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How to Prep a Candidate for an Interview

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There are myriad ways that a talented recruiter can help a strong candidate succeed. Perhaps one of the ways we don’t talk about enough — or in enough detail — is what goes into optimally prepping a candidate for the interview process.
How well you prepare candidates can make the difference between a good recruiter and a great one. This is especially true for anxious candidates, who may be worried about how many things can go wrong during a job interview. Prepping a nervous candidate for an interview can help them go the extra mile toward landing that dream job they deserve!

Tip #1: Help Them Stay Calm

This could be as simple as empowering the candidate by reminding them that they’re interviewing the company as much as the company is interviewing them.
Prompts might include:
  • Is this place a good fit for their professional style and development goals?
  • Is the company culture going to meet their needs?
  • Are the hiring managers able to provide them with enough transparency and candor?
  • Do the expectations associated with the job align with the salary range?
These are all important questions, and it can ease some of the candidate’s performance anxiety to realize that they’re as much an interviewer as they are an interviewee.

Tip #2: Build Up Their Confidence

Keeping a friendly tone and informative disposition functions to keep candidate morale high. Friendly interactions are reassuring, as the candidate experiences people reacting to them positively in social and professional settings; this helps them continue to expect positive outcomes, including with their interview.

Additionally, being well-informed about the company and the role will augment the candidate’s confidence, making them feel more at ease. This way, they’re most likely to come up with thoughtful answers on the spot.

Make sure you listen to your candidate if they’re expressing a lack of confidence about something in-particular. You can do this by offering them advice about the way they’re presenting themselves in the interview process.

Tip #3: Brief Them on the Interviewers

Giving your candidate information about their interviewers in advance is vital to the candidate putting their best foot forward. Your candidate should have some idea of:
  • Who the interviewer is
  • What role they have at the company
  • What their personality and expectations are like (to the best of your ability, of course)

Tip #4: Prepare Them to Answer Common Questions

Many places are moving toward Behavioral-Based Interviewing, where they ask the candidate to highlight past situations that display their skills, talents, and problem-solving abilities. This is also known as the STAR method.
Candidates should be prepared to:
  • Describe a situation
  • Explain what they were tasked with accomplishing
  • Talk about what action they took
  • Share the overall results
Essentially, you should be priming your candidates to take some of their most important qualities and turn them into anecdotes that show (rather than just tell) those qualities to their prospective employer.

Tip #5: Encourage Them to Ask Questions

Candidates should be wary of overloading a prospective employer with too many questions during the interview. We advise keeping it to three or fewer questions — but definitely make sure to ask some.
They should keep their questions geared toward the management’s expectations, the department culture, or the role itself.
  • What does success in this role look like to you?
  • What qualities do you think would be most important for someone who’s about to join your team?
  • What do you think is most challenging about this role?
Questions like these should provide some insights to the candidate about their prospective employer.

Tip #6: Follow Video-Interview Etiquette

Since many interviews are being held on a virtual hiring event platform these days, it’s helpful to offer your candidate a little refresher regarding basic professional-video-chat etiquette.
Remind candidates to confirm the time of their interview, including the time zone. An interview scheduled for 12pm EDT won’t work out very well if a candidate shows up at 12pm PDT.
When the interviewer and the candidate have both logged on to the call, it’s also a good idea for the candidate to smile and ask, “Can you see and hear me all right?” before getting started.
And of course: lighting, lighting, lighting. Remind the candidate that lighting and picture quality are important in making — and leaving — an impression. Job seekers might want to invest in a ring light and take some time to figure out the best positioning at home for their computer. People might not remember good lighting, but they’ll often remember bad lighting!

Going the Distance With Confidence

All of these techniques and strategy points can go a long way in helping your candidate feel confident and prepared by the time they are actively engaged in their big interview.
A qualified candidate who has poise and aplomb to spare will surely find a good fit in today’s candidate’s market. And once they’ve found a position that’s right for them, they may be lucky enough to get in on some (or even all!) of these cool benefits that more and more companies are offering these days.