Guest blog from Terkel.io
From evaluating people with assessments to involving senior management in the discussion, here are 10 answers to the question, “Can you share any unique tips for creating a positive interview experience that job candidates will enjoy?”
- Give a Tour
- Hold a Brainstorming Session
- Be Honest About Pros and Cons
- Share Behavioral Assessment Results
- Warm Up With a Whimsical, Personal Story
- Let Them Ask Questions First
- Ask Applicants to Brand Themselves
- Create a Relaxed Environment and Incorporate Case Studies
- Break the Ice With Something Unusual
- Introduce the Candidate to Senior Management
Give a Tour
I have done a lot of interviews in my last 15 years in business. For the past five years, I have been conducting an initial 10-minute interview, then asking if the candidate would like a tour of the building.
My employees know that if a candidate gets a tour, they are on the next level of consideration. The candidates seem to really enjoy walking around and seeing the equipment and work environment. Breaking up the interview process with a tour in the middle is a great way to make it less formal, and the candidates all seem to enjoy seeing their potential new workplace.
Hold a Brainstorming Session
At our firm, we infuse our interview sessions with a brainstorming round. And there’s no denying that these quick interactions with our candidates sometimes prove more insightful than the entire interview.
The thing about brainstorming is that it has everyone jumping in with high levels of enthusiasm. This helps our candidates let go of their anxiety and enables them to zero in on nothing else but sharing their ideas. Also, when candidates finally let go of their inhibitions, it allows us panelists a closer peek into the unique traits and thinking abilities of these candidates.
Overall, the experience turns out to be enjoyable, allowing our interviewees to take part wholeheartedly in a no-holds-barred discussion.
Be Honest About Pros and Cons
Most interviewers try to act like their company has it all together, but a powerful way to create a positive interview experience is to be honest about the pros and cons. If you give candidates a realistic understanding of the company, there will be a deeper sense of trust and alignment.
They know not everything will be perfect in your company, so being vulnerable about some cons will set them at ease. Of course, you don’t want to air all the dirty laundry, but a realistic idea of what they might experience at work has helped me build successful relationships with the candidates I’ve liked best.
Share Behavioral Assessment Results
Internally, we implement DISC and Driving Forces behavioral assessments as part of our interview process for final, internal candidates. These assessments evaluate a candidate’s communication style and motivators, and they receive their assessment results before the interview.
It helps them understand their styles and motivators before the interview, and it enhances the conversation we can have with them in their final interview. And we don’t use it as elimination criteria, but as a basis for better rapport building and communication and higher quality interview questions — and responses from the candidate.
Even if we’re unable to offer the person a role, they’ve left the interview with concrete information (and a 65+ page report) that has helped them learn more about themselves.
Warm Up With a Whimsical, Personal Story
The best sales pitches come from those who know how to disarm a potential customer right out of the gate. Salespeople often call it a “warmup.” Get the customer to relax and forget that you’re there to convince them to buy something from you and then transition into business talk. Win their trust and establish a rapport.
I try to take that same approach as a job candidate. In almost every case, the candidate is nervous — and nervous people move their lips faster than their brain processes thoughts. Help them relax by pulling something out of their resume or cover letter that can turn into a casual conversation.
Did they use to work in a city less than an hour from your hometown? Kick off the conversation by asking them what their favorite restaurants were or favorite places to go. Find a common thread — and show them you’re an amiable person. That will relax them before you pivot to discussions about the job opening.
Let Them Ask Questions First
What really works for me is that I give them the opportunity to ask questions first. It allows them to relax, as they are in control for a bit. It also gives them information. But the best thing about it is that it gives me plenty of information just by solving their questions.
It tells me who is listening, as some of them start just speaking about themselves. Some others don’t even know what the role is for or didn’t do their homework, and some others are wonderful and come with a pile of questions, so we have to reschedule for me to ask mine. It is time consuming, but it has been a great and easy tool for me!
Ask Applicants to Brand Themselves
In the marketing sector, branding is everything. And so, when I’m interviewing a candidate for a PR or advertising position, I like to ask them to brand themselves.
No, I don’t make them design a logo or website on the spot — rather, I tell them to present themselves the way they would a product or service in a preliminary project meeting. Sell me yourself. Not only is this a fun way to think about the interview process, but it also allows me to quickly get to the heart of what each applicant offers.
Suddenly, that polished resume seems dry and uninteresting, and candidates must think on their feet to articulate what sets them apart from others aiming for the same position.
Create a Relaxed Environment and Incorporate Case Studies
Create a comfortable environment for the interviewee by ensuring they have enough space, good lighting, and a comfortable chair. Start the interview by building rapport and establishing a friendly atmosphere by having small talk and making them feel at ease. Show genuine interest in their background and experiences, and allow enough time for them to answer questions thoroughly. Remember that the interview experience should be positive for both the interviewer and the interviewee.
One unique approach to the interview process that job candidates seem to enjoy is incorporating a case study or project assignment as part of the interview process. This allows the candidate to showcase their skills and creativity by tackling a real-life scenario relevant to the job they are applying for. This method also provides the interviewer with a hands-on demonstration of the candidate’s problem-solving and decision-making abilities, which can give a much better understanding of their capabilities.
Break the Ice With Something Unusual
As macabre as it sounds, I ask candidates what skill or talent they would bring to a zombie-apocalyptic world. At first, folks are shocked, but then they loosen up and offer insights into their creativity, level of humor, and hidden skills, not to mention survival instincts.
I am not looking for any specific answer; rather, I’m more interested in reactions and learning more about other aspects of the person who may or may not create a suitable company culture fit.
I have asked this question of every final-round candidate, and it invariably leads to a fun discussion that puts the applicant at ease and gives them a good glimpse of our company culture for their decision-making as well.
Introduce the Candidate to Senior Management
When interviewing candidates, we always try to introduce each candidate to the most senior member of staff available (ideally me). We do this regardless of seniority or candidate volume.
Nothing shows respect for a candidate’s time and effort quite like an introduction to the founder, highlighting that we take their application seriously. It doesn’t take much effort to provide a simple, “Hello, my name is X, thank you for coming down today,” but it can make all the difference.
Often, candidates are made to feel like interview fodder, just more meat for the grinder rather than serious applicants with the skills, traits, and abilities the organization requires. By making a brief introduction to someone particularly senior, we send a powerful message to the candidate, letting them know we are strongly considering their application, and that senior management takes an active interest in recruitment at all levels.