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Are you a Nervous Nelly? Tips for engaging candidates in interviews.

We are no stranger to conducting job interviews. In our experience, we typically come across similar personality traits that we have generalised below with some tips on how to optimise the time with the candidate.

Nervous Nelly

Most candidates are at least a little nervous in a job interview, but this one takes the cake. They’re constantly fidgeting, anxiously rambling and noticeably sweating. To learn more about the person behind the nerves, you need to calm them down.

Ease their nerves by starting the interview on a fun note. Instead of diving into business mode immediately, ask them about their favourite TV show or sports team. This will help them relax and get comfortable, so they’re calm by the time they need to answer job-related questions.

Quiet Quentin

Some people are chatty by nature, and others aren’t. Interviewing a quiet candidate who gives one-word answers can feel like pulling teeth, so you have to get a little creative.

A change of scenery might be the trick to getting them to open up, so take them on a trip out of the conference room. Give them a tour of the building or take them down to the lobby for a cup of coffee.

The yes to everything type.

An agreeable candidate is great, but someone who goes along with everything you say can be a bit much. If they follow your lead on everything, you won’t learn much about them.

Solve this problem with a savvy line of questioning. For example, you might ask “What is your least favourite type of work environment?” or “Tell me about a time you had to work with a colleague you didn’t see eye to eye with?”

Don't shut up and want to be your best friend type!

It’s always fun to meet a candidate you just click with. You’re going to favour this person because everyone wants to work with people they like.

Keep your priorities in order by shifting the conversation away from your similarities and onto the job at hand. This will help you focus on their fit for the position, instead of how much the two of you have in common.

Oh poor me, I am the victim.

Some candidates refuse to be held accountable for their actions. Every response follows the same basic narrative blaming their failures on other people.

Steer them away from this storyline by asking questions that require positivity. Good questions to achieve this include, “What was your favourite thing about your last job?” or “Tell me about the most rewarding project you ever worked on.”


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