When we think of job interviews, we tend to conjure up an image of a candidate eager to make a good impression – and emphasise their skills, abilities and achievements in a high-pressured environment.
But many of us tend to forget a job interview is actually a two-way street. While it’s a chance for a candidate to impress an employer, it’s also an opportunity for a company to hire someone well-qualified, who may well have other job offers.
With this in mind, it’s important for an employer to make a good impression when conducting a job interview – to avoid losing out on skilled workers.
“As an employer, the reason for impressing candidates at the interview stage is simple. You want the best people working in your business,” says Jolene Foley, HR manager at Vouchercloud.
“Today, hiring managers aren’t in the position to pick and choose the candidate – especially in niche roles. Job seekers now get to choose between a range of companies with competitive offers. Turning a candidate off at the interview is a surefire way to send talented people straight to your competition.”
Remember that it’s not just the candidate’s job to impress you, Foley adds. “It’s your job to make the candidate feel welcome, appreciated, and that your company is one of the best around.
In addition, an interview is also likely to be the first impression a job applicant has of a business.
“Sure, they may look it up online and read some reviews, but ultimately it is the first time they enter the building and interact with those conducting the interview when they will be able to form a lasting impression of the company,” says Kate Palmer, associate director of advisory at the HR and employment law firm Peninsula.
While the company is judging the candidate, they are also, in turn, being judged. It’s important to behave professionally, which means no snide remarks about your boss or negative comments about other employees or candidates. Even if meant as a joke, it can indicate a toxic environment that may well put off potential employees.
“The applicant will be observing company culture, alongside its professionalism, to decide whether this is the place they want to work if they were successful in their interview. In short, getting the interview process right can be crucial to securing the candidate that a company wants,” Palmer says.
Here are some essential tips to impress a candidate and ensure a fair, impartial hiring process.
There’s nothing that says unprofessional like being unprepared for an interview. While it’s good to encourage a relaxed atmosphere, it’s still important to know what you want to ask to avoid wasting the candidate’s time.
“My best tip for employers looking to impress candidates is this: be respectful of the time a candidate is investing in your hiring process,” Foley says. “Don’t just look at their CV when you get into the room. Do your research ahead of time, and ask relevant questions that prove you’ve done your research.”
Palmer says a list of questions should be created before the interview that are based on the particular job role and documents such as the job description or person specification.
“Each candidate must be asked the same questions to give them equal opportunity and questions related to protected characteristics should be avoided entirely,” she says. “Consistency and fairness across all interviews is a must to ensure applicants are not placed at a disadvantage in comparison to others.”
Ask if any reasonable adjustments need to be made
Interviewing employers are under a legal duty to make reasonable adjustments to remove any barriers disabled candidates may face, Palmer explains.
Therefore, it’s a good idea to ask interviewees whether they need any adjustments making before the interviews start to allow these to be put in place. “Typical adjustments might be to change the location of the interview room, amend the timing of the interview or change the format of any recruitment tests used to assess the candidate,” she adds.
Ensure the company seems welcoming
Being interviewed is a nerve-wracking process, even for the most experienced professionals. It’s important to make sure candidates are welcomed warmly to a company and to avoid keeping them waiting for a long time, which may suggest a lack of organisation.
“Prior to the interview, make sure that the candidate is given clear instructions on where to go and, if necessary, any preparations that they should do beforehand,” Palmer says.
Sell the company
Finally, it’s important to make sure the candidate is aware of any perks associated with the company. While they will be trying to impress you with their experience and skills, it may be that they have other job offers on the table or interviews to attend – so you want to encourage them to take your job, if they are the right fit.
“Talk about social events, pay benefits or other opportunities that the business offers, such as training and development, that may serve to sway their decision,” Palmer says.
“Forward-thinking businesses that are willing to adapt to the needs of a modern workforce are more likely to be successful both in attracting skilled individuals and keeping them.”