Psychological safety in the recruitment process

5 ways to communicate psychological safety to potential hires

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Susanne Bryhn

Senior Consultant, Sweden


+46 70 531 3425

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Psychological safety has become a cornerstone for many organisations striving to foster a healthy, productive workplace.Whether your organisation has naturally embraced psychological safety or has made a concerted effort to integrate it, the benefits are likely already evident. But how does commitment to psychological safety impact the recruitment process? And why is this important? Two words: talent and innovation.

So, let usstart with the talent. The top candidates, that you really want to attract and bring into your organisation, have options. They will not stick around if they feel uncomfortable, unheard, or disrespected during the recruitment process. They willchoose a company that treats them with dignity and respect — one that makes them feel psychologically safe.

As innovation is another key factor, the most forward-thinking companies cultivate a culture of open dialogue and risk-taking, starting with the recruitment process. By fostering psychological safety from the outset, you encourage candidates to express their creativity and critical thinking. You show them that it is acceptable to challenge norms and think innovatively as well as bringing their own personal approach and experience to the table. And this mindset is vital for any organisation looking to push boundaries and drive progress.


Communicating psychological safety to potential hires


A potential new job can be both exciting and somewhat stressful for candidates. They can often learn a lot about your organisation from your digital channels, job description, corporate brand, and more. But often they are meeting your organisation first hand for the first time — and it is your responsibility as a recruiter to make them feel welcome and safe.

Not yet knowing if the organisation is a safe space, candidates often fear, that they will come off as weak or vulnerable, if asking about psychological safety in the workplace. Thus, they often don’t ask directly about it during interviews.”
— Susanne Bryhn, Senior Consultant, Compass HRG Sweden

There are plenty of ways of showing how your organisation is creating an inclusive work environment. One of the easiest and most effectful is simply giving the potential new colleague the opportunity to meet a co-worker in the organisation — or maybe even the person of the job, that the candidate is applying for, if the situation allows it.


Five easy ways to communicate psychological safety to candidates.


1. Promoting an Atmosphere of Support

During a recruitment process it is essential to convey to potential hires that your organisation values psychological safety. This can be achieved by emphasising the supportive culture during interviews and interactions. Let candidates know that your organisation is committed to their personal well-being and that you will provide the necessary support for them to thrive.


2. Foster a Sense of Equality

Creating a sense of equality between you as a recruiter and candidates is vital. When candidates feel they are on an equal footing, it can help reduce the intimidation often associated with job interviews. Make sure to encourage an open dialogue and make it clear, that their thoughts and questions are valued.


3. Transparency and Openness

Be transparent about the organisation’s values and practices regarding psychological safety. When sharing examples of how psychological safety is integrated into everyday operations and decision-making processes, the transparency helps building trust and reassures candidates, that they will be entering a supportive environment.


4. Active Listening and Empathy

During interviews, practise active listening and demonstrate empathy. Showing genuine interest in the candidate’s experiences and concerns not only makes the candidate feel valued — it also sets the tone for the type of environment they can expect within the organisation.


5. Collaborative Recruitment Process

Involving multiple team members in the recruitment process is reflecting the organisation’s collaborative culture. This not only provides a more comprehensive view of the candidate, but it also allows the candidate to meet potential colleagues and experience the team dynamics first-hand.


Onboarding, retaining, and maintaining — psychological safety within the organisation.


By embedding the above five principles into the recruitment process, you can attract and retain top talent who are confident that their new workplace is one where they can truly thrive.

You are promoting an atmosphere of support, fostering equality, being transparent, practising active listening, and adopting a collaborative approach, that can ensure that potential hires feel safe and valued from the very beginning.

When onboarding a new colleague to the organisation it is crucial to continue the communication of the psychological safety. Explain the coming process and job start — and prepare the candidate to become a success in their role.”  — Susanne Bryhn, Senior Consultant, Compass HRG Sweden


But integrating psychological safety into the recruitment process is more than just a best practice; it reflects your organisation’s commitment to a healthy, inclusive work environment.

Remote work and hybrid work is calling for new ways of communicating and creating psychological safety, so how do you as a company and manager navigate in these relationships?

Establishing psychological safety during the recruitment process is at least as crucial as maintaining it once a candidate has been hired and integrated into the organisation.
— Susanne Bryhn, Senior Consultant, Compass HRG Sweden


In fact, psychological safety should be offered for everyone — potential, new, and existing employees — in the organization. Remember to make sure to follow through with personalised onboarding of the candidate, communicating how to become a success in their role. Together with the rest of the organisation.


Want to know more about Psychological Safety?

As a recruitment partner Compass Human Resources Group are always seeking to prepare you on how to show and communicate psychological safety to candidates in the recruitment process. And we also prepare the candidates to discuss this a potential new employer to secure a proper match.

The concept of psychological safety has gained significant traction over the past few years. Are you unfamiliar with the term or seeking a refresher, we recommend the Harvard Business Review article “What Is Psychological Safety?” This piece offers an excellent introduction to the concept and highlights the work of Harvard Business School professor, Amy Edmondson, who has dedicated over two decades to researching “team psychological safety.”

For a deeper dive into the subject, Edmondson’s book “The Fearless Organisation” is also highly recommended.


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