According to a survey by JDP, 93% of candidates say they have felt nervous before an interview. This is of interest to recruitment teams for two key reasons. Firstly, talented people are not excluded from experiencing anxiety, and so to ensure you are able to identify the best candidate, being prepared to quell their stress so their skills can shine is key. Secondly, taking the steps to mitigate candidate anxiety can contribute to an employer brand that is positive and inclusive. Keep reading to learn how your talent team can prepare for anxious candidates.

Be flexible

Flexibility can allow candidates to request basic adjustments that are already on offer with flexible hiring processes, which can be helpful to candidates who may have stress around not only their interview and application, but also about raising their hand for support. Flexibility could come in the form of where you hold your interviews, such as by giving candidates the choice between in-person and virtual. Additionally, there are disabilities which can impact people’s ability to interview to the best of their ability that may be a struggle to get a formal diagnosis for. For example, in the UK, there are 5 million people who consider themselves to be neurodivergent, but only 120,000 have been formally diagnosed. This is in part due to the long waiting lists, as there 172,022 patients with an open referral for suspected autism alone in December 2023 – the highest number ever reported.

There are also, of course, obligations employers have towards physically disabled candidates to ensure they have as fair a chance as possible. What can be even better for employer brand and ensuring the top talent is snapped up, is going above and beyond in these areas. Check out our articles on ensuring your hiring process is blind inclusive and deaf inclusive.

Break the ice

Candidate anxiety can sometimes be reduced by building a positive rapport with them before or at the beginning of the interview. This can look like greeting them genuinely, introducing yourself as well as anyone else present at the interview, and making some relevant small talk. For example, you could speak positively about a part of their initial application, boosting their confidence and easing them into the mindset of speaking about their experiences and skills.

This can not only help candidates who are anxious, but also enable your recruitment team to get to know them better on a personal level, which can be useful when deciding if they would mesh well with your organisational culture and values.

Prepare Your Candidates

You may choose to share interview questions in advance to allow candidates to fully prepare and not feel like a deer caught in the headlights if they are asked an unfamiliar question. John Lewis have taken on the practice of posting their interview questions online to improve inclusivity in their recruitment process.

Explain the process of the interview in writing at least a couple of days before it takes place, and then recap that explanation at the beginning of the actual interview. This can include specifying the number of questions, how much time the interview is expected to take up, the topics you will discuss, that you are happy to repeat questions if needed, and the next steps after the interview.

Candidates are often expected to have some company knowledge during interviews but there can often be an overwhelming amount of information online leaving them unsure of what to prioritise. Therefore, your recruitment team can share some direct links to relevant resources which will inform them about the most important company details before their interview.

Follow Up

Candidate anxiety can persist or even worsen in the aftermath of an interview, so a warm follow up can be extremely helpful. This means sending them an email which thanks them for their time, updates them on the status of their application, lets them know when they should expect the next update, and if possible, some personalised feedback. This can play a significant role in ensuring a good impression of your employer but can be a time-consuming process.

This is where a robust recruitment solution which can automate such processes and streamline the entire hiring process can be highly useful. With Hireserve, Royal Botanic Gardens Kew were able to rethink its team structure due to the support afforded by the Hireserve software and make a tangible cost-saving of around £16,000/annum due to the reduced administrative work.

Learn about the Hireserve solution here.



About the author

Hannah Elliott