How to make candidates feel more comfortable during an interview.

This is your sign. Welcome to Hooray recruitment.

At Hooray Recruitment, we know the importance of making candidates feel comfortable during the interview. That’s why we want to help you foster an interview environment where candidates can feel at ease, express themselves openly, and ultimately allow them to reveal their true capabilities.

As Gloucestershire’s leading ethical recruitment company, we specialise in made-to-measure recruitment solutions and we are proud to pioneer ethical recruitment for a better working world.

In the world of recruitment, first impressions are everything. Hooray Recruitment understands that as a business owner, your quest for the perfect candidate hinges on more than just evaluating their skills and qualifications, you also want to get to know the person behind the paper. This involves creating an atmosphere in which candidates can relax and truly shine. After all, nervous candidates may not present their best or even true selves, potentially leading to missed opportunities and misrepresentation of the candidate and their true potential.

Recruitment Consultants from Tech and Engineering division, stood outside Hooray HQ in Cheltenham


In this blog, we’ll share tips from our expert recruitment consultants, to help you master the art of making candidates feel more comfortable during the interview, enabling you both to gain the most out of the interview process. Ensuring it’s not only insightful but also respectful and welcoming. Below we talk about why candidate comfort can be crucial for a successful interview and some of our consultant’s top tips to help you to facilitate candidates’ true potential enabling you to secure the perfect candidate for your team. We’ve even included our top interview questions to ask candidates, as well as the ones to avoid!

So, you might be thinking what are the benefits of making a candidate feel more comfortable in the interview and should I be doing it?

In short, when you make a candidate feel more comfortable, they are more likely to showcase their true potential, leading to more insight and better hiring decisions, as well as a positive candidate perception of the company, and stronger connections between candidates and interviewers.

In a study involving thousands of job seekers, Glassdoor found that candidates who reported feeling at ease during interviews were significantly more likely to share authentic information about their qualifications, work experiences, and aspirations. They were also more inclined to discuss both their strengths and areas for improvement. This highlights the importance of creating a comfortable interview setting to elicit accurate and honest responses from candidates, ultimately leading to better hiring decisions and a more comprehensive understanding of a candidate’s fit for the role.

It can be of course important to recognise that there is a valid case for making the interview process difficult, for example if you are interviewing for a high-pressure job or even the military. However, remember, an interview can be challenging but a candidate should never be made to feel uncomfortable. You can strike a balance by designing a challenging interview process but ensuring the candidate feels comfortable and able to shine.

Michael offering a tea to Jess one of our recruitment consultants at Hooray.

So, to summarise, candidate comfort is pivotal for a successful interview process as it:

– Facilitates accurate assessments of skills and qualifications
– Fosters open and honest communication during the interview
– Reduces interview anxiety
– Enhances the assessment of cultural fit and soft skills
– Improves the overall candidate experience
– Supports effective rapport-building

Now those sound like some top-notch reasons to ensure you’re making the candidates feel comfortable during an interview!

So let’s get to it… The moment you’ve all been waiting for…

Hooray’s top tips on how to make the candidate feel at ease during a job interview:

Stephen, preparing for an interview.

1). Prepare for the interview

OK let’s talk about what you can do before the interview (even if it is online). Creating a welcoming atmosphere online and in person is key. So, think about where you’re interviewing them. Does it give a good representation of your business?

Take some time before the interview to set up the room. Think about temperature, lighting and space. If the candidate is coming in, make sure the room is a comfortable temperature, well-lit and there is available space for you both to sit down. Don’t for example use a small cupboard-like room because you may or may not have accidently forgotten to book out a meeting room.

If you are conducting an online interview, it’s crucial that you and the room are well-lit and that the audio and sound is working to a good quality. This is something you should test out before the interview, either by using the test option on Microsoft Teams or with a colleague.

Most importantly don’t forget to review the candidate’s CV and application thoroughly. They spend a long time on their CV so make sure you are receptive to it. Taking the time to read and re-read the person’s CV it’s not only respectful but it will benefit you and help guide questions and conversations.

This is your sign. Welcome to Hooray recruitment.

2). Welcome Candidates

First impressions matter: The moment that a candidate walks through your door they’ll be getting a feeling for the place and if they want to work there. Introductions are important, so be friendly, professional, polite and if possible, offer a refreshment as they may be grateful for it later. If they need time to pause and reflect on the question or if they are nervous and experience dry mouth, they may appreciate a drink to help answer your all-important questions.

