Psychology Affecting Candidate Behaviour

what candidates consider before applying for a job: from employer brand, job adverts to screening and job offer

Everyone knows that the way you represent yourself and your company to candidates can have a huge impact on their eventual decision to apply for or take a position in your organisation. But how exactly does the brain work when faced with the application process, and how can you ensure your candidates are in the right state of mind?

Employer Brand

The process starts with your employer brand, the company image you present to candidates that makes them feel confident in your excellence as an employer and as a business in general.

Doing this well across all touch points (such as social media, your company website, and even wider advertising or marketing campaigns) means that the candidate will have a positive impression of your company before they even see the job ad. If your company has an image that the public generally recognises, any given candidate will already have at least some awareness of your brand in the back of their mind.

Job Adverts

Attracting the right kind of candidates is much easier once you’ve laid the groundwork by developing your employer brand. When it comes to crafting the job ad, it’s especially important that you keep that brand in mind - the copy should really define those values and qualities that are at the core of your company.

Don’t just concentrate on what the job entails, but what will make the candidate really want to work for YOU and you alone. After all, your job advert will probably be listed alongside a whole slew of others, so what are you offering that should make candidates want to click on your job ad and not the others?

Additionally, think about the overall experience one has while applying for the job. Make it as easy as possible for the candidate to apply while still prompting them for all the information you need to make a decision.


If a candidate has had a pleasant experience applying for the job and is very much aware of your company and what it stands for, now’s your opportunity to show them that you really do care about them.

During the screening process, ensure you give each application a fair chance. When an applicant is deemed unsuitable, let them know you received their application, but that they were unfortunately unsuccessful on this occasion. It’s crucial to maintain professionalism and contact so the candidate will remember you fondly and not discourage peers from applying as well.

Interview Process

According to a report by Princeton psychologists Janine Willis and Alexander Todorov, it only takes a tenth of a second to form an impression of a stranger. Whether you’re conducting your interviews via video or face-to-face, you should make sure to present an immediately friendly and welcoming appearance and tone, then build on that throughout the meeting.

Additionally, the questions you ask during the interview - as well as how you ask them - can impact how the candidate behaves. Whether you opt to use psychometric testing or to play games in your interview that will really test your applicants, it pays to stick out from the crowd and even make the process a little more fun!

The Job Offer

Once again, you have to be certain that, if the candidate is unsuccessful, they’re told why in a prompt, sensitive manner. Make sure you never cut ties with them - after all, they could still be your future talent, and they’ll likely remember if you were rude or insensitive in your rejection or, perhaps worse, failed to even communicate your decision with them.

When you find the candidate you do wish to offer the job, make sure you also extend the opportunity in a sensitive manner. Your message shouldn’t just convey that they were successful, but explain more about the company and how the candidate will be welcomed to the team.

Making the application and recruitment journey interesting to candidates is the key to attracting top talent, retaining their interest, and giving new employees a consistent and positive experience of your company. It all goes to show that, as it progresses and develops as a business practice, recruitment is moving closer and closer to customer service!

What tactics do you use to attract candidates?