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4 ways to help your candidates relax at interview

Posted on 20/01/2017 by Jo Hodge


Every employee has to go through the interview process at one point or another. An interview should be both an opportunity for the applicant to sell themselves but also to get a greater feel for your organisation, the job role and you. Whilst the candidate may have all the necessary skills and relevant experience on paper, their nerves may prevent them from being able to demonstrate this verbally.

As an interviewee, it is easy to misinterpret nervous, unconfident candidates as incompetent, but this is not always the case. Being an effective speaker may not be everyone’s strength, but this doesn’t mean they’re not qualified for the role. It is important not to be biased when you are interviewing candidates – you may automatically be drawn to the more confident, extroverted characters and subsequently rule out great candidates.

It is in your best interests to help your candidate feel as comfortable and relaxed as possible, because then they are more likely to perform to the best of their ability, and you will gain an unbiased opinion of them.

Here are our 4 top tips on helping your candidates relax at interview:

1. Give a friendly introduction

When you first greet your candidate, make friendly small talk. It will lighten-up the mood a little and they will feel more at ease immediately. For example discuss the weather or ask them if their journey was ok. Many employers think that ‘professionalism’ means being cool and unapproachable, when in fact this couldn’t be any further from the truth! It’s good to start the interview by introducing yourselves to the candidate – it will create a friendly atmosphere and give the candidate a chance to compose themselves and be mentally prepared.

2. Create a comfortable environment

Think about creating a comfortable environment for your candidate. Ensure that you’ve booked a suitable room that is the right temperature, size and where there is no noise or distraction. Always offer the candidate a glass of water or a hot drink. Sitting on either side of a corner, rather than opposite one another, can also make a candidate feel more comfortable.

3. Build a rapport

Sitting in an interview and having one or more expressionless faces staring back at you can be very intimidating for the candidate and could easily make them tense up. A smile and a sense of humour can help your candidate relax and open up. It can also be a symbol of encouragement and can give your candidate an indication that they’re on the right track.

Rather than having a rigid question-answer, question-answer process, why not input some of your own thoughts and turn the interview into more of a two-way conversation – this will lighten up the mood and encourage your interviewee to open up.

4. Give them the opportunity to ask questions

It’s all very well you asking them all the questions, but make sure you allow some time at the end for the candidate to ask questions, because this is a time for them to get to know you too, and for you to establish what really matters to them. They may have certain questions about the role, the organisation or may want to elaborate on some of their earlier answers – give them this chance. Remember this is also an opportunity for them to see whether the job and the work culture is right for them.

You can find further useful interview advice from TPP here:

10 interview questions you should ask your candidates

Why you should always give candidates feedback after an interview

Using Behavioural Interviewing

We also offer a variety of free seminars and recruitment advice to help you successfully manage your team, recruit the right candidates and much more. If you're interested in finding out how TPP can help you put together the perfect team, get in touch on 020 7198 6000 or