Learning & Development, Recruiting

How to Create a Positive Interview Experience for a Job Candidate

The first impression potential new employees will have of your office is your interview process. That’s why it’s so important to make an applicant’s experience a positive one. You’d hate to find someone you think would be perfect for the role, only for the person to turn you down based on a negative interview experience. You also want to ensure that the applicants are able to truly show the best version of themselves. That’s hard to do in a situation where they feel stressed out, nervous, or overly anxious. In order to get the best read on someone, the process should be smooth and streamlined.

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So how can you go about creating a positive interview experience for a job candidate? Take some time to think through your process and make any necessary changes. It helps to think about the interview in three stages: before, during, and after.

Before the Interview

First of all, how do job candidates know where to go? You may shrug and say that if they aren’t capable of Googling your office location, they aren’t a great fit for your company. But the more details you can provide, the better. Is there construction on the highway exit for your business, and if so, what route should they take instead? Where should they park? Where are the elevators? Will a receptionist be greeting them, or the person who’s interviewing them? Would you like them to wait in a conference room, or in the lobby? By providing all of this information, the interview candidate will feel comfortable walking in—they know exactly what they should be looking for.

You may also want to consider sending an itinerary for the interview. Particularly if there’s any kind of technical test, it’s a basic courtesy to let candidates know that ahead of time so they can be prepared as possible. Also, this is a great way to let the candidate know who will be interviewing them at what time. An above-and-beyond potential employee will check out the LinkedIn profile of those they’ll be speaking with and try to familiarize themselves with the various interviewers. It also takes away some of the awkwardness of a first meeting.

It’s also important that you do proper research on your end. Knowing basic facts about the interviewee, like where they went to college or where their previous place of employment was, will go a long way. You should have their resume printed out and in front of you so you can reference it when needed, but it shouldn’t be the first time you have eyes on it.

During the Interview

Making sure small details are in place, like the time you arrive and offering the opportunity a coffee or other beverage, may seem insignificant. But this job interview is probably the most important part of the candidate’s day, even if it’s just another meeting on your calendar. Show respect and ask as if you’re interested in being there and what they have to say. Seeming distracted or being late are subtle signs about your company culture that may rub the candidate the wrong way.

When you’re interviewing a potential candidate, your questions should be purposeful and thoughtful. They shouldn’t be a random list you found on Google or something you pull out of your brain on the fly. This is an important opportunity to learn about the candidate in front of you, so take some time to brainstorm questions that will really have an impact. You want to strike the right balance between being friendly and not leading someone on. If you’re overly chummy, the person may think they already have the job in the bag, which might not be the case. But you obviously want to give off a warm and friendly demeanor. Try to be respectful, kind, and interested without seeming like you’ve met your new best friend.

Before the job candidate leaves, ask if there’s anything you didn’t cover in the interview that you should be made aware of or that they’d like to share. This is a great opportunity for candidates to share out-of-the-box things about themselves that may help you get a better view of who they are and how they would fit in a role.

Lastly, consider giving candidates you’re serious about a brief tour of the office. Even if you’re unsure whether you’re going to hire them, it can be a good chance for people to get a grasp on your office culture. You want the job to be filled by someone who really wants to work for you, and that means making sure it’s a good fit for both the company and the candidate. It’s a two-way street. Giving them the opportunity to look around your office a bit will help them make that decision, should it come to that point.

Before the candidate leaves, let them know the timeline for when they should hear from you so that they aren’t left hanging.

After the Interview

Whether or not you decide to go with this particular candidate, feel free to provide a bit of feedback. You don’t need to be overly harsh or critical if you’re turning him or her down, but letting them know something like “the person we decided to go with had a little more experience, something we believe will be integral to the role” can help a person understand why things didn’t go their way. Also, never, ever ghost a candidate. This person took the time to prepare for an interview, show up, and give their all: they deserve to know the status of their application.

Finally, if you do end up hiring the person, ask for any feedback on the interview process. Someone who’s recently been through it is the best person to provide feedback on what worked or didn’t work. This can help you continuously improve your process to get more and more qualified people in the door and make hires you feel confident in.

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