Job interviews are a time-tested way to evaluate the right candidates to add to your team. They can also be stressful for both the person hiring and for the candidate being interviewed, especially if you have never interviewed someone before — how will you know if this person has a future on your team in only a few short moments? How do you know if you are making the right decision?
The first step is simple: just relax a little. The interview is just one step in the hiring process, not the be-all and end-all. Interviews work best for evaluating whether a person’s behavior will fit with yours and the culture of your team. You will get the best read on your candidate if you both are feeling natural and interacting freely as opposed to being stiff and stuffy. Interviews exist so you can pick up on red flags and highlight behavioral strengths as much as they do as a place to talk about compensation and qualifications.
So how do you stay relaxed in an interview? Come prepared with these tips:
• Be honest in the job description.
You should be upfront about the duties, responsibilities and role of the position you are looking to fill if you are going to get someone who will actually follow through with the job. Nobody wants a wake-up call on their first day when they get to work and find it was nothing like how it was described. It does not have to be too long-winded, just enough to give someone an idea of where they could find themselves from day one through year one. This will save you time by priming the candidates to the essence of your team before they even come to the interview.
• Send a friendly reminder email.
Give them the courtesy of an email reminding them of the date and time of their interview. You should also include the names and titles of any team members joining for your interview, plus the job title of the position being filled. This establishes trust and communication as well as helping both parties relax leading up to your meeting.
• Showcase the best sides of your personality.
You will not be the only one doing some evaluation during the interview — the candidate will also be judging whether you and your team will be a good fit for them. Be kind, smile, and be the best self you can be. This conversation will point the candidate to how the two of you might work together day-to-day.
Interviews exist so you can pick up on red flags and highlight behavioral strengths as much as they do as a place to talk about compensation and qualifications.
• Leave room for their questions.
You can sometimes learn more about how somebody’s brain works from the questions they are asking than the answers they provide to your own questions. Giving them time to ask their own questions will also help them relax by balancing power between the two of you as opposed to a traditional interview in which you would hold all the cards.
• Cover the essentials.
While you want your conversation to remain natural, there are a few topics you always want to cover. If they do not come up seamlessly during the conversation, be sure to go over them before you leave. Emphasize the following:
° What it is the company does and its place within their industry.
° Your role in the business and hiring process
° The nature of the position being filled and why it exists.
° Why you are looking to fill the position.
° What a typical day will look like for an employee in that position.
° The hours and schedule involved.
° The training and onboarding process
Be upfront in your job description about the duties and responsibilities of the position you are looking to fill.
Consult Your Team and Make a Human Connection
The interview can help you get a sense of what your dynamic would look like with each candidate; however, the decision of whether or not to have a candidate join your team does not need to lie solely on the interview. A candidate who is tripping over their words a little does not necessarily mean that they would be unfit for the job, just as someone who gives a spotless interview might not give such a stellar performance while working with your particular team.
A lot of this decision-making involves your own instincts, which can be hard to narrow down and put into words. Including some other team members in the interview process can help you make a more balanced decision. Having more ears in the room will help you share responsibility and allows the other members of your team to evaluate whether they would thrive with each candidate as well.
Remember that people will make mistakes and their nerves may get in their way. You are welcome to take these factors into account when making your decision, but it is most important to make a human connection with your candidate in the process. This will be the best indicator as to whether or not they will actually work well with your team and find their place in your business.
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