There are countless tips for candidates on how to conduct themselves during job interviews, but few tips for people sitting on the other side of the desk.
The number of candidates discussing bad interview experiences, online and elsewhere, appears to be on the increase. Their comments strongly suggest that recruiters and hiring managers could benefit from these reminders.
Good Manners Never Go Out of Style
Whether the vibe at your workplace is ultra casual or ultra conservative, the same standards of conduct apply.
Sitting at your desk, involved in a task, and barely looking up when a candidate walks in, is nothing short of rude. Presumably the interview has been scheduled and you are expecting to meet with this person. Be on time, and be prepared.
When the candidate enters the room, stand up and greet him or her, by name. When conducting business in the United States, it’s also customary to shake hands. In a casual workplace, you may think this is too formal. It’s not. Calling out “hey, Joe,” as you remain slouched in your chair, is too familiar for a first meeting.
Once you’ve said hello, ask the person to be seated and suggest where to sit, especially if there are multiple seating options. “Sit wherever you’d like” forces the candidate to make a choice and may lead to an awkward moment. By simply gesturing toward a chair, you provide the candidate with information and make him or her feel welcome.
Begin the interview with small talk or a simple question like, “Did you have any trouble finding our offices,” as opposed to immediately asking about the candidate’s background. This will help put the candidate at ease and establish that a conversation rather than an interrogation will take place.
Interview Environment Makes a Difference
Experts sometimes advise against interviewing across a desk; they say it creates a barrier or suggests that the person doing the interviewing has the power. As a result, recruiters and hiring managers may feel like they should sit next to the candidate while conducting the interview.
If you opt for this approach, do so with caution. Don’t sit beside a candidate on a sofa, for example, as it may be too close for comfort. It will also require the person to turn his or her neck to the side, rather than look at you straight on.
The environment where you interview a candidate should allow for a private conversation. If your workspace is a table in an open room or a small cubicle in a noisy cube farm, make sure a conference room or other quiet area is available so you can meet there.
Interviews that take place at a restaurant are an option, but again make sure the environment is conducive to conversation. A busy coffee shop, where strangers next to you are only inches away, may make the candidate reluctant to speak freely.
Remain Focused on the Conversation
Regardless of where you meet, remain focused on the conversation. This means you shouldn’t take calls or check your phone during the interview.
Some recruiters and hiring managers think putting a cell phone on vibrate solves the problem. But as job seekers have pointed out, a phone on vibrate remains a distraction, especially when the phone is on a desk or other hard surface.
The solution, of course, is to turn the phone off.
Do your best to limit other interruptions as well. Let your coworkers know you are unavailable for conversation, which should prevent anyone from dropping by. Ideally, the interview will take place in a room with a door. Close the door.
Candidate as Interviewer
Recruiters and hiring managers sometimes forget that the interview is not a one-sided experience.
The candidate is also evaluating your skills and abilities, your professionalism or lack thereof, and the information you share as he or she considers the company as a possible employer.
In other words, you too are being interviewed. Make sure you come across well. Remember, you represent the company and the candidate’s impression of the workplace starts with you.
|Paula Santonocito, Contributing Editor for Recruiting Daily Advisor, is a business journalist specializing in employment issues. She is the author of more than 1,000 articles on a wide range of human resource and career topics, with an emphasis on recruiting and hiring. Her articles have been featured in many global and domestic publications and information outlets, referenced in academic and legal publications as well as books, and translated into several languages.|