Most of us have been job applicants at one time or another, so we know how stressful it can be. That’s why if you’re representing your company, you should know that it’s not always a good idea to make your applicant feel stressed. They may equate this feeling with being unwelcome to the company. Even if you think the applicant is right for your company, the stress of the interview may convince the applicant that your company is not suitable for their nerves.
So here are some tips on how to make your job applicants more relaxed during the interview:
- Before the interview, have the applicant’s previous company contact the present. The applicant may have met or even just talked on the phone with some prior to the interview, and it’s always a relief to find someone familiar instead of just meeting with all strangers. You can have that contact at least make introductions with the other interviewers.
- Let the applicant relax. Maybe you can offer them a glass of water or a cup of coffee, or perhaps you can show them where the restroom is. If the workplace is flexible and accessible, show the applicant around.
- Make sure your interview schedule doesn’t have applicants bumping into each other. Leave enough time in the schedule for one applicant to leave before another arrives. It can be tense when an applicant meets their competition.
- Introduce the interviewers properly. Say your names, job titles, and what you really do for the company. Explain how your job relates to hiring and how you will work with the applicant if they are hired. You may also explain how the company is structured so that the applicant will know their place in the hierarchy.
- After the introductions, maybe you can first talk about the company and its goals. This gives the applicant time to further relax, while you sell and promote the company to the applicant.
- Don’t start the interview with tough questions about the applicant, as they may feel like you’re attacking them. Instead, engage in a bit of small talk to put a more human face to the company. You may also explain the interview process a bit.
- Don’t present the interview as a test that the applicant must pass. That’s a perspective that inherently makes the interview a lot more stressful. Instead, see if you can present it as a discussion to find out if the applicant will match the company—and if the company will match the applicant. The interview should feel like a hostile adversarial process, like a prosecutor interrogating a suspect.
- Avoid showing off your superior expertise or make them feel incompetent. This feels too much like bullying, and it only demonstrates that you and the company won’t be a relaxing place to work in.
Keep in mind that interviews are 2-way conversations. You want to find out more about the applicant, and you want them to know more about the company. Don’t always assume that the applicant will tolerate a stressful interview. You may find that if the interview is too stressful, you may lose the applicant you wanted to hire in the first place!