How to Set Time and Location for an Interview

Usually, the date and time of an interview will be mutually agreed between you and the candidate. You should make an initial approach by telephone, if appropriate, or by letter, asking him when it would be convenient to call in and see you. This conveys the impression of a caring and amicable would-be employer. Never impose a time on a candidate just to fit him into your schedule. Not only might he be unable to attend but such a demand may appear rude and unreason­able.

Always allow plenty of time for each interview, so that you avoid having to watch the clock and rush such an important matter. Perhaps 30 minutes or so should be set aside for junior posts (New Youth Training, clerical, secretarial, for example) rising to possibly 75 or 90 minutes for more senior positions (sales executives, department managers and so on). If interviewing several candidates in succession, ensure that their interview times are well set apart with approximately 20-minute intervals between each. These gaps enable you to overrun slightly, gather your thoughts and make notes, have a snack (but don’t eat in front of a candidate as it is ill mannered and distracting) or visit the loo.

The location of an interview plays a key role in its success or failure. Both you and the candidate must be able to concentrate on asking questions and assessing answers to decide if you are well matched. Choose a quiet office or room (remembering that the job centre can offer appropriate interviewing space if necessary) without external noise, such as heavy machinery in operation or lorries being unloaded, or potential interruptions. Tell colleagues not to disturb you, dis­connect the telephone and so on.

Consider the layout of the room. You want to be able to concentrate totally, so remove all obvious distractions, for example, pull down the blind if the sun will be in his eyes, or change his chair if it is low and uncomfortable. You’d like the candidate to feel relaxed and at ease so he’ll talk openly. Having a large desk between you can be daunting. Create an air of relaxed informality by sitting around a table for a panel interview (it’s less like a firing squad) and having two easy chairs and a coffee table for a one-to-one interview.

There are other measures you can take to help the candidate relax. Think about the impression you create by the way you behave. If you appear tense and nervous (sweaty brow, clenched fists, jerky move­ments, stammered questions and so on) or seem rude and indifferent (fiddling with paper clips, staring out of the window whiles he’s talking, interrupting him and so on), then the candidate will feel increasingly edgy. Put him at ease by keeping your body still and leaning slightly forward to show you’re interested in what he has to say. Look at him regularly, smiling and nodding to encourage him to speak. Listen to him, picking up and developing his comments. Be prepared to lead the conversation if he falters, otherwise let him do most of the talking, so that you find out all you want to know.

Filed Under: Work & Careers


About the Author: Vanessa Page works a career counselor in one of the leading firms in Los Angeles. She is also a blogger and gives tips on how people can tackle their work and career issues. She has 8 years of experience in this field.

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