candidate experience

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 Looking back on my career, I can recount numerous times when I’ve voted against offering a candidate the job or have rescinded a job offer due to poor Candidate Behaviour.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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interview tips

Before I launch into this one I’m going to answer an initial FAQ on this topic: “Should I send a thank you letter after my interview?”

Answer: Yes. Every Time you interview with everyone you meet.

Although not every interviewer expects a thank you letter, many of them do (trust me!). And most of those that do feel strongly about it, and will consider it a ‘black mark’ on a candidate if they don’t send one. Therefore I recommend that you play it safe and always send a thank you letter every time you interview with everyone you meet.

So how do you ensure that your thank you letter will leave a great impression?

A quick google on this topic will likely confuse you because there are so many differing and contradictory views, blogs, and resources online about thank you letters. Alas, it seems that there is no agreed ‘best practise’ on this topic but luckily, with 10+ years of recruiting ‘wisdom’ behind me, I have listed my top ‘Do’s and ‘Don’ts’ that will ensure that your thank you letter will leave a great impression:


Keep it short.
People are generally busy and don’t have a lot of spare time to read a lengthy email so make sure your message is concise and to the point – 200 words max!

Show authentic gratitude.
The purpose of a thank you letter is to show gratitude to the interviewer for their time and effort, not to further sell yourself. You had your chance to sell yourself during the interview and the reality is that the interviewer has already made up their mind.

Inject some personality.
People with personality are generally more interesting and more likable. Of course keep it professional, but don’t be afraid to show your personality in the message.

Cite a specific conversation.
While keeping tip #1 in mind, cite a specific conversation you had with the interviewer. This will show that you put genuine thought into the letter, and (if the interviewer has had multiple interviews that day) it will help them remember which candidate you are.

Reiterate your interest in the company.
Briefly mention a specific positive experience you had during your visit, and reiterate why you are attracted to the company and it’s culture.

Send it within 12 hours (and at a reasonable time).
A quick and timely follow-up will help to prove that you’re genuinely interested in the role. Don’t send it at a ridiculously late hour or during the workday (if you’re currently employed and supposed to be working!). A good time is between 6pm and 8pm on the same day of the interview.


Don’t Ramble.
No one likes a rambler, and no one has time to read a rambling note. Keep tip #1 in mind and keep the message concise and to the point.

Don’t use a template.
There are 100’s of thank you templates available on the internet. Don’t use one! They’re ‘cookie cutter’, impersonal, and easy to detect. If an interviewer receives 2 highly similar thank you notes from 2 different candidates then you’ll both likely be rejected.

Don’t over-sell yourself.
Remember that the intention of the letter is to thank and show gratitude. Remember, the interviewer has already made up their mind so further selling yourself can be interpreted as ‘over-selling’ which could quickly put your application in the ‘no’ pile.

Don’t forget to spellcheck.
Of course, make sure that there are no spelling or grammar errors in the letter. Take it one step further than a basic MS word spellcheck: is a great free tool that will check for 250 types of grammatical, spelling, and punctuation mistakes.

Don’t use emoticons.
Keep the message professional. Even if you had a great rapport with the interviewer, smiley faces and winks won’t reflect well on you ;P.

Don’t send it from an unprofessional email address.
Don’t use the personal Gmail address that you created when you were 16 years old with a ‘69’ in it – you won’t get the job!

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