In today’s job market, talented creative and marketing professionals have lots of options. As a hiring manager, you need to use interviews as a platform to showcase both the position and your firm (in addition to evaluating if an applicant is right for the role, of course). When it comes to interviewing candidates, it’s essential to remember that it’s a two-way street. The person sitting across from you is assessing the opportunity — and how you represent the company — from the moment your interaction begins.
Here are my seven tips to help you make a positive impression:
1. Nail the pre-interview prep
Making a great impression begins before the candidate even walks through the door. Providing all the information they need in advance of an interview is a must. This includes confirming who the candidate will be interviewing with, who they should ask for on arrival, and providing directions and parking information to expedite their arrival. Devoting time to making sure their experience is a positive one from start to finish makes your company stand out. Even small things, such as letting your reception desk know you are meeting a candidate, demonstrates such attentiveness.
2. Pick the perfect interview spot
The space you choose for interviewing candidates should be well lit, comfortable and conducive to conversation. If you’re meeting outside of your place of business, the environment is even more important. Think about the time of day and make sure your location won't be too noisy. Having to scream in a crowded coffee shop obviously wouldn’t be ideal. Interviews are already nerve wracking, so do whatever you can to select a location that will help put the candidate at ease.
3. Run on schedule
I once participated in an interview where we kept a candidate waiting for what must have felt like an eternity because my colleague was running behind. Starting the meeting by profusely apologizing wasn’t part of our plan. Being even a little bit late for an interview (or keeping the person for far longer than scheduled) will give the impression that the applicant’s time is not important to you.
4. Be prepared
Even if you have read the candidate’s resume very closely, scan it again before you enter the room, and keep it on hand. Also bring a copy of the job description and the questions you plan to ask for quick reference. Decide in advance, not on the fly, how you can best convey the greatest selling points of the job and your company culture. It’s your responsibility to bring to life what makes your creative department or agency such a rewarding place to work.
5. Practice positive body language
Body language is complex. As the interviewer, yours sets the tone for your interaction. The candidate will likely take cues from you to get a sense of how they are doing. Pay attention and use your body language to communicate your interest in the conversation. Avoiding eye contact, fidgeting, crossing your arms or slouching can send negative signals loud and clear. Out of respect to the interviewee, regardless of their performance, keep your own body language in check.
6. Avoid potential distractions
Don’t check your phone or computer during an interview — or let anyone who isn’t supposed to be in the room interrupt you. In short, focus solely on the candidate and nothing else. It’s smart to take notes, which can prove to be particularly useful if there will be additional rounds of interviews — and also demonstrates attentiveness, which reinforces a positive impression.
7. Wrap things up positively
Regardless of how well or poorly the interview went, treat all your candidates with respect and close the interview in a positive manner. Allow time for them to ask questions — and answer each one enthusiastically. Thank the person for their time and explain next steps. Smile. Make eye contact. Shake hands as you depart.
Your end goal is for job candidates to leave feeling excited about your company and the opportunity to work with you. If you’re professional, prepared, enthusiastic and authentic, you will make a good impression on your next employee from the outset.