How to create the perfect candidate interview environment

By David Lawrence |


Put yourself in the shoes of your perfect candidate. What would it take to put you off your dream job at the interview stage?

Being interrogated by a morose interviewer who hadn't done their research? Probably.

Being kept waiting 20 minutes for the interviewer to arrive? Definitely!

Don't end up hiring a weaker candidate, who will cost you more time and money in the long run, simply because you were unable to sustain a good interview technique in the post-lunch lull.

Creating a great interview environment is one of the final steps of the recruitment process. You’ve spent days, possibly even weeks, selecting potential future staff members and all that's left to do is impress your perfect candidate sufficiently to persuade them to accept the job.

As most interviewers will tell you, researching a candidate thoroughly, getting well acquainted with the role for which you’re recruiting and having an interview room prepared is a good start, but how do you then proceed with a view to getting a great result every time?

Here are a few tips on how to create a near-perfect interview environment to ensure you hire your ideal, right-fit candidate.


1. Don’t be late

For a start, don't be late. Begin the interview on time. Being late implies to the candidate that he or she is not important. You need them to know that they are. It’s not just you who is giving up your time to turn up for the interview, so don’t imply that your time is any more important than that of the candidates.


2. Make a good first impression

The first five minutes of the job interview are the most important. You get one chance at a first impression and you don't want to risk putting off the perfect candidate. Don’t waste the time and money you’ve spent getting to this stage by changing the mind of a potential right-fit candidate at the last minute.

Before the candidate sees your company, he or she will see you. You are effectively a window into the company and therefore must make a good impression. Here are a few tips:

  • Smile and make eye contact. Use a firm handshake. These actions imply that you’re friendly and assertive.
  • Tell them the format the interview will take. Don't prepare any tricks or surprises. It won't do you any favours. You risk putting a potential candidate off working for you.
  • Be professional and friendly. Be approachable. If your candidate is intimidated, you won't get a good performance from them.
  • Try to match the candidate's mood and energy level (which, if they are a good candidate, will be positive).
  • Make sure you're being yourself and not putting on a persona that you believe better reflects the company. If you can't pull it off for the entire interview, you’ll raise some serious questions about your character in the candidate’s mind. If you can pull it off but revert back to being yourself after the hiring, your professional relationship with the candidate may suffer as a result.


3. Easing their nerves

Nerves play a big part in interview performance. Being interviewed is often a nerve wracking experience. As the interviewee, you’re in an unfamiliar place, eager to impress and terrified of making a mistake. The higher the stakes (i.e., the more the candidate wants the position), the more nervous they are likely to be.

Nerves are not an indicator of whether a candidate is strong or weak, because some degree of nervousness is common to all candidates. In fact, if faced with a blasé candidate who shows no nerves at all, wouldn’t you question how much they want the job?

You can help ease interview nerves, and it's in your interest to do so. You want to coax a better performance for each individual. Here are some tips:

  • Rather than dropping the candidate straight into the middle of frenzied questioning, you could give them a brief introduction of the company and the role. Be careful not to talk for too long though.
  • You could walk around the departments with them, give them a bit of a tour, allow them to get their bearings and possibly even provoke useful questions later on.
  • Ease them into the interview by asking them about their accomplishments and feed them easy questions that you assume they will feel comfortable answering.


4. Consider your questioning technique

You will, of course, already have a technique you use to question candidates, but how effective is it? Does it provoke the best possible answers and allow you to make a balanced decision?

Here are our tips for creating a great interview environment through your questioning techniques:

  • Speak clearly and think about how you phrase the question. Try not to overly use unfamiliar specialist vocabulary. Just because everyone at your company talks about rolling out the SKUs, it doesn’t mean everybody is familiar with this term. However, an assertive candidate will ask for a definition.
  • Find out their business passions. They might excel in an area you hadn't previously considered and prove to be more valuable to your company than previously thought. It will also give you an insight into what areas of work your candidate does not enjoy.
  • Test their interest in your company. Ask how much research they did.
  • Show interest in their hobbies and goals. They are relevant and will give you an insight into the sort of person they are. You need to know if this is a person you want to manage.
  • Use open questioning techniques. If you only get yes or no answers, you gain no further knowledge of the candidate.
  • Allow your candidate to demonstrate skills from their CV. It’s very easy to write down words on a CV, but can the candidate back up his or her claims?
  • Test their creativity as well as their business acumen. Use examples from your own business practice to inspire them to answer creatively. For example, why not ask the candidate what sort of social media posts about your business or product would provoke the biggest reaction?

Throughout your questioning, allow enough time for the conversation to flow into other topics. You might gain some exciting insights into what the candidate could potentially do for your business. A natural conversation flow will improve the interview atmosphere and encourage the candidate to perform better.

However, be aware that if the conversation is floundering or becoming irrelevant, you must rein in it. You only have a certain amount of time to assess the suitability of the candidate.

In conclusion, an interview should be a two-way conversation between two or more bright enquiring minds, who are heading towards a mutual goal. It's a chance for the interviewer to see if the interviewee is compatible with the company and ideally complimentary to it. Any obstacles or distractions to this process, will result in a less than perfect interview for everyone involved.


Do you want to learn more about how to improve your interview process?

Here at Vine Resources we understand the importance of identifying and attracting your ideal, right-fit candidate so we came up with a detailed eBook guide all around how to create the perfect interview environment. Find out the best way to prepare the candidate for interview, manage the entire process and give feedback post-interview.

Perfect Candidate Interview Environment

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David Lawrence

Written by David Lawrence

David is the founder of Vine Resources.

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