How to help your candidate relax in an interview

 
When considering a potential intern or apprentice, the interview process enables you to assess the candidate’s skills and interests as well as their personality. It can be a nerve-wracking experience for the applicant especially as candidates at this stage have had little or no experience of interviews in the past. If a candidate is extremely nervous, they may not perform to the best of their ability and it can make the process rather awkward for all involved.
 
Of course, you want your interviewee to perform well and by helping them to relax, you’ll be able to get a good idea of who they are and where their skills lie.
 
Here are five tips to ensure you get the best out of them:
 

1. Location

 
Try to choose an interview room that best represents your company. Interviewing in a cupboard sized store room will not make the best impression. If possible, book out a comfortable and good sized meeting room early, to ensure you have a quiet, appropriate space for your interview. Unless you plan to show the candidate around the organisation, this will be the only part of the business your applicant will see – so you’ll want to show the working environment in its best light. It might be worth considering a more informal setting; a quiet corner of the canteen or comfy sofa area in your organisation might feel more fitting especially when interviewing an intern or apprentice.
 

2. Friendly and approachable

 
Sometimes employers can come across rather cold in their efforts to show professionalism. Professional doesn’t need to equal unfriendly. Try to put the candidate at ease with your demeanour – this can be as simple as a genuine smile and offering to get them a drink.
 

3. A little introduction

 
A candidate will probably be at their most nervous at the very start of the interview. It may be helpful to ease them into the process gently by giving them a short introduction to the company, what you do there and the purpose of the internship or apprenticeship. They’ll probably know these details already, but this will help to open the interview in a non-confrontational way and give them a little breathing space to collect their thoughts.
 

4. Be clear

 
Make sure your questions are clear and well-phrased. Also, try to make sure that the interview is as jargon-free as possible to help avoid confusion. There may be particular terms and expressions that you use internally that won’t always translate externally. If a candidate appears baffled by a certain question, try to phrase it in a different way or give an example to ensure clarity.
 

5. Help them to shine

 
An interview shouldn’t be seen as an opportunity to intimidate or catch the candidate out. Instead, the employer should work with the candidate to help them show their best side. Try to start with the easier, more informal ‘get-to-know you’ talk to help the candidate relax. Make sure you do your preparation too so that you understand where they’re coming from and have relevant questions at the ready. Try to get your candidate excited about what they’re discussing and try to wheedle out the areas they’re passionate about.
 
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