As recruiters, interviewing candidates is an integral part of our jobs. Each time I conduct a job interview, I enter with one over-arching challenge: How do I understand a lifetime of work about a candidate in less than an hour?
The easy answer is, you can’t. So, the way I like to approach it is asking myself what I can do to learn as much about the candidate as possible within the one-hour time constraint I have. For me, the most effective way is to create an in-person interview structure that invites candidates to reveal as much about themselves, their experience, and their future as possible.
Advantages of Doing an In-Person Interview
You only get one first impression. While I always speak with a candidate on the phone to determine fit, the first face-to-face meeting is when you can start to build a rapport. A strong first impression is the first step in building trust.
Trust is crucial in the recruiter-candidate dynamic. For me, it’s easier to give the candidate a raw and authentic representation of myself in person, which enables me to earn their trust faster. One way that I do so is by sharing a bit about myself, both professionally and personally. The goal of an interview is to learn as much as I can about a candidate, and I’ve found that if I let them learn about me, they’re more likely to open up about themselves.
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See How a Candidate Interviews
In-person interviews allow me to get a fresh perspective on how a candidate will interview onsite with a hiring manager. A big part of your job as a recruiter is presenting your clients with a candidate who will excel in an interview. By deploying an in-person interview yourself, you can get a look at how the candidate will present to the client.
Everyone is in agreement that communication is important, but people often forget that body language is a critical component of communication. An in-person interview allows me to improve the overall interview by paying attention to body language, as well as notice anything in the candidate’s body language that needs to be pointed out before the interview with the client.
Tips for Making the Most of Your Next In-Person Interview
Alleviate Their Nerves
I start my interviews by making the candidate feel confident and proud of their background. Even the steeliest candidate is bound to have some anxiety about a job interview. If I can alleviate those nerves, it lets me gain access to them faster.
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Invite them to Talk
While it’s slightly cliché to say that interviews should be conversations, it’s true. Invite the candidate to talk. A resume and LinkedIn profile give me almost all the information that I need about a candidate’s skills, but that’s only a portion of the evaluation. To learn about their personality, I need to discover it in their own words. Without inviting them to talk, it’s hard to get a glimpse into who they are.
Find Out Where They Want to Go
Traditional interview structures tend to spend too much time asking a candidate about their history. When interviewing a candidate, I like to spend time asking them about their future. Why they left a previous employer is important, but so too is learning what to target for their future.
Be Transparent About the Process
Transparency is the key to building trust. One of the tougher challenges in recruiting is that sometimes, to no fault of the candidate, you simply don’t have a role for them. It may take a few months for the perfect fit to come along. By being transparent with the candidate about the process, you’ll have their trust when that role arrives.
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