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How to Make Candidates Feel at Ease During a Pharma Job Interview

Written by: Lucy Walters
Published on: 4 May 2021

How to Make Candidates Feel at EaseWhen recruiting for your next pharma position, it’s important to consider how you can make candidates feel at ease during the process, especially when it comes to the interview stage. Not only will making your candidates feel at ease help them to relay their potential as clearly as possible, but it will also help you to relax too, allowing you to build a better rapport with them. 

Interviews can be nerve-wracking, and not all candidates will perform well in this often high-pressure environment, so it’s important to help them relax during the process to get the most out of the interview, and to really get to know what your candidates are capable of. Here are our top tips on how you can make your candidates feel at ease and help the interview process run smoothly...

Help Them to Prepare

Give your candidates as much information about the interview as you can. Where possible, give details on the following:

  • Names of the interviewer(s)
  • Length of the interview
  • Where candidates should report to on the day (and information on where they can park, etc.)
  • The type of interview and how the candidate will be assessed 
  • What the candidate should bring with them

Being prepared will help your candidates be relaxed and confident on the day, so it’s better to give too much information than too little.

Make Sure They Are Greeted

If you aren’t able to greet the candidate yourself, make sure there is someone who will, especially if you’re running late. Aim to get someone from your team to go and introduce themselves to the candidate and make sure they’ve checked in and to see if they need a drink, etc.

Think About The Location

Think about the space you’ll be giving the interview in and make sure it’s going to be comfortable for the candidate. Where possible, choose a room that’s well-lit, spacious, quiet and important. Don’t try and conduct the interview in a co-working space, a canteen or an open office as this will be too distracting for both you and the candidate and will make them feel unimportant. 

Especially if other people are using the room before you, check it on the day to make sure it’s clean and tidy, and that everything you need is in there. 

Limit Distractions

Make sure you let your colleagues know you’re giving the interview and that you don’t want to be disturbed. Consider putting an ‘Interview in progress’ sign on the door, and make sure your phone/laptop is on silent. Also consider things such as planned fire alarm tests and don’t choose these times for your interviews.

Don’t Mention Other Interviews

The candidate may ask how many other people are in the same stage as them, or how many more interviews you have to conduct, and in these instances, it’s okay to talk about other interviewees. However, be careful not to comment on how well other interviews have gone, as this will only make the candidate more anxious to perform well. 

Also plan your interviews so that they aren’t back-to-back, as your next candidate may feel intimidated if they see you with the previous candidate – especially if your behaviour is positive.

Prepare Your Questions

Have a list of questions you’re going to ask in the interview in the order you want to ask them in. Make sure that you’re asking questions that cover the key requirements for the role. Trying to think up questions in the moment will likely put the candidate on edge and make you appear disorganised.

If you’re hiring for a remote role, take a look at our list of questions to ask remote pharma candidates.

Don’t Be Late

This might seem obvious, but rushing to greet the candidate after the arranged time of the interview will make you look disorganised and also make the candidate feel like they’re an inconvenience to your busy schedule, which may knock their confidence.

Offer Them a Drink

Asking the candidate if they need a drink is a great way to ease them into the interview and to break the ice before you dive into your list of questions. It will also help them to relax as they can take a sip whilst they think over a question.

Start With an Introduction – But Don’t Give Everything Away

Start by introducing yourself, the role and the company before jumping into your questions. Be careful not to give everything away too soon, as you’ll want to see what the candidate understands about the role themselves, and how much research they’ve done on the company. Also be mindful of the fact that they’ve probably prepared some questions to ask about these things, so don’t give everything away and leave them stressing about not having enough questions to ask. 

Use Positive Body Language

Don’t show signs of boredom such as fidgeting, checking the time and looking around the room. If you’re taking notes, make sure to do this after the candidate has finished speaking and not during as you need to be able to maintain eye contact to show that you’re engaged in what they’re saying. 

Be Human

Don’t be afraid to let your personality show, and put candidates at ease by being human. Remember that interviews are also about seeing whether the candidate will fit in with the company culture and get on well with the team, so showing things like a sense of humour will also help you to see what the candidate is like as a person. Making it feel more like a conversation rather than an interrogation should help you to build rapport with the candidate, and make them feel comfortable. 

Don’t Rush Them

Give your candidates enough time to answer your questions in detail, and make sure that you’ve allocated enough time for your interview to allow them to do this without having to rush. 

Ask Questions to Help, Rather Than to Trick

Job interviews can be nerve-wracking for candidates, and often they’ll forget the things they want to say because of their nerves. If a candidate doesn’t give a very detailed answer, ask them follow-up questions to help them along and to encourage them to give more information. Help them to shine rather than writing them off straight away.

Help Your Candidate Get Back on Track

Similarly, if you see the candidate start to get flustered, bring the conversation back to something you know they’ll be confident talking about. You could ask them about something on their CV, such as more information about their degree and other training courses they’ve completed. This is still a useful way of finding out more about the candidate whilst also getting things back on track.

Leave Tough Questions Until the End

If you’ve got some questions that are more challenging than others, leave these until the end of the interview to give your candidate time to ease into things, rather than intimidating them early on.

Finish On a Positive…

Finish the interview on a positive note by telling the candidate that you’re grateful for their time and interest, and let them know what the next steps are, with expectations on when they should hear from you. Make sure that if the interview was arranged by a recruiter, the candidate is clear on who they should contact if they have any questions, and make sure they have the relevant contact details before they leave.

Remember that interviews are a chance for you to make a good impression on the candidates just as much as it is for them to make a good impression on you, and this will be much easier to achieve in a relaxed and friendly environment.


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