So you were confident that you nailed the final interview and all the buying signs were there, but you didn’t get the job offer – what went wrong?

Possible answer: the recruiter vetoed the hiring decision because of how you behaved (not how you performed) during the interview process. Looking back on my career, I can recount numerous times when I’ve voted against offering a candidate the job or have rescinded a job offer due to poor Candidate Behaviour.

What is Candidate Behaviour?

Candidate Behavior is the way a candidate behaves throughout every touch point of the interview process. For example, the way you answer your phone, the ‘voice’ you use in your emails, your flexibility when scheduling interviews, your consistency of communication, how quickly you return calls and emails, how you behave at the offer stage, and your general attitude during interactions. Think of Candidate Behaviour as the inverse of Candidate Experience: it’s the overall experience that an organization will have with you as a candidate.

Why is it important?

Your overall behaviour as a candidate has a significant impact on how far you progress through the interview process. Regardless of conscious intention, the entire interview process (not just the interview stages) is really seen as a ‘test run’ for how you’ll interact with the company as an employee. If the recruiter feels that you are a difficult candidate to work with, then it’s assumed that you’ll also be a difficult employee to work with and may vote against progressing your application to the next step.

Why talk about it now?

With all the buzz and focus in our industry on the topic of Candidate Experience, we’ve overlooked how important Candidate Behaviour is. Because of the major talent shortage in most industries today, candidates don’t need to work as hard to get multiple job offers which has lead to complacency in interview behaviour. As a recruiter I’ve noticed that candidates are becoming lazier in their job search and Candidate Behaviour is trending down.

Key Considerations

Recruiter relationship: Even though they’re not the hiring manager, don’t underestimate the importance of building a good relationship with the recruiter because they have a lot more influence in decision making than you may think.

Engagement: do all that you can to ensure that you are viewed as a highly engaged and interested candidate. Remember to be consistently responsive because ‘radio silence’ from a candidate is interpreted as a red flag which creates an almost irreversible negative ‘gut feeling’ to a recruiter

Communication: All forms of your communication will be judged throughout every interaction of the interview process including all emails, texts, phone conversations, and interviews. Proofread, be polite, professional and don’t use slang or emoticons.

Timeliness: Turning up to the interview on time isn’t the only important ‘deadline’ that a candidate needs to meet. Make sure you interact quickly and consistently with your recruiter at every touch point as this plays a major factor in how your level of engagement is perceived.

Consistency: inconsistent interaction is a major red flag for a candidate, especially to the seasoned recruiters who are particularly sensitive to this. During the interview process make sure that you check your email, texts, messages and phone regularly so that you don’t miss responding to important messages from the recruiter.

Thank you letters: Some hiring managers expect a post-interview thank you letter so play it safe and send one after every interview. Check out my blog post here on the do’s and don’ts of a post-interview thank you letter.

Attention to detail: Most job postings will advertise ‘attention to detail’ as a must-have. Make sure you read and listen to all the recruiter’s instructions carefully, and cross your t’s and dot your i’s before sending any written communication.

Negotiation: How you behave during the negotiation process is viewed as a huge indicator on how you’ll behave as an employee. Be realistic, be responsive, show respect, be timely, and show gratitude even if the offer is lower than you expected. Although it hasn’t happened often, I’ve rescinded a number of job offers because of the way a candidate behaved at the offer stage.


Be aware that you’re being judged on a lot more than how you perform during the interviews. A candidate who behaves responsively, respectfully professionally, punctually, politely, and (last but not least) consistently throughout every touch point of the interview process will significantly increase their chance of being successful.

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