An interview process can be tense. Not only for the candidates, but for small business owners with limited experience with interviewing.

Stepping into a conversation, not knowing the questions the candidate will throw your way or the experience you’re about to have, is certainly grounds for a bit of anxiety.

But, if you want to ensure the conversation goes as smoothly as it possibly can, our Talent Acquisition Managers have a couple ideas for you.

Putting your candidates at ease.

“Tell me about yourself and your professional background.”

This is typically the very first question I ask candidates. Most of them are nervous at the start of an interview. But I have found that they are usually prepared for this type of question. So, by asking it first, they are confident in their response and build off that confidence for the rest of the interview. For me, it gives me an idea if they are prepared for the interview and how their skills and background related to the position they’re interviewing for. – Dan Krupansky, Talent Acquisition Manager at PrimePay.

Specialized positions.

If you’re hiring for a more specialized position, perhaps a technical role like IT, sometimes these types of candidates can be a bit more reserved.

Krupansky has found success by asking these candidates about the types of software systems, technologies, or languages they’re experienced in and they will open right up. Essentially, speak their language to get them feeling comfortable before diving into other, typical interview questions.

“What would you say is your most memorable accomplishment or achievement from either a past or present job?

This almost always helps a candidate perk up.

In a traditional phone interview with talent acquisition, many times it just consists of an overview of the candidates’ job duties, why they left each role, and what they hope to seek out in their next opportunity.

It can tend to fall a bit flat, unless specific behavioral event questions are sprinkled in that encourage the candidate to elaborate on their experiences.

In my case, since I recruit mainly for outside sales reps, I enjoy learning about the specific times where they felt proud of themselves. This could be through exceeding quota, winning an award, being recognized by their company, closing a difficult client, or even serving as a leader/mentor in their branch.

Many times during this part of the interview, I can hear a noticeable change in the candidate’s tone and can get a good grasp on what they’re most passionate about. Maybe they’re passionate about exceeding numbers, hunting for new business, or striving for leadership.

It’s also a great way for me to figure out who, out of all the candidates I speak with for a particular job, go above and beyond in their roles.

When I speak with entry-level candidates who might not have a good deal of interview experience, this is a great way for them to speak about something that occurred in an area that may not fall under work experience. They could’ve achieved something great academically, in a club/organization, on a sports team, or even during an internship. It definitely helps the conversation take a more positive turn, should the candidate be nervous. – Daria Wick, Talent Acquisition Manager at PrimePay.

Overcoming the fight for top talent.

In today’s competitive talent market, small businesses must do a little more to stand out. Use these tips to ensure that once you’ve gotten a candidate interested in your company, you can hook them by providing an enjoyable interview experience.

What questions have you used that make your interviewees feel comfortable? Weigh in below!