the candidate’s speed, tone and volume when appropriate. This quickly builds a person’s comfort level.

As an interviewer, it’s your job to fill openings with skilled, capable candidates. So, be sure you’re not overlooking top talent due to a case of the jitters. Instead, adjust your interviewing method to optimize the likelihood that the results obtained from your meeting accurately depict what an applicant has to offer.

Partnering with a professional recruitment firm can be a valuable asset as you achieve your hiring and staffing goals. To learn more, read our related posts or contact the team at Alternative Staffing today.

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