how to elevate job interview into a great connection with the applicant

We’ve all been to those interviews; you know the ones that seem more like an interrogation than a conversation. As a candidate, you leave not knowing where you stand and as a Recruiter this is the last thing we want you to experience. Our aim is always to try and transform an interview into a genuine connection. The following tips aim to help you leave a lasting and positive impression.

Setting the Stage: Creating a Welcoming Atmosphere

First impressions matter, and they begin the moment a candidate steps through the (virtual or physical) door. Establishing a warm and welcoming environment sets the tone for the entire interview. A friendly greeting and a couple of disarming questions about their day/weekend can go a long way to start the conversation.

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Beyond the Script: Crafting Meaningful Questions

Sure, every interview has its checklist of standard questions, but what really matters are the ones that truly reveal a candidate’s character and values. Instead of stopping at the basics, delve into questions that invite personal anecdotes and reflections. This not only provides a more authentic glimpse into the candidate but also turns the interview into a shared journey.

Active Listening: The Unsung Hero of Connection

Active listening is critical to not only a successful interview but in establishing good rapport. Take the time to truly absorb what the candidate is saying. Respond thoughtfully, ask follow-up questions, and show genuine interest in their experiences. This not only fosters a connection but also communicates that their words are valued, and you want to hear more about what they are saying.

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The Power of Transparency: Sharing Company Culture and Values

An interview is a two-way street. While you’re evaluating the candidate, they are also evaluating you and your company. Take the opportunity to share insights into the company culture, values, and team dynamics. Transparency breeds trust and helps candidates see you as a real person and not just someone they are meeting with to get a job.

Incorporating Real-World Scenarios: Moving Beyond Hypotheticals

To truly gauge a candidate’s capabilities, consider introducing real-world scenarios or challenges they might encounter in the role. This not only tests their problem-solving skills but also provides a tangible connection between the interview and the practical aspects of the job. As a bonus, it will definitely keep them more engaged than just following a script of prepared simple questions.

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Feedback That Builds Trust: Constructive Criticism with Care

No interview is perfect, but feedback is an opportunity for growth—for both recruiters and candidates. Provide constructive criticism with empathy and kindness. Tell them where they went wrong and most importantly, how they can improve so that they will do better next time! This not only helps candidates improve but also reinforces the notion that your organisation values continuous development.

Closing the Loop: Leaving a Lasting Impression

As the interview draws to a close, make sure to express appreciation for the candidate’s time and insights. Reinforce the connection by summarising key points and outlining the next steps. And please – if you tell them you will follow up by x date, make sure you do!

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Final Thoughts: Turning Interviews into Relationships

The most important thing is to remember that an interview is not just a checkpoint in your list of steps to filling a job — it’s an opportunity to forge a connection that extends beyond the hiring process. By focusing on creating a positive, meaningful experience, recruiters have the power to turn interviews into relationships, laying the foundation for a successful and collaborative future.

Rutherford Kennedy

Rutherford joined the team at Optimum in September 2022 with a background in law and customer service. His strength lies in being able to listen, identify and fully understand his client’s needs, and then deliver a timely and effective solution. Rutherford loves talking to people, understanding what drives them and is passionate about finding the right role that they will not only enjoy, but thrive in.

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