Editor’s Note: This is a guest post written by copywriter and editor Charles A. Walsh. His opinions are his own.
As a candidate, I can’t tell you how many interviews I’ve attended where the vibe threw me off completely. Walls a sterile white. The ambiance: a noisy fan and my pulsating heart. The hiring manager takes no time to get acquainted, grabbing the interview by the who-ha and asking the most vague and difficult question of all …
“So tell me a little about yourself.”
I bombed each question.
Yet, I’ve also been on a handful of interviews that took a lighter approach. The interview began with non-job related questions. The setting had personality. We took a moment to bond before we began talking about the position, and I was able to better discuss my qualifications because I was more comfortable.
As hiring managers, it’s incredibly important to provide a comfortable interview environment for your guests, since there is no doubt that candidate comfort leads to better interview results.
So how do you do it?
Here’s a list of 4 tactics that I know helped put me at ease while undergoing the interview process.
Stop asking “tell me a little about yourself.” It reminds me of the, “So what do you want to do with your life?,” conversations I had in college with distant relatives. Do I start with personal information? Job related answers? Life goals?
It’s a loaded question.
Instead, begin the interview with non-job related questions like, “What’s your favorite movie? Tell me your favorite joke. What hobbies do you have outside of work?” These questions will help take some pressure off your candidate. It also helps give you an idea of their personality, installs a sense of intimacy between you and your possible hire, and lets you see if their lifestyle fits into your corporate culture. Plus, there are tons of ways you could tie their answers into questions about the job if you’re feeling creative.
As previously mentioned on this blog, hiring is a lot like dating.
You wouldn’t take a first date to McDonald’s, right? Please take the same considerations while conducting your candidate interviews.
For instance, I once had a Skype interview for a job overseas. When we connected, the hiring manager was at an outdoor bar in Germany sipping a mixed drink. Call it unprofessional, but the aesthetic of the brick wall and conversational atmosphere really helped me open up. I’m certainly not suggesting you to take your candidates to the local pub and go shot for shot. But a comfortable setting will go along way.
This may sound like hippy-dippy nonsense, but chanting a few OMs before an interview even for just 5 minutes will help flush out your work day stress and leave you in a good mental state for your interview. Still skeptical? Harvard backs mediation as a genuine method of reducing stress and anxiety. Assistant professor Ronald Segal of Harvard Medical even has free meditation tutorials on his website mindfulness-solution.com. Personally, my go-to source for a short meditation is YouTube. There are tons of videos that provide 5-minute guided meditations to walk you through the process.
The attitude we reflect outwards makes a huge impact on those around us and their moods. If I go around grumpy faced or screaming all day long about how I need to hire someone by tomorrow and how everything sucks, I’m going to piss off a lot of people. Vice versa. If I’m smiling, complimenting and basically just promoting a generally positive attitude, in theory my coworkers will absorb and reflect the positive sentiment.
So how does smiling affect the interview process?
It might sound a bit like a cliché, but smiling is literally contagious. In her article There’s Magic in Your Smile, Sarah Stevenson explains how when we smile, our bodies release feel-good endorphins, it makes us more attractive, and even influences those around us to join in. So everytime you show a genuine smile to your candidate, “their brain coaxes them to return the favor. You are creating a symbiotic relationship that allows both of you to release feel good chemicals in your brain, activate reward centers, and lower stress levels …”
If you smile in the interview, you and your candidate will feel more at ease.
It’s simple. Just smile.
So there you have it! 4 easy life hacks for optimizing your interview process. Of course, comfort isn’t everything. Spotting good talent is your priority, but providing top-notch talent with a quality experience will only benefit your results.
Do you have any suggestions, tricks, or tips for getting better interview results?
Charles A. Walsh is a copywriter with an editorial background. In his spare time he goes on songwriting and canoeing adventures. Check out Charles’ blog any time.
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