3). Actively listen and engage throughout the job interview

During the interview active listening is your superpower. Not only is this going to allow you to understand and gain more insight about your candidate, but listening is a powerful skill that can demonstrate to your candidate that you’re interested in what they have to say. Maintain eye contact to show you are genuinely interested.

Where appropriate engage with the candidate in a meaningful conversation rather than just firing questions. This can reveal valuable insights that might otherwise be missed including more details and personal information about the candidate. This conversational approach can allow you to extract information that you need whilst also getting to know the candidate better as a person. Allowing you to gauge the candidate’s personality and fit for the role.

4). Avoid inappropriate or uncomfortable questions during an interview.

A big red flag is asking inappropriate or discriminatory questions stay clear of these ensuring your interview remains respectful and legal. Keep reading to see a list of questions that you straight up can’t ask during an interview and also a few we recommend avoiding.

Sophie, Hoorays Recruitment Consultant for Education Division giving interview feedback to a candidate. Sat down in a light white room.

5). Provide feedback and follow-up after the interview

Last but by no means least, after the interview, please, please, please, don’t forget about feedback! Providing feedback after the interview is vital. It should be constructive and delivered in a timely manner regardless of the outcome. Remember that this stage will continue to form part of the candidate’s overall experience.

A timeframe should be agreed upon and feedback should be delivered ideally within 24/48 hours after the interview. Even if the feedback doesn’t give a decision but delivers on the performance of the candidate during the interview. Be thorough and honest, offering development points or suggestions for additional training if the candidate wasn’t successful.

Not only is giving feedback the right thing to do; candidates invest time and effort in preparing for interviews, potentially taking time off work, travelling, and incurring additional expenses. Respecting these efforts by delivering quality and timely feedback is just decent business practice.

Failing to provide timely feedback not only risks a disgruntled candidate, damaging your reputation, but it also increases the likelihood of losing an ideal candidate. In a competitive market, failure to keep a candidate engaged in the process is likely to see them exploring other avenues.

What not to ask during an interview

These are all questions that you cannot and must not ask during an interview.

How old are you?” or “What is your date of birth?”

Asking about age is considered discriminatory and irrelevant to a candidate’s abilities and qualifications.

“Are you planning to have children?” “Are you married?”

Questions about family planning or maternity/paternity leave/child care can be discriminatory and invade a candidate’s privacy. They should not be asked during a job interview.

“What is your religious affiliation? Where do you go to church”

Asking about a candidate’s religion is inappropriate and discriminatory.

“What is your sexual orientation?”

Inquiring about someone’s sexual orientation is personal and irrelevant to their job performance. It is not an appropriate question to ask during an interview.

“What country are you from” “Where were your parents born?”

Asking about a candidate’s place of birth or their family’s is discriminatory and is irrelevant.

“Do you have any disabilities?”

This is considered discriminatory and cannot be asked to candidates. You may however want to ask them if they require any reasonable adjustments. For more information about reasonable adjustment visit the Empowered Employers website where you can read all about our campaign to help people with neurodiversity and disabilities back into the workplace.

Questions to avoid during an interview

These questions aren’t illegal but have been criticised and are to be avoided where possible.

“Tell me about your weaknesses.”

This question is often criticised for its clichéd nature and the potential for candidates to provide insincere or overly rehearsed responses. Instead, it’s more effective to ask about specific skills or experiences relevant to the job. It could be more appropriate to ask candidates what they see as their areas of development, which gives the opportunity for the conversation to be more positive and could also highlight self-awareness and ambition.

“Where do you see yourself in five years?”

This question assumes long-term commitment and can be difficult for candidates who may not have a clear career trajectory. It’s better to focus on the candidate’s goals and aspirations within the context of the role they are applying for. Particularly for more junior positions it may be better to ask the candidate what they hope to get out of the opportunity over the next 12 months.

In conclusion, crafting a seamless interview experience is not just a goal; it’s a necessity in the world of recruitment. Hooray understands the pivotal role that candidate comfort plays in unravelling their true potential. Beyond skills assessment, it’s about creating an environment where authenticity thrives.

As you embark on implementing these strategies, don’t forget that Hooray is here to help support you every step of the way.

Looking to level up your hiring game? Click here for our comprehensive guide packed with meticulously researched, handpicked interview questions. We guarantee it will be your new secret weapon to ace that hiring decision. Don’t just interview – interview like a pro!

Looking for more recruitment tips? Check out GlosJobs here for even more expert advice.

Don’t be a stranger, if you’d like a confidential chat about your next new star recruit or any hiring needs give us a call today and speak to one of our expert recruitment consultants on 01242 300 228 or check out our services here