See the Best (Not the Worst) in a Candidate

I’ve worked for hiring managers who relished the opportunity to interview new candidates. They’d get all excited – but for the wrong reasons – they were to destroy the poor unsuspecting interviewee. The candidate is in the waiting room, while the interviewer is in their office planning an attack to “put them on their heels,” “see how they do under pressure,” “rattle them” and I’ve even heard someone say, “I want them on the defensive.” What the…?

I was taught that our job as an interviewer is to get the best out of the candidate not the worst. If you have a candidate waiting to be interviewed, here are a few things you should do to get yourself in the frame of mind to see the good in your next candidate.

Get YOUR mind right.

Put yourself in check, here’s what I mean. You’re probably HUMAN right? So we humans can have bad days. The stain on the shirt, the button that pops, the fender bender on the way to the office, spilling coffee, stubbing the toe, having a fight with your spouse or team, getting chewed out by a client and on and on. So make sure you are in the right frame of mind to conduct a positive interview.

Get to know them

Be sure to review their resume, cover letter and LinkedIn profile right before you interview them. We know that they are qualified or you shouldn’t be interviewing them. When you review their information just before the interview, ask yourself, “What’s amazing about this person?”

Define your needs.

Remember your needs and not your wants. With so many distractions when it comes to assessing talent but you have to focus on the open position and what you need. What’s the job? The essential duties? The skills needed to be successful? The characteristics that fit the culture? Ideally you already know this stuff but if not, learn it and use it to build your questions and conversation with the candidate that’s sitting out there waiting to be interviewed.

I was inspired by a great article on written by Lou Alder, “2 Interview Questions That Separate the Doers from the Poseurs” and one of the suggestions is to offer to take the candidate on a tour. Make the candidate feel welcomed.

It’s awesome advice because today recruiting and interviewing is done on a computer or tablet.  Video calls; Skype, hangouts and phone calls are the ways most people do it. But taking a tour of the office environment and giving a candidate a realistic job preview is a great way to assess a candidate. So think about adding a tour of the workplace and showing them where you need their help the most.

Interviewing can be a power trip for some, and overwhelming to others. But if you just think about it, you want to hire the right person the first time. We all know hiring is a costly decision. It’s the most important decision an organization will make. No pressure, right? Start with seeing what’s best in the candidate.


Gladiator In A Suit Chris Fields is an HR professional and leadership guy who also helps job seekers write great resumes and blogs. His work can be found at & Photo Credit ViralWire.

SmartRecruiters is the hiring platform with everything you need to source talent, manage candidates, and make the right hires.


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Chris Fields Human Resources Consultant, Resume Crusade Chris Fields is an HR professional and leadership guy who blogs and dispenses great (not just good) advice at Cost of Work & ResumeCrusade.
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