July 22, 2016

How To Greet A Candidate For A Job Interview

by Chris Winterboer

It may seem like a simple idea, but it is so often mishandled – how to greet a candidate coming into your office for a face-to-face job interview. I would like to explore a couple of easy remedies to avoid making a poor first impression at your workplace.

Recently, I had a candidate show up for a first meeting with a potential employer. The receptionist did not have anything on the calendar, the hiring manager had the wrong time on their calendar and was unavailable, and the person that filled in for the initial greeting was so distracted that it was not productive at all. They could have written a blog about how NOT to greet a candidate.

Here are some basic ideas to make sure you are putting your best foot forward to make a candidate feel comfortable coming into an interview:

  1. Have an agenda prepared ahead of time for the interview. One of my favorite clients even does this before the interview. They email the job description, an application, directions to the office, and a clear agenda of who they will be meeting with and for how long. Now the candidate knows what to expect, can prepare accordingly, and will be ready to jump right into a conversation upon arrival.
  2. Have a meeting place set aside. I can’t tell you how many times candidates have followed up with me saying that they did not have a good place to interview. It was at someone’s cubicle with a lot of outside noise and distractions — or a conference room that was double booked and they were kicked out of midway through an interview. The worst I’ve ever heard is that there was not a place at all to interview, so they canceled the interview altogether. With just a little planning, this can be avoided.
  3. Be ready at the appointed time. Another faux pas that is all too common is being late for the interview time. The candidate arrives ten minutes early, waits another fifteen minutes for the hiring manager or interviewer to be ready, and now they’re nearly a half hour into waiting awkwardly for the interview to begin. Being so busy that you are late for the interview impresses no one. Instead, make a good impression by being ready a few minutes early to respect everyone’s time.
  4. Have water available. This one may seem unnecessary to some, but it is such an easy touch to add. If you are expecting someone to be talking for a good portion of the time, a glass or bottle of water is a welcome sight. It is a very small touch that could have a large impact.
  5. Shut down all computers and mobile devices. Nothing is worse than sitting down in an interview and within two minutes, the hiring manager or interviewer takes a call, looks at a text, or checks emails. No matter how important the subject matter, it sends a terrible message. Avoid the temptation altogether by shutting everything down and focusing on the candidate sitting across the desk or table.

While this all may seem too easy, I am here to tell you that many companies do not do any of these actionable items before an interview. You could already be several steps ahead of your competition for good talent by implementing even one or two of these options!


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