Six tips to help your candidate to relax at interview

Reading a CV may allow you to assess a candidate’s skills and experience, but the interview process is the first opportunity to really gauge their interpersonal skills and suitability for a role. If a candidate is nervous, it can take away from their overall performance and it can result in a rather awkward experience for all involved.
All interviewers want things to go well, by helping the candidate relax the interview process should run much more smoothly and hopefully produce a good result.
If you have an interview approaching, these six tips should ensure a calm interview room:

  1. Consider your setting

For a candidate, the room they’re interviewed in can give them an insight into the organisation. For instance, if you’d like to convey your informal culture you might consider holding the interview in a quiet corner of a canteen or sofa area. But bear in mind that interviews should be private, if there’s a lot going on around the interview both interviewer and interviewee can get distracted.

  2. Make introductions

You may already have informed the candidate over the phone or by email who they’ll be meeting at the interview but now is the time to explain in a bit more detail of your role in the organisation, and any other interviewers should do the same. The candidate then knows exactly who’re they’re talking to and why you’re the one interviewing them. Doing this has two advantages: you’ll be explaining a bit more about the company and giving the candidate a bit of information will make the interview seem less of an interrogation and more of a two-way process.

  3. Stay open and welcoming

Sometimes interviewers can come across as cold in their efforts to show corporate side. Staying professional doesn’t mean being unfriendly; in fact, you’re likely to get more out of the candidate if you’re open with them and they are at ease. Show you’re welcoming by offering to get them a drink or smiling when you greet them.

  4. Be encouraging

Don’t use your power as interviewer to try and make the candidate slip up, you won’t learn as much from their nervous mistakes as you will from their calm, considered responses. Instead be encouraging, they will feel they can speak more freely and that you’re taking an active interest in what they’re saying. Do your preparation too, so that you have an understanding of their past experience and have relevant questions at the ready.

  5. Be clear

Phrase your questions clearly and ask them one at a time. If you ask a question and a response isn’t forthcoming, re-phrase it or explain what you mean. You should also think about whether the terms and expressions you use internally on a regular basis would be understood by someone outside of the company.

  6. After the interview

Your candidate might still be feeling nervy at the end of the interview, if the interview’s gone well part with positivity: take them on a quick tour of the office and advise them of the next steps in the interview process.
For more advice on conducting interviews and hiring visit the Page Personnel Employer Centre.