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Hiring Advice Hiring process Are you a nervous interviewer? Try these techniques to help
Are you a nervous interviewer? Try these techniques to help

Are you a nervous interviewer? Try these techniques to help

Plenty of advice is out there for candidates dealing with nerves before an interview. But what about those on the other side of the table?

According to research for SEEK, one in two hirers feel nervous about interviews at least sometimes. So, you’re certainly not alone if you’ve got the jitters about conducting a job interview.

“We tend to associate nerves only with candidates,” SEEK’s Resident Psychologist Sabina Read explains. “However, those doing the interviewing can also experience stress or overwhelm for a range of reasons.

“Some would-be employers may have little experience in interviewing, others may feel ill-prepared or unclear about what they seek in a well-suited employee. It’s okay to recognise that just because you're a successful business owner or manager doesn't necessarily mean you're well-equipped to interview without appropriate preparation or guidance,” she adds.

Interviewing doesn't always come naturally for either party. Many Malaysian fresh graduates, for example, are apprehensive about expressing themselves. You can make yourself feel better by remembering that both of you in that interview room are outside your comfort zone. Acknowledging and embracing those nerves is the first step to conquering them.

How to tackle your nerves when conducting job interviews:

1. Approach it like a conversation, not an interview

Job interviews can feel formal and unfamiliar, amplifying that sense of nervousness. Ease some of this pressure by setting the tone. Start with a bit of casual conversation at the beginning of the interview.

Don't be afraid to initiate small talk; ask about their day and interests. Talk a bit about yourself. The more comfortable you both feel, the easier it will be. As the interviewer, you're responsible for driving the discussion, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you should jump straight into formal questioning.

One overlooked aspect of interviews is language. According to a study, Malaysians are hesitant about expressing themselves in English. Unless English is necessary for the role, you can conduct the Q&A in whatever dialect you're both confident in. Your ease can rub off on each other.

Read also says that reminding yourself about the purpose of an interview can also help keep things conversational.

“Interviews are all about getting to know one another,” she says. “They’re essentially a two-way exchange where each party is learning and sharing what they can bring to the table, and how their skills, needs, styles, and values align.”

2. Prepare well so you feel more confident

Heading into an interview well-equipped can help you relieve your nerves beforehand, and ensure you feel more confident and ready throughout the conversation. Cover these basics beforehand:

  • Make sure to be familiar with the candidate's CV.

  • Prepare some questions you want to ask about their experiences and also about them as a person – for example, their interests and hobbies.

  • Compose some answers to questions they may ask you about the role and your company, for example, what you enjoy about working there.

Preparation can also mean stripping back the role and requirements and thinking about the core criteria you’re looking for in an ideal candidate. As Read explains: “Your first step before an interview should be to clarify what you’re seeking in both a job position and the individual who will be filling it.

“Sometimes we become too attached to a rigid list of job specifications, and we overlook more subtle factors that can result in job success,” she adds.

3. Let the conversation flow

Letting the conversation flow feels more natural than sticking to a rigid interview structure. It can even help uncover key information about your candidates’ experience, personality, and skillset.

Having an ordered list of questions is essential, but if the conversation naturally drifts towards queries you plan to ask, go with the flow. You can always return to questions you may have skipped over later.

If you’re scared that deviating from your interview script will make you more tense or overlook relevant questions, Read notes that a simple follow-up email to thank the candidate for coming and fill in any gaps is more than appropriate. "Even a follow-up phone call can be useful for both parties who are assessing whether it feels like a good match,” she says.

4. Above all, be yourself

You don’t necessarily need to present a perfect, buttoned-up version of yourself to hold an effective interview. Instead, try your best to relax and be yourself.

Successful job interviews result in a great person accepting a great role. The interviewee’s impression of the interviewer and the organisation will be much more positive when you appear genuine and honest.

The same goes for if you find yourself getting caught up by nerves at any point during the interview, Read says.

“If you lose your way in the middle of an interview, just be yourself! ⁠“It’s fine to acknowledge you’re feeling some stress, take a few deep breaths, inject some humour, then get back in the saddle.”

Leading a job interview doesn’t come naturally to everyone. However, having these techniques and reminders in your back pocket can help ease your anxiety before and during an interview, allowing you to re-align with your main focus and find the best possible person to join your team.

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