Last week I shared a post talking about the importance of candidate experience to employers, and the unspoken magic it has toward attracting the right talents.
Here is a real life story of something that happened recently:
Various candidates came for an assessment for a finance role. After five minutes, a candidate called me and said she was done (the assessment was to last for one hour thirty minutes).
I asked her what was wrong, and she said she didn’t understand the questions. She tried thinking for five minutes and nothing came, so she decided to go home.
I sensed she was tense. I’m not a finance professional, but I mentioned to her that bank reconciliation isn’t difficult. I asked if she studied it in school. She said, yes, it’s not difficult.
I said, but that’s Question 4. She was surprised. Apparently, she didn’t see the question. The first difficult one she saw destabilized her.
Then I mentioned that she should have been taught internal control in school. She said, yes. I said, that’s Question 3. Then I advised her to start from the easiest, which was bank reconciliation. When she was done, she could take a look at the rest of the questions.
She felt calmer and decided to start with it. Eventually, she spent over an hour and thirty minutes.
Sometimes, as HR professionals, we need to go the extra mile toward helping candidates. I could have easily dismissed her and accepted her defeat, but I decided to push and encourage her.
What was the result? It made her feel I was on her side, rooting for her; which I honestly was.
Here are five ways to calm a tense jobseeker:
Have a warm smile
It’s not only when you’re about to meet with a client that you begin to smile and laugh at jokes that may not be funny. Sometimes, all that candidate needs to stop shaking is that smile. Share it.
Watch out for the signs of being tense
Most times, their hands are shaking. Their voices are shaking. They add too many ‘ems’ to their sentences. They have too many black-outs.
Ask the candidate if he/she is tense
You can also ask the person to take few seconds to breathe before starting over. This passes a message of “I can see what’s happening to you and I understand, you don’t have to be tense.”
Introduce an ice breaker
An ice breaker is that unrelated statement or question that may not be related to the interview. It could be about football, makeup, etc. You can also try complimenting something about the candidate too. Ice breakers are meant to lighten the mood and encourage the person to talk.
Ask the person to start over
If the candidate doesn’t answer the question properly and you feel that it is due to nerves, it is alright to re-assure the candidate that you will disregard the question. It makes them feel you are rooting for them, encouraging them to give it all they have.
Most times, we give tips to candidates to help them scale through. This time I decided to turn the table around and give tips to employers and HR professionals. This is because you also have a lot to lose if we let a good talent go by just because you are unwilling to be flexible and human.