Why Businesses Shouldn’t Discount Nervous Candidates

By now you know that during the interview process you will come across all sorts of candidates. From 100% driven candidates to more easy-going, amicable candidates. From very analytical, detail-oriented profiles to more high-level, get-things-done profiles. And, of course, in almost any recruitment process you will come across the overconfident candidate. Confident candidates are really good with smooth talking, they look you in the eye, they have an answer for every question you ask them and they just seem very on top of their game. And often, it works, because in our culture confident people are often perceived as successful people.

Nervous candidates, on the other hand, are almost immediately categorized as less successful. And a lack of confidence very often has a negative impact on the interview outcome because it is simply more difficult to be impressed by a candidate that is twitching in their chair, shy to make eye contact, stuttering or over-thinking their answers.  No matter how good the resume and credentials of the candidate are, a nervous appearance during the interview more often than not does not help to convince the recruiter or hiring manager. So, in general, the confident candidate very often has a huge advantage over the nervous candidate in the recruitment process thereby making it more likely the confident candidate gets the job.

However, what if your business is missing out on some very good profiles because of their lack of confidence? Although you might think that nervous candidates are not a good fit for your business, you might have to dig a little deeper to know if maybe they actually are. Because behind that nervousness could also be a very great profile for your open position.

And, let´s face it, interviews are nerve-wracking moments for many candidates and since so much depends on these, they can get even more stressed. Therefore, the interview might not be their best moment and hence it can give a wrong impression of their true personality. Maybe instead of immediately discounting nervous candidates, it´s about making them feel at ease (as much as possible, they will probably still be nervous no matter what you do) or inviting them back in for another conversation so you don´t discount them just based on one moment during which they were very nervous.

In addition, although at first sight you might be more convinced by the (over)confident, seemingly successful candidate, you also need to think about your team dynamics. Unique personalities and a mix of different people is what makes up a good team so you might want to consider the balance, a whole team of overconfident people will probably not be very effective.

And finally, have you thought about the possible setbacks of hiring confident candidates versus nervous ones? Because although confident candidates might seem more successful, the most confident candidate is sometimes also too good to be true. Apart from the fact that overconfidence can often be perceived as arrogance or indifference, both of which are not great characteristics for a co-worker, it can also lead to other negative behaviours in the workplace. Think about, for example, criticism of colleagues´ abilities, the perception of superiority compared to their peers, over-commitment of tasks, or the inability to learn from one´s mistakes. If you consider these, maybe the nervous candidate might not be such a bad fit compared to the overconfident candidate! Overconfidence can really have a bad influence on the working atmosphere whereas nervous candidates might need some more time to feel comfortable and fit in, they will eventually not disrupt as much because they won´t give this perception of superiority and arrogance.


In your experience hiring different candidates, why shouldn´t we discount nervous candidates? We would love to read

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