Job Interview Communication: How to Avoid Awkwardness Between Interviewer and Candidate

Jun 27, 2017

Job Interview Communication

When your company is hiring, you want to ensure that quality candidates are not overlooked or driven away because of communication awkwardness.

Awkwardness goes beyond a limp handshake or being late to interview a candidate. Maintaining proper job interview communication starts with being prepared for the interview and having a structure to guide a candidate through the interview process.

Solving Job Interviewer Awkwardness: Be Prepared

The hiring manager or interviewer should control the conversation. Interviewers set the tone, establish the flow of the meeting, and guide the conversation to gather the information you need to evaluate the candidate.

Accomplishing this requires preparation. Interviewers should not be reviewing the applicant's resume for the first time right before the interview, and especially not during the interview. This will lead to communication awkwardness because they will not be able to engage with the candidate while simultaneously scanning the resume.

Instead, interviewers should be prepared to ask Bona fide Occupational Questions (BOQs) that are pertinent to the role. This is part of the gathering process that makes up the majority of the interview.

But, without this structure in place, the conversation could go any number of different directions. This results in a lack of flow and incomplete profile of the candidate. Then, when you attempt to evaluate the candidate after the interview, you do not have enough information to make an informed hiring decision.

This scenario also conveys a lack of professionalism, reflecting poorly on your company. Too often, the person who was the best fit for the role does not accept the job offer because of the impression they received about your company during the job interview.

Candidate Awkwardness: Be Prepared to Guide the Meeting

From the candidate's perspective, interview awkwardness could result from not understanding how to answer interview questions that relate to a particular situation in past work environments.

This puts the responsibility on the interviewer to continue guiding the interview, restating questions that unlock past behavior in a similar role, and getting the candidate to talk about specific tasks they previously performed that relate to the position.

Many job candidates walk into an interview expecting to hear traditional, broad interview questions such as: "What are your five biggest strengths and weaknesses?" But, your company should be asking behavioral interview questions that relate to the primary core competencies associated with the role.

If the candidate is unable to think of a specific situation where they had to perform a task that would be required in the role, the interviewer should be prepared to redirect the interview to questions related to a second core competency.

But, if the interviewer is not prepared to redirect during the interview, it could lead to communication awkwardness as the candidate wastes valuable time trying to come up with an answer that is not relevant to the question.

Another risk of not being prepared is asking personal or illegal questions that are inappropriate for the interview. You may not intend to ask an illegal question, but a lack of planning makes you susceptible to improper interviewing. This will certainly lead to interview awkwardness while also creating the risk of occupational liability.

The Best Practice for Interview Communication

The two most important steps for maintaining proper interview communication is completing an applicant appraisal form beforehand and outlining the interview agenda at the start of the interview. This will put the candidate at ease because the interviewer is conveying preparation and setting the course for how the interview will unfold.

It is also important to include time for the candidate to ask questions in the agenda. When the interviewer establishes upfront that the candidate will have an opportunity to ask questions about your company and the role they applied for, it will create a productive interview environment.

The leader of the interview establishes how the interview will go, what will be covered, the timing of when information will be gathered by the interviewer and given by the candidate, and when it's their turn to ask questions. Taking command of the interview in this manner helps remove awkwardness.

To improve or review your organization's interview communication, consider signing up for the ZERORISK Behavioral Interview Training Course. This will guide your team through interview techniques, effective communication skills, and best practices for interviewing candidates. The result is your company understanding how to implement a structured interview process to better identify the candidate that best fits your job opening.

ZERORISK helps organizations build great cultures by identifying, developing, and retaining top talent. The ZERORISK Hiring System blends a revolutionary behavioral science with state-of-the-art technology to reduce unwanted turnover and improve employee performance. For more information contact us at (800) 827-5991.

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