How to Tap into the Hidden Talent Pool

How to Tap into the Hidden Talent Pool


It seems non-sensical in these times of severe talent shortages to discard some of the best talent simply because they haven’t performed well at first interview. And that could be a fault of yours, not theirs. Read on to discover how to tap into the hidden talent pool…


Yes, it’s easy to mistake nervous candidates for incompetent, but being nervous is not a candidate crime or a mistake; it’s what makes us human and everyone gets nervous from time to time. Employers and interviewers should in some respects be flattered by a nervous candidate as it shows they have deep psychological investment in your firm and are very keen to impress as a result.


Also, an inability to work around the nerves of a great candidate means that your interview process could be biased against introverts/nervousness, which means that you could regularly be overlooking great candidates.


In fact, recent studies have found that introverts often outperform extroverts in collaborative roles, and one study showed that introverts outperformed extroverts in sales roles.


So, if you are interested in building a selection process that allows for nervous candidates as well as the more confident ones, consider using the following eight interview tips on how to do this. Not only will this show you how to tap into the hidden talent pool, it will also leave a good and lasting impression with all the candidates about you and your company.


  1. Create a relaxing interview environment

Avoid an oppositional boardroom style layout as this can be intimidating. Consider using a round or at least oval shaped table for interviewing as this is more open. Provide comfortable (even padded chairs) with arm rests so the candidate can sit comfortably and relax whilst listening.


  1. Introductions
  • Make sure to start your interview with a warm and welcoming greeting and introduce yourself clearly and other members of the interview panel. While firm handshakes are all the rage, don’t crush; note and try to reflect the candidate’s grip, but avoid extremes.
  • Offer the candidate a drink; if it’s a hot day, it might be a cool drink, but on a winter’s day it might be tea. Always make sure there is water available throughout the interview.
  • Put great emphasis on eye contact and a warm smile.
  • Engage in plenty of small talk from the moment you meet the candidate right up to the start of the first formal question.
  • Talk about the person’s journey here, the weather, the upcoming Ashes or Wimbledon – whatever topic is relevant to now – although try to avoid politics at this stage.
  • Make sure you have read their CV and ideally focus on his/her hobbies, interests and passions and highlight any common areas of interest. Spend a good five minutes on this.


  1. Agenda

Before you start the interview, explain the agenda and plan for the day, including the format of the interview and questions. If it’s behavioural questions, then give candidates an example of a question and how you’d like it to be answered. Let them know when they can ask questions, e.g. during or at the end or both.


  1. How to start the interview

Ask easy questions to begin with as these quick wins will help to relax nervous candidates and build their confidence and should help them to perform better as you progress to the more complex ones.


  1. Smile

To help lighten the mood and keep it light, smile regularly and make the occasional joke – self-deprecatory jokes are best.


  1. Questioning

Avoid the interrogative interviewing style. Instead, focus on building rapport and trust with the candidate as a way to getting to the truth. So, assist them with answering by not rushing their answers, allowing them time to think, rephrasing the question if they look confused and offering to come back to the question later. Offer reassurance whenever you can. Always thank them for each answer, as that’s positive reinforcement, and praise them if they give a particularly good answer.


  1. Body Language

Use positive body language as another way to build rapport and trust, such as:


  • Smiling regularly, as mentioned above, perhaps when they are answering or whenever appropriate.
  • Using techniques such as ‘mirroring’ which means adopting a similar posture to them as this is thought to help build rapport.
  • Matching the speed, tone and volume of their speech, as this is also thought to help build greater rapport.


  1. And finally

Try not to form opinions on the candidates based on their level of apparent nerves or confidence as research suggests that a nervous disposition does not necessarily mean they will underperform compared to the outwardly self-assured.



You can avoid ‘throwing the baby out with the bath water’ by simply adopting an interview technique for all candidates that allows for the more nervous (and possibly the best) candidates to reveal their true selves.


This not only allows you to properly assess all candidates in a true and fair way, but it also gives you an opportunity to create a good impression and give them a good reason for wanting to work with you.


People will almost always choose to work for a boss who made them feel comfortable throughout the interview process rather than one who didn’t.


Good luck!