Some of you may not always be in the interview seat and may actually be the one interviewing a prospective candidate. Whether you are doing it as a favor to a friend or are a recruiter, or someone asked you to keep an applicant company while they are being shuffled from one interview to another, remember to put yourself in the candidate’s place and act “as if”. We all know how nervous and intimidating the interview process can be. Understanding that is the first step in making a candidate feel comfortable and less awkward during the rigorous interview process.
Here are some topics or actions that will likely make an already nervous job applicant see “red” or worse, run in fear before the interview even gets started. Next time you are in front of a prospective candidate consider avoiding the following:
1. “You are sitting in my chair!” Claiming your space during an interview may seem like a natural step for you but marking your territory with an unsuspecting candidate is likely to have them feel like they just stepped in a pile before they even sit down. Physical and personal boundaries are important when meeting new people but rearranging people like furniture is not going to win you any high marks and will likely set the stage for a very tense first impression.
2. “So, you’ve been married before?” Finding ways to break the ice when meeting someone for the first time is an important first step in establishing a good rapport. Delving into their personal life and inquiring about their marital status or how often they date is not. Finding the boundaries between “social” and “sociopath” will help you know just how close is too close for comfort.
3. “When was the last time you had sex?” There is probably no “good” conversation where this phrase is appropriate unless of course you are auditioning for a scene in “Masters of Sex.” Inquiring about someone’s sexual activity is not appropriate topic of conversation for the office or in any professional setting.
4. “How late do you like to work?” It’s nice to know the work ethic of the prospective candidate, but inquiring as to their work preferences implies you may have a set of standards that are hard to match. You can discuss work expectations but watch out when you want to know what time this person likes to go home and have dinner with the family. At that point, it’s really none of your business.
5. “Oops sorry, I farted.” It’s good to feel comfortable in your own skin, but when you are feeling a little to at ease you may miss the line between appropriate and crude. Controlling your physical impulses to burp, fart or spit while in front of a candidate and not your family member will help you set a good example not to mention maintain self-control during the meeting. And before you ask, yes this has happened in an interview!
We all want to make a good first impression and knowing that you are representing your employer when you meet someone new for a job means you should act as if your boss were in the room with you. Your personal comments and actions during an interview are as important to a prospective candidate as what you may find on their resume. It’s always good to try and make someone feel relaxed but remember making someone feel “at home” should not be taken literally.
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