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Tips for Creating a Positive Interview Environment

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by Jess Castner

When it’s time to hire, stress may be associated with both sides of the desk during an interview. Eager applicants anxiously ponder how to respond to even the most basic questions. Meanwhile, hiring managers hope they are asking the right questions to know if the applicant is a good fit. What can be the most frustrating is when a job candidate conducts a stellar interview and then disappoints on the job. Here are a few tips for creating a positive interview environment that really gives insight into an applicant’s future at your company:

  1. Put the candidate at ease. The interview atmosphere should reflect the job environment. Of course, you expect applicants to bring their A-game to an interview, but requiring them to perform in a way that is contrary to the actual work culture may be counter-productive. A rigid, formal interview for a job in a casual restaurant may not be appropriate. How an applicant performs in that environment allows you no insight into how they will fit into the actual job. Set a tone for a great interview that reflects the tone of the real work environment to avoid hiring a bad fit.

  2. Have interactive dialogue. Encourage the applicant to participate fully during the interview process. An applicant’s active curiosity could turn into full-blown passion for your vision once he or she is hired. An indication that an applicant is truly interested in helping your company reach its goals is that he or she takes initiative to learn about your company before and during the interview. Are they already a customer? Did they look at your website before coming in? Ask for insights and opinions that demonstrate real interest in your business, which can also improve the interview environment. Consider asking questions like “Have you ever eaten here before?” and “How was your service the last time you were here?”

  3. Remember: it’s all relevant.  An applicant’s hobbies, interests, and personal goals are a great way to break the ice. Of course you want to know what qualifies the applicant to work for your company, but his or her off-time matters, too!  It’s good to keep in mind how your new employee will fit in with your current workforce. Music tastes, college degree plans, and even movie preferences give insight into potential compatibility with your staff.

  4. Avoid brick wall questions.  Above all, ask questions that require the applicant to engage with you. Asking only yes/no questions will give you no more insight into employment potential than the candidate’s application does, and the interview environment is likely to suffer. Key words to lean on may be “Explain how…” and “Describe a situation…” These types of prompts allow the applicant to actually demonstrate skills listed on his or her resume. For example, a candidate who claims to be a “good communicator” should be able to explain or describe the way he or she solves problems, approaches processes, and responds to authority. These conversations will allow you to learn about specific, relevant work experience, as well as see the applicant’s special skills first-hand!

Getting the most out of interviews will ultimately allow you to get the most out of your workforce. These strategies will help you find the people you want to manage, and bringing on the right employees will reduce termination and turnover.

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