Lots of our clients say that they would like candidates to be more authentic during interviews. They understand that it’s important to go beyond technical skills and find out how a potential employee will fit in to their company.

We get it; you want the best person for the job so you want candidates to show you more of their personality. You want to know what it will be like to work with this person, how they will handle set-backs, how they will interact with your existing team and what unique qualities they will bring to work with them.

The thing is, it can be hard for candidates to walk into an interview situation and be truly authentic. They are trying to make a good impression and will be focused on being the person they think you want to see.


Ask the right questions

As an interviewer, you can encourage a candidate to be more authentic by asking questions that will force them off-script. For example, rather than asking a candidate about their core skill set, ask them to tell you about times that they had to work as part of a team or act quickly in a crisis. Here are some examples:

  •  Tell me about a time when you dealt with on-the-job pressure. What caused the pressure and how did you overcome it?
  •  Tell me about a situation that you could have handled better. What prompted you to act the way you did? how could you have handled it better?

Another way to get authentic answers from a candidate is to ask them how they would act in hypothetical situations. This type of questioning allows you to see a candidate’s thought process in action. And, because these are not questions anyone can really prepare for, you are likely to get very authentic answers.

  •  What steps would you take to regain a client’s trust after missing a major deliverable?
  •  You find yourself clashing with another team member – what steps would you take to resolve the conflict?

Of course, it’s not all about the questions you ask. You can help to set the scene by being open and willing to listen. Here are some other things you can do to encourage authenticity.


Ask about life outside work

A candidate’s hobbies and interests can tell you a lot about what makes them tick. Ask them what they like to do in their spare time and pay attention to the answer.


Think about body language.

Show that you are listening by leaning forward slightly. Sit upright in your chair and avoid crossing your arms or placing items in your lap – this will show that you are interested in hearing what the candidate has to say.

Obviously, eye contact is important – but don’t over do it – constant eye contact can be a little disconcerting and could even be seen as aggressive.


Demonstrate active listening.

Show that you are really engaged and actively listening by ignoring all distractions and staying focused deeply on what the candidate is saying. A good way to do this is to paraphrase what has been said to ensure mutual understanding.


Be yourself

Perhaps the best way to encourage a candidate to be authentic is too be yourself. If a candidate senses that you are being authentic it will allow them to follow suit.


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