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Don’t Scare Candidates Away! Keep Your Interview Process Enjoyable

If you’re an experienced HR pro or hiring manager, you already understand the importance of treating your candidates with respect. Of course you would never bully them, bait them, insult them, or cross examine them as if they’re being accused of a crime. Foolish moves like these will drive away great candidates and cause a form of adverse selection; eventually, talented contenders who have other options will look elsewhere, and only the desperate will remain.

But to conduct a truly successful interview, you’ll have to go a step further than basic civility. Here are a few ways to make your interview process not only tolerable, but enjoyable—on both sides of the table.

1. Approach the process in the right frame of mind. Of course you have a job to do and a position to staff. But if you take an all-business approach and never let your guard down even once, then your candidate probably won’t either. So relax. Think of the candidate as a guest in your home, an interesting person you haven’t had a chance to meet yet.

2. Remember that the process works two ways. The candidate will be taking and leaving impressions as actively as you are. The power balance may appear to tip in your favor, but if she’s the right one for the position, you need her as much as she needs you.

3. Keep an open mind. Cut off any budding feelings of skepticism or criticism before they appear on your face. If you need additional information or reassurance after a candidate speaks, ask for it. Don’t just glare disapprovingly. Again, the candidate will pick up on your energy and will close down if you do.

4. Smile if your candidate makes a nervous joke, and nod if she shares information which seems to make her proud. These gestures don’t express any kind of commitment on your part—they’re just polite. And they’ll improve the experience for both of you.

5. Notice if your candidate wants to redirect the conversation, and follow her where she chooses to take you. This may reveal far more useful information than you’d get by forcing things back onto the script every two minutes.

6. Strive to impress. Invest effort in generating a feeling of warmth, welcome, competence, and enthusiasm for the task at hand. Small details like a clean, well-organized interview space, a firm handshake, and respect for the candidate’s time can dramatically elevate the conversation and help both of you get the most out of the process.

For more information on how to make the interview process a pleasant experience and how to leave a lasting impression on your most talented candidates, contact the NC staffing experts at PSU.