Interviewing can be stressful and anxiety-inducing for candidates. In honor of Mental Health Awareness Month, we've put together some tips that hiring managers can implement to put your interviewee’s mental health first.
It’s important to recognize that these are actions you should be taking all year (not just in May!) to ensure your candidates have a positive experience, whether or not you ultimately select them.
1. Be kind to your candidate.
This may sound obvious, but many interviewers don’t realize how important candidate perceptions are. Often, hiring managers need to find time to fit an interview into their busy schedules. This can result in an interview being rushed or not prioritized, which can also translate into unkind behavior toward a candidate. It’s important to consider that interviewees are likely already nervous and anxious, and may have been preparing for several days ahead of the interview. Where the interview might be a fleeting time block in your schedule, for a candidate, it’s a precious 30-minute slot for them to prove themselves. As much as you can, be cognizant of unkind behaviors like not smiling, being too direct, or rushing through an interview. Although this behavior is likely unintentional, it can negatively affect a candidate’s mental health.
2. Focus when your candidate is speaking.
When a candidate is answering one of your questions - focus. It’s very disheartening when a candidate is trying to answer a question and they notice that you’re not paying attention. During the interview, try not to look at emails, messaging, or any other distractions. By really listening to a candidate, you’ll be able to think of more targeted follow-up questions. Staying focused also lets a candidate know that you value their presence and recognize that you’ve both made time in your schedules to do this interview together. This reinforces that no one’s time is more important than the other, you are both equally important to this process. During the interview process, make sure to be respectful of your candidate’s time by being present and by focusing on their responses.
3. Ask clear, well-thought-out interview questions.
Have you ever been in an interview where a question is asked and your immediate thought is, “wait, what do you mean?” This is all too common. Because hiring managers are often scrambling to hire the right candidate in a short amount of time, they don’t often have the time to create an organized, structured layout of questions. Asking clear questions is integral to a successful interview. Confusing questions can leave a candidate feeling defeated, disoriented, and stressed for the duration of the interview. Take the time to write out well-thought-out, direct questions in a logical order. This will not only help your candidate process their answers but will make it easier for you when evaluating their answers afterward.
4. Leave time for questions from the candidate.
Take the time to plan your interview accordingly, so you get time to answer important questions the candidate has, and interact with them intentionally. This is an opportunity for the candidate to ask you about company culture, role-specific challenges, and even questions about you. If you rush through this portion of the interview, you’re demonstrating to a candidate that you don’t prioritize their particular concerns about the role, or work in general. To foster healthy communication, it’s integral that a candidate feels that they’ve been listened to and that any concerns they may have are addressed.
5.Give feedback (and don’t ghost).
Whether or not you choose a candidate for a job, it's good practice to give feedback. If you do choose them, feedback can help a candidate learn more about succeeding in their role. If you don’t hire them, feedback is extremely helpful and encouraging for their future pursuits. It’s quite discouraging to get “ghosted” by a hiring manager or recruiter. If you’re not choosing a candidate but they reach out to you, the best practice is to send them a thoughtful note, letting them know that they weren’t hired, but offering a tidbit of advice for their next interview. A little extra effort goes a long way.
Remember, an interview may be a common occurrence for you, but it’s a big deal for candidates, especially new ones. The pressure of an interview or a series of interviews can severely affect a candidate’s mental health. This month and every month - do your part in making interviews a positive experience.
Keep mental health in mind with an intentional interview process
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