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Why Creating a Positive Interview Experience is Important

“Mate, it was a shocker. Based on my experience, I would not work there.” That’s how a good friend of mine responded when I asked about his recent interview. He’d called me a few weeks earlier for advice. Working in recruitment, I tend to get a lot of these calls and it’s always quite fun! We spent a few hours discussing and preparing for his interview. This included a roleplay, as it had been a while since he’d been to an interview. I was keen to find out if our efforts had paid off, so this was disappointing to hear.

He was disappointed too. An exciting opportunity with a company that was doing well despite the pandemic was now completely undesirable. If he were desperate for work, he may have taken the job and kept looking for other opportunities. However, he decided not to proceed. Where did things go wrong, and as a hiring manager, what can be done to avoid this situation?

Little things can make a big difference

A warm greeting, appropriate introductions and maintaining eye contact are simple ways to establish rapport and to kick-start great communication. Successful interviews all have great two-way communication (aka the 50/50 rule) so that both parties get to list and share.

Unfortunately for my friend, the interviewer arrived late, did not apologise or offer any introductions; let alone a friendly greeting. My friend was told of the role he was there to talk about, and the hiring manager flipped through his CV distractedly while he talked. It was not a great start!

My colleague Tamara Ryf recently wrote about leadership and how empathy and kindness can be applied to set the scene for a positive interview.


Being prepared is a great way to acknowledge the candidate’s time and effort in the interview process, not to mention it makes the decision-making process much easier later. You can prepare by:

  • Reviewing the candidate’s CV and LinkedIn profile prior to the interview and making notes of areas to explore further
  • Putting together an interview guide that captures the specific technical skills, knowledge, experience, and competencies required for the role. Not only will you be keeping the interview on track, but you’re measuring the candidates using the same metric. This will help you make an informed decision when you are reviewing candidates.

My friend’s experience was compounded by the fact the manager had someone else’s CV. However, it became apparent to him the hiring manager had not set a clear agenda for the meeting and often asked multiple questions at once. This made it challenging to respond appropriately. I think it also left them both a bit confused. Investing time to get ready for an interview is helpful for everyone.

The candidate isn’t the only one who has to sell

Even in the current market, great candidates will always be in high demand. You should be able to articulate your company’s Employer Value Proposition, as well as what you personally find rewarding about your role. If you can’t sell your culture, market position, learning and development program, career progression opportunities and non-monetary benefits, flexible working arrangements, you’ll likely lose this great candidate to a competitor who can.

Closing the interview

Closing an interview effectively is just as important as properly kicking off the interview. This generally includes:

  • Asking the candidate if there is further information they would like to share about themselves
  • Providing the opportunity for questions to be asked
  • Thanking them for their time
  • Advising what next steps and likely timeframes will be
  • Ensure that you give them a business card so they can easily contact you if they have any follow-up questions

Perhaps if my friend had the opportunity to share further information about his skills and experience at the end of the interview, he would have left feeling more positive.  Allowing a candidate to be heard and feel competent can help them think positively about the interview experience and organisation.

Negative interview experiences can impact employer brand and unnecessarily increases the time it takes to fill roles. I’d like to think that particular manager was having a really bad day. However, given the time and effort candidates typically spend preparing for interviews, it’s only fair they are treated with respect and are made to feel important.

If you’d like to talk further about how to get the most of your interviews or another recruitment topic, please email me or call me directly on 0423 605 590. You can also subscribe to our blog here.

For support with temporary staffing or any hiring needs, please reach out to me or your HOBAN Account Manager for immediate help.

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