Four Tips on How to Keep Your Interviewee Comfortable

You feel like you have your interview in the bag. You've planned out the perfect structure. The questions you've chosen ask for just enough detail and leave plenty of opportunities for follow-up questions. You've even tested your questions out on your peers and fine-tuned the language.

So why isn't your interview going as planned?

Even with all the preparation in the world, it's difficult to get information from someone who isn't comfortable. Take the time to read these quick tips on how to ensure your interviewee feels comfortable and ready to open up.

1. Be Conversational Interviews can feel awkward. An interviewee might come in feeling nervous and unsure of what to expect. But in the end, an interview is just a conversation. Set a friendly but professional tone for the interview right away, and don't be afraid to make small talk before you start.

2. Allow Silence Most people are uncomfortable with silence and immediately jump to fill gaps in a conversation. But people may need to pause to recall events or take time to form their response. As an interviewer, you never want to rush the person you're interviewing or gloss over a topic simply because you didn't give the other person enough time. Having the patience to allow silence can also communicate a willingness to listen and encourage the interviewee to speak at their own pace.

3. Be Aware of Your Body Language While the interviewer should set the tone of the interview and remain in control, you should strive to avoid coming across as overbearing or aggressive. Avoid making large hand gestures above the shoulders, disapproving facial expressions, or sitting or leaning in too closely.

4. Appeal to the Instinct to Help If someone has agreed to sit down with you for an interview, they've already demonstrated a willingness to help. You use this to your advantage in an interview by framing your questions as opportunities to help your understanding. If you're confused about what an interviewee has said or they aren't going into enough detail, ask questions such as: Could you help me understand what you mean? Would you explain that to me?

Interviewing is a skill that requires practice. But being aware of ways that you can keep your interviewee feeling comfortable will give you a significant advantage in conducting in-person interviews. When you have finished your interviews and you are ready to begin the process of transcribing them, contact Connecticut Secretary today to get started!

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