Thoughts on How to Put Your Best Foot 👣 Forward to Candidates — 7 Tips to Better Interviewing

Mia Wähälä
3 min readMar 23, 2021


Here are a few learnings, seven in fact, I’ve collected on building a great first impression when interviewing a candidate. Remember, this is as much a sales game as learning if it’s a fit - on both sides.

1 | Keep the Pitch as Snappy as Possible

  • Of course the fresher your venture is, the trickier it is justify to yourself that a short call is enough to woo as well as decide on a candidate. The truth is, nobody has time for the story of your life. Stick to the basic truth and the most important point first.
  • A snappy, juicy short sentenced pitch on why you do what you do, what problem you are solving, delivered with the biggest smile goes miles. (Versus making the candidate listen to you ramble for 15 minutes).

2 | Sell The Vision with Emotion

  • When you interview a candidate for a role, be it as a Talent- or a Hiring- Manager, how you behave and what you say leaves a crucial mark on the candidate. You’re a representative of the company and it’s culture at every step. Espeically first impressions count. 🤠
  • Your job in the first call is to make the candidate as excited about the company vision and role as possible and why right now is the best time to join building.

3 | Listen to the Candidate

  • As important as selling is, it’s also your job to make the interview relevant for your candidate. That first call is equally about you understanding why, how and when this candidate could be a fit for joining the building of your rocketship.
  • Understand what is crucial for the candidate. Look at their life stage. Ask about their future aspirations and inner drivers. There’s some clear clues there on fit if you care to take the time to listen carefully.

4 | Make it a Two Way Conversation

  • A great interview is just as much about you interviewing the candidate as it is about the candidate interviewing you.
  • It’s easy to get comfortable thinking you only cater to company needs. Great talent will not tolerate that and will drop out of a process quickly if you are made to feel like just a number.

5 | Be Prepared

  • Interviewing will never eliminate all question marks. But coming prepared is one step closer to eliminating at least the most obvious doubts.
  • Doing your homework to build an understanding of the candidate’s background 👽, and any previous contact points with your team is something I always want to do before my first chat.

6 | Ask Open Questions 👐

  • Ask open-ended questions. With open ended questions I mean questions that seek to draw out the information and allow the candidate to set direction of the answer, usually beginning with “what”. With “why, will, could, would” you are more likely to have a priming, directing or even accusatory tone in your questions.
  • Using labelling ( “It seems/feels/sounds/looks like”) or mirroring back the key words the candidate said are neat conversation tools to show you are engaged too. This Chis Voss video breaks it down sweetly.

7 | Be Transparent

  • You can achieve a good impression if you increase transparency of what you are looking for and sharing that as early as possible. It will help manage expectations for later on in the process too and flag up the right issues.
  • Don’t hesitate to end the process, even mid-interview if the candidate isn’t a fit. Candidates will appreciate you saving their time, even if it might be disappointing.
  • If it’s not a clear hell-yes, it’s a no 👽. You have to train trusting your gut, “feel the candidate” and be comfortable to form an opinion on relatively few data points.

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Thanks, that’s all for today!