Interviews can be stressful. For many they are akin to a “blind date”. While you can’t control a candidates’ personal stress level, you can reduce it by first acknowledging that they are experiencing some level of stress and taking a few moments to help put them at ease.
Your goal is to get to know the candidate. Be respectful of their time. Just because your day may be unraveling, don’t make it their problem. Like Jeff Spicoli said “If you’re here and I’m here, doesn’t that make it OUR time?” Be prepared for the meeting.
When the candidate arrives, spend a minute or two with small talk as you get settled in. Set the expectations for the conversation and let them know it’s ok to ask questions along the way. Don’t immediately launch into a barrage of questions. When you do so, all they hear is, “where were you on the night of…?” A nervous candidate will revert to fight or flight mode and start telling you what they think you want to hear.
Remember, you have the home court advantage. If you want your interviews to be meaningful, it’s up to you to set the tone and make the candidate feel comfortable.