Nick Hewer's 10 tips for hiring a star!

  • June 20, 2017

Dry mouths, damp palms, clouded minds - we’ve all experienced a nerve-wracking job interview at one point during our careers, but it can be easy when you’re not in the hot seat to confuse nerves with incompetence.

In fact, interview anxieties have affected 65% of candidates so much that they were unable to show off their true ability during a job interview, research from totaljobs found.

However, recruiters can deploy a few simple tactics to ease that pressure.

Speaking exclusively to Recruitment Grapevine, Nick Hewer, Lord Sugar's adviser on The Apprentice, offers ten tips on how interviewers can put candidates at ease. “I’ve used my 50 years’ experience of interviewing and being interviewed to put together my top ten tips for interviewers, to help them alleviate the pressure so they can spot quality candidates more easily,” he said.

Hewer is teaming up with totaljobs on its #TheElevatorPitch campaign, to ensure candidates don’t crack under pressure.

His tips can be seen below:

1. Introduction

Start with a warm introduction on yourself, your background and role at the company. This will instantly build a connection with the candidate and help them to feel at ease.

2. Make small talk

Some employers use small talk to alleviate interview pressures. Tell a joke! Just engaging a jobseeker in chit-chat could make things easier for the nervous jobseeker. It may help them act naturally, which is good for starting the conversation well.

3. Ask additional questions until you have built rapport

It will give you an insight into how this person may fit culturally in the organisation and whether they have the right attitude, which is often more important than competencies which can be taught.

4. Pick a less formal interview space

If employers want to make jobseekers feel comfortable, and help them gain an insight into the culture and what it may be like to work there, choose a less formal space.  Instead of an echoing Boardroom with a three-person panel, a cosy room where they may be working or close to the office environment could work better.

5. Think about interview techniques

A good interview should be a two-way conversation in which ideas and questions are answered naturally. Support the jobseeker by framing the questions so they can use examples of how they’ve worked in the past. 

6. Ask about their previous job

This may be testing, but it allows them to tell stories about their career which may be very relevant to what you’re expecting of them. Talking about past experiences is often easier for individuals, which can help them relax even more.

7. Use the right body language

Body language can speak louder than words. Trust and rapport needs to be built, and a good way to do this is to make eye contact, showing respect, sincerity and engagement. If you treat the jobseeker as an equal, you’re giving them a platform to show what kind of employee they will be in the workplace.

8. Smile

This is perhaps the most simple and easiest of them all, however people forget the power of a smile, especially if they are having a stressful and busy day. Smiling can instantly build a warm rapport and make the candidate feel at ease.

9. Common connections

Try to find something you have in common with the candidate whether it is something in your work history, past experiences or even something more personal. Finding a common theme will help the candidate find their comfort zone and feel on more equal terms in the interview, which will create a more open and honest dialogue.

10. Leave the hard questions until the end

The candidate should now feel at ease and can deal with any difficult questions they are unsure about. They may also be more honest if they don’t know the answers. By this point you should hopefully be able to engage the candidate in a more candid dialogue. 

Obviously, there is only a certain amount an interviewer can do and nailing an interview is about preparation, which in the end is up to the jobseeker.

But, it would certainly be a huge shame to miss out on a great candidate, just because they couldn’t show off the best version of themselves in what is a highly stressful and unique situation.

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