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Getting candidates out of “interview mode”

Interviews are a daunting experience for candidates and interviewers alike but getting the relationship right is often tricky.

With the workforce being a busy environment, many interviewers want to quickly gauge that the person they are interviewing is capable of doing the job on offer.

As a result of this, the temptation may be to start the interview with highly technical questions used to test that the candidate has the required knowledge and suitability for the role they are applying for; although this hard-hitting approach may increase the interviewee’s nervousness.

Alison Green, a contributor on, suggests that candidates have an “interview mode” that they go into when they step foot in an interview room but that they can leave this behind once they are allowed to relax and be themselves.

Why is it important to allow candidates to relax?

James Caan on states that “If someone’s nervous it might be too easy to overlook their real talent or potential” and he goes as far as to recommend starting the interview with 5 minutes of small talk; asking questions such as:

  • “Did you have a good journey?”
  • “Would you like a drink?”
  • “Could you tell me about your hobbies and achievements?”

Alison also says, “You’ll also generally have better interviews if the interviewer feels like they’re talking to a colleague rather than to a nervous job candidate who’s focused on impressing” – a lot of time will be spent working together, so it is important to establish a positive relationship from the outset.

How can Simply Personnel help?

Nerves can build up even before a candidate reaches the interview, especially if they are unsure about where they need to go, who will be conducting the interview and what will be expected of them.

With a dedicated Recruitment Manager module, Simply Personnel can help you send correspondence to candidates automatically in preparation for the interview.

Documentation may include information such as:

  • What format will the interview take?
  • How to get to the interview location
  • Brief overview of the interviewer(s)

By starting the interview process with effective communication, you can ease the candidate’s nerves from the outset.

Candidates often spend hours preparing for interviews, so doing everything you can to assist them in presenting themselves well will only pay dividends when it comes to making a decision about who to employ.