The Employer Engagement Guide: 7 Ways to Put Candidates at Ease During an Interview

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Ryan Kaye

- May 9th, 2022
Employer Hub

It’s time for Part Two of our Employer/Employee Engagement Guide! Don’t do the Spanish Inquisition at a job interview. Instead, use our seven tricks to put candidates at ease…

How to put candidates at ease during interview

So, you wrote an efficient, standout job advert that was enough to grab the attention of numerous candidates. And now you’ve selected 10 high-calibre candidates for the interview stage. Great!

Job interviews are terrifying. They’re one of life’s most stressful experiences and are just as challenging for the candidate as they are for the hiring manager. When a candidate’s anxious, they won’t show off their best self. As a result, making an informed decision about them is trickier.

Sure, there’ll be a time when you want to mount the pressure during the interview. That said, it’s better to ensure the applicant is as comfortable as possible.

In light of these, we’ve compiled seven top tips on how to put your candidates at ease during an interview.

1. Location is everything 

how to put someone at ease in a job interview

One sure-fire way to make your candidate feel comfortable is choosing where to hold your interview. Avoid selecting a damp, dark, broom-cupboard-like room in the smelliest part of the building. Not only will this make your candidate want to run for the hills, but it also makes you, as an employer, look as if you don’t care about the comfort of the candidate.

So, ensure the interview room has plenty of light flooding in, not so much that it blinds the interviewee or flickers in their face, but just enough so the natural light comes through the window.

Many interviewers these days prefer hosting interviews in a local eatery to take the edge off the interviewing process. Although, the downside is the candidate will feel too relaxed and casual. So, tread carefully if you choose this path and determine ahead of time whether a café is appropriate for the position you’re looking to fill.

2. Welcome them appropriately 

The last thing your candidate needs is to be left hanging around in a deserted reception room or, even worse, outside. If your company has a reception area, this isn’t as much of an issue, that is, of course, unless your receptionist’s about as friendly as Victor Meldrew.

The most important thing you can do is make sure your candidate’s welcomed by a jovial staff member. As soon as the interviewee knows they’ll be looked after, the more comfortable they’ll feel.

Better yet, greet the candidate yourself, even if this means they take a seat for a couple of minutes before the interview begins. All of this creates a calming atmosphere, one that helps soothe their worries.

3. A glass of water is a godsend

Offering the interviewee a drink goes a long way. Who enjoys speaking with a dry throat and lips?

A simple glass of water will help ease those inevitable pre-interview symptoms and also give them a second during the interview to take a few minutes to refocus when you ask them a tricky question.

4. Talk about the company and the position 

job interviewing

Once the interview begins, and before you start question-firing, pause to introduce your business, its background, and story. Do this before diving into the job role and its context in the company.

Make sure it’s cheerful, pleasant, and succinct.

Where possible, show them that you, as an employer, care about your staff members. Mention some of the company perks such as flexible working options or bonuses. And don’t chatter away about 20-hour days and demanding conditions that would make even the kindliest of candidates head for the exit sign.

Highlight the great things about working at your company. Talk about how friendly your business is and be sure to give them a warm welcome.

5. Don’t confuse them

Remember: keep things light and clear. Nothing worries a candidate more than feeling utterly bewildered.

Avoid asking them tricky, intricate questions – they’ll only struggle with answers and feel more and more uncomfortable.

What’s more, it can take them ages to recuperate from an attack of nerves – they’re unlikely to answer your string of questions very well. Consequently, this leaves you feeling negative about them, which isn’t fair.

We advise keeping your questions precise, concise, and clear. Once you’ve selected who to interview, why not put together a list of questions beforehand?

6. Avoid interrogation-style questions 

Job interviews trigger a lot of deep-seated fear among candidates. So, avoid making this vision a reality by taking on a Spanish Inquisition-like presence.

Here are a few pointers to consider before the interview:

  • Keep the interview as relaxed as you can.
  • Avoid firing a string of questions at the candidate.
  • Keep the entire process friendly.

In our opinion, hurling ton of questions at an interviewee is almost like an interrogation – it’ll only add to their already high-stress levels.

7. Save more challenging questions for the end

job interview employer

Each applicant will have their own stumbling block. With a bit of luck, you’ll spot it throughout the questioning process.

There may be a question that you need to ask or a serious problem that needs sorting out.

However, if you feel this could bring about problems, don’t ask it until the end. Avoid firing a question at the candidate the moment you notice a problem, as doing so could spoil the whole interview and cause the applicant to feel stressed.

The outcome? A panicky applicant and a (more often than not) pitiable performance.

Go with your intuition – if you feel it’s a big problem, and want to fix things there and then, go ahead. But be mindful that this could cast a shadow over the whole course of the interview.

Final thoughts

It’s up to you how you approach your interviews. However, we believe you’ll get a whole lot more out of your interview when the candidate’s at ease. That said, you may be someone who prefers seeing how interviewees react under pressure.

Other points to consider when it comes to deciding how to conduct your interview include:

  • What position you’re recruiting for (if it’s high pressured, it may be fundamental to see how they operate under pressure).
  • What interview stage it is (it’s better to ramp up the pressure at final-stage interviews).
  • The superiority of the position you’re seeking.

We advise making a decision and determining what’s right on the whole. Next, evaluate and explore whether or not this approach worked and adjust accordingly for future interviews.