Candidates are told time and time again to prepare for the interview - know your CV, research the business, practice commonly asked questions, etc.. - but what about the interviewer? It's staggering how often business owners will 'wing-it' and read a CV for the first time whilst the candidate is in front of them. Preparing for the interview and understanding who the candidate is before you've even met them means you can confidently ask the right questions, extract the right information and accurately make an informed decision. Recruitment process aside, it's also a sign of respect and professionalism. The candidate has dedicated significant time and effort to preparing for the interview, and in return, so should you.
2) Make the Candidate Comfortable
Interviews can be incredibly nerve-racking for the candidate, and a nervous interviewee is not going to effectively uncover the valuable information you're looking to attain. Accommodate the candidate as much as you can and do your bit to relax the situation. A good place to start is to introduce the candidate to the rest of the team, walk them around your business, or offer them a cup of coffee or a glass of water. This way, the interaction won't feel like an interrogation right from the get-go and your candidate will feel far more at ease.
3) Introduce Yourself, Your Role, and The Role On Offer
At the start of each interview, take the lead and explain who you are, what your role in the organisation is and what you're looking for in the successful candidate for the role on offer. This helps the interviewee view you more personally and as someone who they can open up to. This initial contextualisation can help the candidate assess the situation and gauge the best answers to your questions. As candidates stress levels are at a peak upon the initiation of the interview, transferring of ownership the much dreaded 'tell me about yourself' first question will help set the candidate at ease.
4) Be Conversational
Remember that interviews are a two-way street. Although you'll be leading the conversation and probing for the information you need, breaking away from a strict interview protocol and building a more fluid, tangential interview style will provide you with more honest insights into the candidate's skills, personality and work ethic. Striking a balance between professional yet approachable will help build rapport and will also encourage the applicant to voice any questions they themselves have for you; their questions, in this situation, are just as important as yours. A clever way to spur this conversational tone is to remove the interview from your regular workspace, for example, to a quiet nearby cafe. You'll be more relaxed and they'll be more at ease - a win-win for both of you!
5) Embrace Silence
Sitting in silence can be awkward, sure, but when this happens in an interview do not try and fill the empty space with continual chat. Moments of silence give the candidate the chance to reflect on their answers, add anything more they'd like to tell you, or even ask you a question. If you remain quiet, they'll feel obliged to fill the space, and often the information they tell you in this context is some of the most valuable.
6) Check your Own Body Language
We know that over 50% of what we take from a conversation comes from non-verbal cues (i.e. body language). Before you make judgements on candidates level of eye contact, stance, expressions or tone of voice, check the way in which you're communicating with them. Be open, emotive and friendly; unless you're reciprocally welcoming to them, it can be incredibly hard for them to maintain positive non-verbals.
7) Give Feedback
After the formal interview has ended, give the candidate feedback. Today's young people crave feedback and grow via affirmations of their skills and constructive critiques of what they need to improve on. Regardless of the interview outcome, always follow up on candidates who you interviewed for the role and let them know the result. Again, it's a sign of respect for the person, but you're also doing your bit in helping maintain their momentum in finding a way into the workforce.