What's Going Through A Candidate's Mind During The Interview Process? You Might Be Surprised.

The job applicant sits across from you dressed in a nice suit with a pleasant expression on his or her face as you ask questions. What’s really going through his or her mind? You might be surprised by what some job applicants won’t say during the interview but will say here. Savvy candidates may not ask these questions, but they certainly want to know the answers. Here’s how you can help deal with the elephants in the room.

job candidate interview process

Dressing for Success

Candidates are thinking: I look so overdressed and ridiculous in my suit compared to the actual employees in their khakis. Do I look OK? Will I have to wear a tie? If ladies wearing nylons is company policy, I’m outta here.

Put applicants at ease: If the candidate is dressed much more nicely than you are, tell them you appreciate the effort they took to show they’re serious about the job. Let them know what the company norm is for employee dresss.

 Show Me the Money

Candidates are thinking: How much are you going to offer? What’s the pay for this job?

Put candidates at ease: If discussing pay is above your pay grade, let the candidate know with whom and when the money talk will happen. If you’re able to outline a pay range for the position, let the candidate know.

Show Me the Time Off

Candidates are thinking: How much vacation do I get? What about holidays?

Put candidates at ease:  Whether your company offers one week of paid time off, a European style vacation of four to six weeks a year, or unlimited but impossible to carry over vacation, let candidates know. Also let them know about sick leave, maternity leave and taking time off to be with ill family members.

Show Me Some Flexibility

Candidates are thinking: Can I work from home? Do you have a flexible schedule? Nine-hour days and then every other Friday off?

Put candidates at ease: If you got it, flaunt it. Today’s workers want flexibility. Don’t hide these key benefits from candidates. If the job requirements, need to work face to face in teams, and/or public-facing aspects of the position don’t allow a flexible schedule, let the applicant know.

Desperate for Success (Interviewer)

Candidates are thinking: Why are you so desperate to fill this position? Why did my predecessor leave? Is this place going to turn out to be psychotic as my last job?

Put applicants at ease: If the vacancy was created by a promotion, let the candidate know immediately. That signals your company is a place where people want to stay and are empowered to move up. If the last five candidates left because of a bad supervisor or an unrealistic workload and you’ve since changed the job parameters, let the candidate know.

Desperate for Job (Applicant)

Candidates are thinking: This job is perfect for me. I need it. Pick me. Pick me. Pick me. When can you let me know?

Put applicants at ease: Be honest. If you think the applicant has a strong chance, make that clear. On the other hand, if you think the job isn’t going to be a good fit, let the applicant know up front. Also let applicants know how you’ll follow up: email, phone, some other method and how quickly to expect to hear from you.

The trusted source for DC's Employers

Sign up and post a job now

Post a job today

Back to listing

The Washington Post Jobs Newsletter

Subscribe to the latest news about DC's jobs market