Behavioural science and it's impact on recruitment - Part 3

Behavioural science reducing stereotype threat
Tom Stroud
Reading time:
4 mins
June 29, 2023

In the third and final blog post in our series on the impact of behavioural science in recruitment, I consider how behavioural science can be used to improve the candidate experience. 

Recruitment and selection processes are vital in shaping an organisation's success. However, the candidate experience throughout this process can significantly impact various aspects of talent acquisition. Let's explore how the application of behavioural science can improve candidate experience, enhance selection outcomes, and strengthen employer branding. HR and Talent Acquisition professionals will gain valuable insights, practical advice, and tips to optimise your recruitment strategies.

The importance of candidate experience

It's widely understood that candidate experience influences multiple aspects of the recruitment process. Firstly, it affects the recruiter and hiring manager's ability to identify top candidates accurately. Stressful recruitment environments may deter some candidates who, despite their potential, do not perform well in such conditions. Creating an inclusive and supportive atmosphere improves the chances of employers attracting a diverse pool of high-quality applicants.

Secondly, candidate experience serves as the initial impression of potential colleagues and your organisational culture. It sets the tone for how candidates perceive interactions with their future colleagues and reveals fundamental company values. By creating a positive experience, organisations can establish themselves as desirable employers from the start.

Lastly, in the digital era, candidates have the means to share their experiences through a plethora of social media platforms and job sites. A poor candidate experience can quickly spread, damaging an employer's brand and impacting future recruitment prospects. Therefore, organisations need to prioritise candidate experience to maintain a positive reputation and attract top talent.

The relationship between stress and performance

Understanding the relationship between stress and performance is crucial for optimising your recruitment process. Studies suggest an inverted U-shaped relationship, indicating that moderate stress levels can enhance performance on memory tasks. However, deliberately creating additional stress during the selection process can lead to adverse outcomes.

Stereotype threat refers to the psychological phenomenon where individuals in a stereotyped group experience anxiety and pressure when facing situations that could confirm negative stereotypes associated with their group. 

These individuals become aware of the negative stereotypes about their identity, such as race, gender, or ethnicity, and the fear of confirming those stereotypes hampers their performance, leading to underperformance or decreased self-confidence in that specific domain. 

Stereotype threat can significantly impact individual performance, potentially creating unfair disadvantages and perpetuating existing biases and inequalities.

Highlighting their group identity or priming them to think about it negatively impacts their performance. To mitigate these effects, employers must ensure a fair and inclusive assessment process that minimises stereotype threat.

Practical Tip: Avoid creating stereotype threat in the assessment process by refraining from highlighting demographic information at the beginning of application forms or tests. Instead, collect this information at the end of the recruitment and selection process to prevent bias.

Leveraging behavioural science for enhanced performance

Behavioural science offers valuable insights into optimising performance during the recruitment process. By implementing evidence-based techniques, organisations can create an environment that fosters the best performance from candidates.

Power Pose and Priming Techniques: Studies suggest that adopting a "power pose" or priming individuals to feel powerful before interviews can enhance performance. HR professionals can incorporate these techniques by encouraging candidates to engage in power poses or providing opportunities for empowering self-reflection before crucial assessments.

Changing Perceptions of Stress: Shifting candidates' views on stress from a sign of weakness to a motivating force improves long-term performance outcomes. HR professionals can help candidates develop a positive mindset towards stress, framing it as a catalyst for growth and motivation.

Practical Tip: HR professionals can implement strategies such as pre-interview power poses, empowering self-reflection exercises, and stress mindset interventions to optimise candidate performance.

Gathering feedback for continuous improvement

Feedback plays a crucial role in enhancing the candidate experience and refining the recruitment process. Organisations should provide feedback to accepted and rejected candidates and seek their input on the overall process.

By collecting feedback from candidates, organisations can gain valuable insights into their impressions of the company, the reality of the assessment tasks, and the fairness of the process. This feedback allows HR professionals to make data-driven improvements and create a more transparent and inclusive recruitment experience.

Practical Tip: Regularly seek feedback from both accepted and rejected candidates. Consider their perspectives on the company, the assessment tasks, and the fairness of the process. Utilise this feedback to refine and improve future recruitment strategies.


The candidate experience during the recruitment process holds significant importance for organisations seeking to attract top talent and build a positive employer brand. By leveraging insights from behavioural science, HR and Talent Acquisition professionals can enhance selection outcomes, create a supportive environment, and minimise biases.

Through practical strategies such as avoiding stereotype threat, implementing performance-enhancing techniques, and actively seeking candidate feedback, organisations can optimise the candidate experience. By doing so, they not only improve the quality of their hires but also strengthen their employer brand and enhance future recruitment prospects.

Investing in behavioural science principles and prioritising candidate experience will position organisations as employers of choice, attracting exceptional talent and driving organisational success in the dynamic talent acquisition landscape.

I hope you've found this mini-series exploring the impact of behavioural science on recruitment and selection of interest. If you'd like to learn more about how Tazio uses many behavioural science principles to improve employers' recruitment processes, get in touch today.

Tom Stroud

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