How to Reduce Interview Stress for Employers

A hiring manager asks leadership interview questions.

Job seekers aren’t the only ones who experience interview stress. The process can be nerve-racking for employers too — especially if they don’t interview candidates regularly or if they’re new to recruiting.

The key to interviewing in a constructive, stress-free way is preparation. These tips will help you reduce stress and make the most out of every interview.

1. Know the Qualities and Skills You Require

The first step to ease interview stress is to take time to understand the type of candidate you’re looking for. For example, do you need to hire someone with a master’s degree or doctorate? What about a specific certification or technical skill? Clarifying your needs will help you create a more effective job description and structure the interview accordingly.

Before the interview, take a few moments to review what the team needs so you can strategically identify these qualities and skills in the candidates you speak to. Create a candidate profile from your job description that helps you narrow down a list of must-have qualities and skills and have the list accessible for reference during the interview. (This step is also beneficial because people who apply will have a clear understanding of the responsibilities and requirements and are likely to be qualified and interested.)

2. Automate Your Applicant Screening Process

The next step is to automate your screening process. When you have everything set up and can simply customize it for the role, you don’t have to start from scratch every time. Furthermore, you will know that the candidates you meet with already tick the necessary boxes.

Use an applicant tracking system (ATS) to set up the criteria for different roles. An ATS is recruiting software that can streamline your hiring process by helping you organize candidates and scan for the keywords you have listed in the job description. This makes it easier to identify top candidates, track them throughout the recruiting process, and share feedback with decision-makers.

Screening criteria can include specific:

  • Years’ experience.
  • Certifications.
  • Previous responsibilities.
  • Past job titles.
  • Levels of education.
  • Skills and competencies.

3. Create Standard Interview Questions for Each Role

Stay ahead of interview stress by creating a standard list of questions you can use in each interview. If you decide to “wing it,” you might unintentionally fail to get the information you need to make a hiring decision. It also might be more difficult to compare candidates fairly.

Prepare a mix of questions, such as:

  • Opening questions that help everyone ease into the interview and break the ice.
  • Skills-based questions that uncover the candidate’s knowledge and ability.
  • Behavioral questions that reveal how candidates have behaved in past situations.
  • Situational questions that require candidates to share how they’d handle situations they may be faced with if they are hired.
  • Management style questions that gauge the strength of their leadership skills.
  • Closing questions that wrap things up and end the interview on a positive note.

Add them to your interview checklist to be sure you’re able to ask the questions that help you get a 360-degree view of the candidate’s strengths.

4. Set Metrics to Evaluate Candidates

Before conducting an interview, know how you’re going to evaluate the candidate. Use an interview rating sheet to keep track of which metrics you will be assessing them on and how. For example, you could rate each candidate on a scale of one to ten for how they answer each question, which skills they exhibit, and how well they communicate.

This keeps you focused on evaluating candidates fairly and can prevent bias. It also helps you establish a benchmark for success that you can compare against. For example, you might require candidates who move forward to score above a certain number. This makes it easier to decide who moves forward and who doesn’t.

5. Anticipate the Candidate’s Questions and How You’ll Answer Them

No one likes to be caught off guard, and candidates can ask you lots of questions you might not anticipate. Prepare answers for common candidate questions so you reduce the stress that often comes along with being surprised.

Brush up on your company history, team dynamic, and job description so you can easily answer these questions confidently. If you don’t know the answer, jot it down and say you’ll get back to them — just make sure it isn’t for something simple that you should know (such as how the company got started or who the candidate would report to).

6. Reduce Interview Stress with Self-Care

Your candidates are likely to be nervous too, so showing up to the interview relaxed will help them relax as well. Destress in ways that work for you, whether it’s getting a good night’s sleep, having a healthy breakfast, meditating, or going for a walk outside. Engage in activities that clear your mind and calm your nerves, and check in with yourself before conducting the interview.

Are you in a comfortable room? Is everything set up and ready to go? Make sure you have everything on hand that you’ll need so you can focus on the candidate and their responses, whether it’s the candidate’s resume or a cup of your favorite tea. When you’re relaxed, it’s easier to be fully engaged and lead an insightful conversation.

Say Goodbye to Interview Stress and Hire Your Next Great Candidate

With a little preparation, you can show up to your next candidate interview relaxed and ready for anything. Get started with a free job posting with Monster.