13 Ways to Make Candidates More Comfortable During an Interview

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Welcome to Recruiter Q&A, where we pose employment-related questions to the experts and share their answers!

Today’s Question: Good companies always try to give their employees everything they need to succeed, but what about during the hiring process? What’s one thing companies can do to help make candidates feel more at ease during an interview?

These answers are provided by the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization composed of the world’s most successful young entrepreneurs. YEC members represent nearly every industry, generate billions of dollars in revenue each year, and have created tens of thousands of jobs.

1. Let Them Know What to Expect

Tell [candidates] exactly what to expect when participating in your interview process and how they can be successful. Interviewing shouldn’t be the time to trick your candidates or grade them on things they’ve not been made aware of. This will force you to be deliberate with your process and really dial in your approach as well since all candidates will bring their A-game!

— Christopher Tarantino, Epicenter Innovation

2. Connect With and Compliment Them

During an interview, find a way to compliment or connect with the interviewee. Most applicants feel intimidated or approach interviews with a need to prove themselves. Find something on their resume to personally connect over, or, after they’ve shared an experience or anecdote, find a way to compliment them. This can help them feel at ease and confident.

— Leila Lewis, Be Inspired PR

3. Respect Their Time

Remember that every time you’re hiring, you’re meeting people who are putting themselves out there to hundreds of employers. They should respect your time, but you should also respect theirs. Don’t load free work into the interview process. Figure out what skills or traits they truly need to demonstrate and figure out the most time-effective way for them to demonstrate their talent.

— Tyler Bray, TK Trailer Parts

4. Make the Interview Conversational

Break the ice and make it conversational. Hiring an employee is not just hiring help you need. You are beginning a relationship. There needs to be a connection with the person whom you are potentially hiring. You would not even be interviewing them if they did not meet your qualifications, so the interview is to get to know them. It should be enjoyable for all and not an interrogation.

— Peter Boyd, PaperStreet Web Design

5. Use One Interviewer

One way companies can set prospective team members’ minds at ease during the interviewing process is to avoid the practice of using more than one interviewer. Being asked questions by more than one person at a time might seem fun to extroverts, but the more introverted prospects may feel totally stressed in these situations, and sometimes those are the candidates you value most.

— Richard Fong, ProcessingCard.com

6. Display Positive Body Language

To help make candidates feel more at ease, the interviewer should pay attention to their body language. Even if it seems obvious, don’t forget to smile and maintain eye contact. Don’t sit with your arms crossed in a way that makes you appear standoffish or judgmental. Remember that around 93% of communication is nonverbal, and you don’t want to send subliminal messages of discontent.

— Benjamin Rojas, All in One SEO

7. Lead With a Human-First Approach

It’s critical for companies to lead with a human-first approach. Prioritize engaging the candidate with conversation unrelated to the workplace. Ask them about their interests and what they do with their time off. It’s important to make people feel seen and heard. Doing so communicates that you’re interested in them as a person, and that goes a long way toward openness and breaking the ice.

— Tyler Quiel, Giggster

8. Make the Environment Accommodating

In the spirit of supporting accessibility, one thing you can do is reach out to the candidate before the interview to find out if they need any accommodations. Make sure that you’re in a comfortable room, keep water at hand, and just create a pleasant environment to make a difference in how the interview goes.

— Blair Williams, MemberPress

9. Be Personable and Friendly

To make candidates more comfortable during the interview process, it’s important to be personable. Coming off as intimidating leaves them with a bad impression and certainly won’t help them feel at ease to properly answer your questions or be themselves. To set the scene for a smooth interview, be friendly. You can ask them if they need something to drink or tell a personal anecdote.

— Stephanie Wells, Formidable Forms

10. Encourage Questions

The best way to put potential candidates at ease is to let them know that it’s okay to ask questions. I actively encourage candidates to stop me at any point if they have a question about our company or their role. In my experience, this leads to candidates feeling like they have a good understanding of what we do and how they will fit into the picture.

— John Brackett, Smash Balloon LLC

11. Talk About Subjects Other Than Their Resume

In my experience, interviews feel more easygoing when you avoid talking about the resume. Although this is essential when picking interviewees, it’s more effective to structure the interview around other subjects, such as any interesting facts about the interviewee or hypothetical scenarios that relate to the job position.

— Bryce Welker, Beat The CPA

12. Praise Their Work

It can help a candidate feel more comfortable and open up if you offer them a word of praise. When you go through their resume and portfolio, you’ll likely come across interesting work that the candidate did. By praising it, you show that you’ve paid attention and you’ll instantly build a positive impression of your company.

— Syed Balkhi, WPBeginner

13. Show Them What You’re Working On

You can make your candidates feel more at ease by showing them some of the projects your team is currently working on. When they can see what they will be doing if they accept your job offer, they can make an informed decision about whether your job is right for them.

— John Turner, SeedProd LLC


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