Empathy and Genuinity in Recruiting

Empathy Genuinity_OP_Blog_Nina L

Looking back at SourceCon Vegas and the sessions I attended, I can’t help but recognize how each one continues to influence my workday.

With tips on candidate engagement, technical sourcing tactics, and discussions on platforms and tools to find the best candidates, SourceCon provided days worth of knowledge-bombs that resonated with me and enhanced my practice as a research and sourcing specialist.  

There was one session, however, that stood out to me then and continues to be on my mind now. It was Glen Cathey’s “Social Engineering: The Human Element of Sourcing and Recruiting.” This session addressed the fundamentals of using empathy to increase your candidate engagement success, as well as your own personal successes in placing the brightest candidates in the best positions.*  


As recruiters and sourcers, we often get caught up on focusing on the hard skills – aka the skill set we can physically check off. This can include education, experience, tenure, etc. Obviously, important information to figure out, however, Glen reiterated that it’s just as important to understand the very basic needs of that candidate.

First, understand that all candidates want to be understood, a key way to do so is by being empathetic. Asking your candidates questions that allow you to probe deeper into their decision making skills or motivations for leaving can be anything like the following**

  • What does a typical day at work look like?
  • What do you hear/feel when talking about your company, online or offline?
  • What are the pain points you feel at your workplace?
  • What do you see when you are at work? What is the environment like?
  • What are your biggest fears?
  • What are your biggest hopes?


By being genuine, complementary, and truly sincere in your conversations, you’ll get to understand the depths of a candidate’s career goals, their motivation for looking, what interests they have outside of work, and ideally you’ll be able to develop a strong relationship.  

Here’s how: After asking questions to further develop a sense of a candidate’s personality, utilize what you find to possibly understand their reasons for leaving a job and currently looking.  

For example, a recruiter who has been successful could have quit their job because it became TOO competitive and the environment was miserable/stressful. Initially, you’d think they were not in the right field considering recruiting is a competitive industry. However, asking such empathetic questions (as suggested above) can guide the candidate into revealing that it might have been the company’s processes, not being compensated for exceeding expectations, etc. Therefore, they would be an excellent recruiter for a different employer and the conversation can continue from there.  

Both having empathy and being genuine contribute to being likable.

By being likable and competent, as well as not being afraid to leverage humor, you are able to develop a strong rapport with the candidate and understand each other’s needs and feelings.

Don’t be afraid to make them smile! As humans, we feel first and think second.  

Understanding the emotions involved from a candidate’s perspective provides insight into their decision-making processes. Be open to connecting with them about a particular situation or feeling they are going through and recognize their soft skills, just as much as their hard skills.

Finally, think of what it is like to be on the receiving end.  

What would be the point of communication without comprehending and resonating with the other individual? In our personal lives, it brings us to the strongest and healthiest relationships, therefore we should not fear from incorporating it into our recruiting and sourcing tactics to bring the highest level of success to our candidates as well as ourselves.   

* For further research, check out Chris Hadnagy, Author of Social Engineering: The Art of Human Hacking, and creator of the Social Engineering Framework as referenced in Glen Cathey’s SourceCon Vegas, 2018 presentation.

** Source: https://www.handigital.com/blogs/hiring-with-empathy-and-why-it-matters-to-companies

Nina Luzzo_OP_SourcerNina Luzzo, Research and Sourcing Specialist at Objective Paradigm-Talution Group, is a graduate of DePaul University. Nina studied Sociology: Law, Crime and Criminology, in addition to dedicating much of her free time to tutoring at the Quantitative Reasoning Center at DePaul. Nina thrives on new approaches to old problems through data analysis. Connect with Nina on LinkedIn.

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