Every recruiter and hiring manager has dealt with a shy person during the interview process. It’s so difficult to get these people to open up during the interview that it’s hard to get to know them. They answer each question with the bare minimum response. You may try a joke and it falls flat. Their shyness makes them awkward; and while the person may be a terrific employee, the interview simply doesn’t do them justice. How can hiring teams work through the inherently shy or anxious candidate to set them at ease so their true personality can shine? 

1. Have a Familiar Face in the Interview 

It’s helpful when candidates work with recruiters because they usually bond during the screening process. The recruiter becomes the conduit for a new job and the candidate learns to trust them by asking questions about the job. For the shy candidate, having that familiar person as a constant throughout the interview process is very helpful. If the recruiter is an inside resource at the company, having them greet the candidate at the door for an onsite interview and escort the candidate through the interview process could greatly set their mind at ease.  

But what if the recruiter isn’t available to serve as that familiar face? 

2. Prep the Interviewee 

A survey of more than 95,000 candidates found that just over 31 percent were not given any prep materials on the interview process. This means these candidates probably didn’t even know whom they were interviewing with! Do you think that made the candidate very comfortable with the process? Of course not. And if the candidate was shy, the lack of prep probably made their anxiety worse. If a candidate doesn’t know what to expect, they will likely be more nervous than a candidate who knows what they’re getting into. 

3. Welcome Your Guest 

Treating your guest (the candidate) aggressively or in a way that is other than warm and welcoming will make the shy job seeker even more uncomfortable. Even before the interview, use phrases like, “Would you like to come and visit?” when you’re setting the onsite. When the candidate arrives, greet them warmly and try to make them feel less awkward by offering them coffee or water. Personally introduce the people the candidate will be meeting. Then, make sure you build in time to debrief with the candidate after each interview. 

4. Invite the Candidate to Be Honest 

At the start of the interview, let the candidate know you appreciate them taking the time to get to know your team. Tell them you are going to be upfront about the job and you appreciate their honest answers – and don’t be afraid to let your personality shine through. Let them know you welcome their question and remind them interviewing is a two-way street, with the candidate interviewing you as much as the company interviewing the candidate. 

5. Set the Tone 

Strategies one through four will help set the tone for the interview, but keep in mind that each interviewer will offer cues to the candidate that will make them nervous or set them at ease. It’s a good idea to speak with each interviewer to make sure they’re keeping the same warm and welcoming vibe you tried so hard to establish, especially if the candidate is bashful.   

Exelare has more tips to help the interviewing process go smoothly. Talk with our team or schedule a demo to learn how we can help your hiring process.