This Is How You Guide Candidates to Success For All Interviews

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Hiring practices have changed dramatically over recent years, with several new trends completely redesigning the recruiting landscape. A major part of the hiring process is the interview stage, which has also seen an influx of different types and formats.

No two interview processes are created equal. You have the traditional face-to-face interview, the phone interview, the video interview, the panel interview — the list goes on and on. This can be overwhelming, especially considering that 52 percent of interviewers make their decision about a candidate in the first five to fifteen minutes of the interview, according to an April 2015 study from the Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology.

How can you help job seekers prepare for all these interview variations? There are several obvious mottos like “be honest” and “dress to impress” that candidates can practice, but let’s take a look at interview tips that address common mistakes for each type of interview:

Phone

This is typically a first step in the hiring process, and a successful experience can lead to more interviews. Encourage candidates to set aside enough time, at least 30 minutes, so they can focus and aren’t rushing through it on a lunch break or while commuting. Ideally, they are in a quiet location that facilitates focus and full, undivided attention.

Tone is everything — a flat voice conveys indifference, a low voice sounds depressing, and an overly high voice and fast speed can be jarring. Help candidates hone in on a balance. Smiling over the phone helps because it makes their voice sound friendly, warm, and receptive. The right tone conveys enthusiasm and engagement.

Candidates should express that they want to continue the conversation in person. It shows they are confident that they can explain what value they can bring to the company in more detail. This will most likely result in a face-to-face interview.

Face-to-Face

A 2015 study from CareerBuilder found that 67 percent of employers say less than half of candidates make it through the initial screening or phone interview but are eliminated after a bad in-person interview.

The good news is, that the job seeker made it through for a face-to-face interview. This is their chance to shine in person. Guide their research efforts so they capture everything they need to know: the company’s values, mission, and goals, their products, responsibilities associated with the role posted and, if possible, the interviewer’s name and position.

The research should inform how the candidate will tell stories about their value. Help them identify a few instances that demonstrate how they execute projects and solve problems. There is a simple formula that each story should follow — problem, actions taken, and results. These anecdotes are extensions of the candidate’s resume, and they validate their skills and abilities.

Nonverbal cues are too often ignored. Slouching, leaning back, and crossing the arms express disinterest and defeat, cockiness, and defensiveness. Provide candidates with a list of these bad nonverbal communication habits so they can be mindful of them.

Encourage good posture and other cues that convey confidence, like making eye contact, sitting up straight, and even leaning forward when the interviewer is speaking to show engagement.

Video

Appearance is as important with video as it is with in-person interviews. Encourage candidates to dress professionally in solid colors to remain visible and not be over flashy. White can cause glares and distort form, and patterns can give the illusion of movement.

Run through some practice video interviews with job seekers to get an idea of where and how they will be participating in the interview. The background should be simple and uncluttered. The candidate should avoid sitting in front of a window or bright source of light, and the camera should be positioned to where it looks slightly down, so at the same height as the top of their head. It makes them look up and show their chin, which conveys confidence.

Notice when the candidate fails to look at the camera. It’s just like breaking eye contact during face-to-face interactions. When you see their gaze drift off screen or down the screen, direct their eyes back to the camera.

Panel

These can be overwhelming, especially if the panelists are rapidly firing off questions. Prepare job seekers for this by practicing. During practice rounds, demonstrate how they can control the pace of the interview by taking a moment to think about how they want to answer each question thoroughly and in a concise manner.

Help them achieve a balance of making eye contact while answering the questions and including the whole room. That requires practice on answering directly, then elaborating to address other panelists’ perspectives and connecting the response to the whole team.

What interview tips do you have for your candidates?

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Val Matta
Val Matta
Val Matta is the vice president of business development at CareerShift, a comprehensive job hunting and career management solution that gives job seekers complete control over their job search. It's available for individual users, university and military career services centers, libraries, and corporations seeking to offer outplacement assistance to former employees. Connect with Val and CareerShift on LinkedIn.