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Caffeinated Recruitment: 3 Tips for a Low-Stress Interview

by Shannon Callarman

When I first heard about stress interviews, I was flabbergasted. If you’ve never heard of a stress interview, it’s a strategy where the interviewer intentionally makes the interview stressful for the candidate to see how they do under pressure. My opinion: Stress interviews are inefficient and are a recruitment buzzkill.

The concept of stress interviews made me wonder how many companies have missed out on great talent due to poor interviewing processes. Did you know that when you’re interviewing candidates, they’re also interviewing YOU? Top candidates also pay attention to your effort to spark a conversation and whether or not you’re prepared to conduct the interview.

Your company’s interview style and process speak to your company culture. If you start with a bad interview, then the candidate will think the job is boring, stressful, or simply not the right fit for them. Today’s top talent are looking for passion, energy, and excitement in companies across all industries. So don’t lose a strong candidate to an inefficient interview process. Show them you’ve got what it takes to be a badass employer.

Here are 3 caffeinated tips on how to conduct a low-stress interview:

1. Get the entire team involved

I’ve been hiring candidates, including copywriters, interns, and PR specialists, for the last four years. And I know that when you’re in charge of making a hiring decision, it can feel overwhelming. You may know what you’re looking for in a hire, but asking the right questions can still be a challenge.

Pull other team members into the interview process. Ask members from other departments who bring a different perspective and whose jobs will be impacted by the new hire. Having more than one person interviewing a candidate can lead to a more conversational interview (read on!).

2. Create a technical assignment

An assignment may sound counterintuitive to my argument, but if it relates closely to the type of work you’re hiring for it will test whether or not the candidate will enjoy the work they might be doing, and if they can do the work successfully. Think about the role the candidate is applying to and create a mini assignment that mirrors something they will work on if they get the job.

It also makes a great conversation piece for a follow-up interview. During a second interview, you can talk through the assignment with the candidate. Here at RC, we’ve been able to understand someone’s leadership and strategic skills based on how a candidate thinks through a project. Other benefits of creating a job assignment include:

  • Understanding how a candidate thinks through a challenge/solution
  • Giving the candidate an opportunity to share new ideas
  • Testing their presentation skills (if applicable to the role)

What I love most about technical assignments is that they can help a company match with an entry-level candidate who has great potential but doesn’t have the portfolio of post-college work to showcase their talent.

3. Break the ice

Here at RC, we usually have at least two people interviewing a candidate, if not more. During the first in-person interview, we always start with a “break the ice” exercise to kick-start the conversation with a lighter, fun topic. We created several questions, typed them up, cut them out, and placed them in a bowl. At the beginning of the interview, each of us pulls a question and answers it out loud. Here are some examples:

If you were an ice cream flavor, what flavor would you be?

If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?

What’s your favorite childhood memory?

Our goal is to create a comfortable setting where the candidate can open up and feel confident. It has led to some great storytelling and random, fun facts about the candidate. We’ve even learned a thing or two about our team members.

Need help caffeinating your hiring process? Let us know!