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Break Through to Candidates During Interviews

Nov 19, 2020 | 7m

Gain Actionable Insights Into:

  • Giving every candidate the chance to showcase their abilities in an authentic way
  • Sara’s tips for getting candidates to move past scripted responses
  • Common mistakes interviewers make and what to do instead

Structuring the Interview Process

When you’re interviewing someone for a position in your company, you’re looking for someone who has the skills needed to tackle the challenges of the job. However, the candidates you interview will likely have come prepared with a set of responses they think will land them the job but may not be a genuine reflection of their abilities. If you’re looking to get authentic responses from your candidates, you’ll have to structure your interview process in such a way that encourages candidates to have a real conversation with you,  that goes beyond rehearsed responses. 

If a candidate can answer a question very quickly, they’ve most likely rehearsed their response. And that isn’t necessarily a bad thing! Most people will have prepared for standard interview questions such as, “walk me through your CV,” and indeed it would be concerning if they don’t seem prepared to answer these typical questions. So while you should dig deeper in order to get to their authentic selves, you should expect a rehearsed response from most candidates for many initial prompts. It shows that they care about the role and have done the work to showcase their various experiences in the best light. 

A nervous candidate won’t be able to show their best selves. One way to reduce nervousness is to set expectations for your time together. I start interviews by introducing myself. I then explain the flow of the process, including the approximate number of questions I’ll be asking, how long the interview will last, and if there will be time for them to ask questions afterwards. If I’ll be taking notes I let the candidate know, especially if it’s a virtual interview and I’ll be typing. At this point I pause and ask the candidate if they have any questions before  the interview. By giving candidates an understanding of what they can expect, you will naturally make them feel more comfortable. 

To warm a candidate up, I tend to begin with a question that they’ll likely have prepared for, such as “why are you interested in this role”. Since they’ll be able to respond with relative ease, you’re setting them up to proceed through the interview with confidence. Diving straight into a complex question might make a candidate more nervous and less likely to bring their best to the table. 

Once you’ve worked through one or two basic questions with the candidate feeling confident, you can move into different types of questions that allow you to dig deeper into their professional experiences. 

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