Incorporating empathy into your recruitment strategy is essential for attracting and retaining top talent. We’ve gathered insightful suggestions from CEOs, HR professionals and recruitment experts, ranging from asking open-ended questions to practicing empathic questioning. Discover how these industry leaders are making the hiring process more compassionate and effective.

Ask Open-Ended Questions

Ask open-ended questions for candidates. This shows applicants you care about getting to know who they are as a professional, and it’s a street where both parties can benefit. For example, ask them about the type of work environment they thrive in or the type of manager they prefer to work with. It shows empathy while also examining a good cultural fit.

Christy Pyr
Chief Marketing Officer, Paradigm Peptides

Craft Thoughtful Reply Messages

Recruiting with empathy means showing your candidates and teams that you understand their needs and are sympathetic to their current situation. This can be easier said than done, as recruiting through modern technology can make it harder for recruiters to form meaningful relationships with individuals.

To be successful, one suggestion is for recruiters to craft prompt replies in the same tone and style as the individual’s original message. For example, if a candidate has shared a courteous answer, then don’t use casual language or slang when making your reply.

Crafting reply messages in this way allows the recruiter to show understanding and respect and create an authentic connection, even from behind a computer screen. Doing so contributes great value to any recruitment strategy by demonstrating care for people regardless of application outcomes.

Tasia Duske
CEO, Museum Hack

Use Job Fit Assessments

One way to add empathy to your recruitment strategy is to help candidates understand how well they will do in the job before they begin. Job fit assessments help identify the tasks, work environments, and competencies that are most aligned with their strengths.

This shows that you care about their success and career development and want to help them find the right fit. Assessments also provide feedback on areas for improvement, increasing self-awareness, and understanding of growth opportunities. By reducing job dissatisfaction and improving career decisions, job fit assessments can benefit both the candidate and the company.

Linda Scorzo
CEO, Hiring Indicators

Embrace VR Technology

One effective way to add empathy to the recruitment process is to put yourself in the candidate’s shoes. Virtual reality (VR) technology presents a unique opportunity to do just that, as it enables recruiters to gain an immersive experience and truly empathize with candidates on a deeper level.

When HR professionals use VR technology, they are better able to understand what it’s like for a candidate during the recruitment process, helping them foster better engagement and create an overall more inclusive recruitment process.

This can lead to higher-quality hires due to improved candidate engagement. VR technology enables HR professionals to understand their potential hires better and make more informed decisions during recruitment.

By emphasizing empathy and using innovative tools such as VR throughout the recruitment process, organizations can attract talent that brings value through their skill set and unique perspectives and contributions.

Vivian Acquah
Certified Diversity Executive, Amplify DEI

Prioritize Transparency

The key to empathy in recruiting is transparency. At ECA Partners, we find that being as transparent as possible throughout the hiring process builds trust and also allows candidates to understand what to expect, preventing unnecessary disappointment further down the road.

As an example, we don’t tell candidates they are a perfect fit for a role if their background isn’t exactly what a client is looking for. Instead, we signal that while they have a great profile and we’ll be happy to put them in front of our client, there may be certain areas that could be a sticking point for the client.

I firmly believe it is possible to keep a candidate engaged while setting expectations and letting them know why, despite their impressive background (and all the candidates we interview are impressive), they may not move forward to the next stage. That transparency goes hand in hand with setting expectations and keeps candidates from taking possible rejections personally.

Tony Topoleski
Project Manager, ECA Partners

Personalize the Recruitment Experience

In order to add empathy to your recruitment strategy, it is important to consider techniques such as customizing the recruitment experience for individual applicants. For example, instead of sending a generic automated email or message after an applicant submits their paperwork, you could reach out with thoughtful personalized communication.

This communicates respect and consideration during a vulnerable time in an applicant’s life when they are searching for a job, while also personalizing the process and creating an open dialogue between them and your team.

By genuinely investing in candidates’ experiences throughout the recruitment process, employers can build trust and develop relationships with those they want to join their organization.

Amy Ling Lin
CEO, sundays

Offer Interview Support

Many people find interviewing to be both intimidating and exhausting, especially if it’s been a while since they’ve looked for a new job. By providing interview prep resources to candidates, you can acknowledge these challenges while signaling that you want to see them succeed.

Document the interview process, including interviewer profiles and the questions or topics for each session. Provide candidates with guidance on how to speak to their strengths and accomplishments. Give tips for how to succeed with presentations, case studies, and technical sessions. Offer prep calls before important interviews to answer questions and boost confidence.

GEM Recruiting AI

Not all candidates will need these resources, but the ones who do will be grateful for the extra support. Even if someone doesn’t get the job, they’ll remember your empathic and fair approach and be more likely to refer other candidates to your company in the future.

Alex Lahmeyer
Founder and DEI Consultant, Boundless Arc

Implement Video Interviews

In today’s world, empathy is a vital aspect of any recruitment strategy. According to a LinkedIn survey, 96% of recruiters believe candidate experience is critical in the recruitment process. One way to add empathy to your recruitment strategy is by using video interviews.

Video interviews offer a more personalized experience for candidates, allowing them to showcase their skills and personality in a comfortable environment. They also eliminate the need for travel, which can be stressful for candidates. Recruiters can use this opportunity to showcase the company culture and values, making candidates feel more connected to the organization.

A real-life example of this is Unilever, which shifted to video interviewing during the pandemic. As a result, they saw a 50% reduction in time-to-hire and an increase in candidate satisfaction.

Himanshu Sharma
CEO and Founder, Academy of Digital Marketing

Create Empathetic Job Descriptions

Candidates today are looking at dozens of job descriptions, some of which can sound too technical and intimidating. By adding empathy to job descriptions, an employer can make their jobs sound much more inviting and show that they care and value their employees’ contributions. Taking a step back to understand what candidates are looking for is a step in the right direction.

If they are looking to grow in their career, but the job requires a highly specialized skill set or certification, adding more empathetic language can make your company seem more personable. For example, “This requirement may be challenging, but we’ll be here to support you on your journey” lets applicants know that this is an organization that not only understands how difficult it is to meet every requirement but is a company that will support them in their career growth.

Ultimately, adding empathy to your job descriptions can help you attract and keep top talent while taking a more human approach.

Grant Smith
Global Employer Branding Specialist, TD SYNNEX

Address Educational Biases

Many companies still carry educational biases that cost them to lose suitable candidates. Here’s how I tackle this issue by adding empathy to my recruitment strategy. Collect the candidate’s resumes and provide them with a separate form with more specific questions related to the job role. The questions can be about the candidate’s knowledge of certain tools or their approach to solving specific problems.

This process would allow the applicant to show their skills, enabling the employer to assess their proficiency more effectively. During in-person interviews, I enjoy allowing the candidates to explain why they could not meet the academic criteria. I maintain an open mind and a positive attitude while receiving the candidate’s response.

Finally, it is crucial to compensate candidates based on their skills rather than their degrees. Doing so would encourage individuals to upskill, creating a more inclusive and unbiased work environment.

Raju Thammala
Founder, WebPipl

Provide Honest Feedback

Candidates can deal with not getting a job. What frustrates and disheartens people is the perception that they didn’t get a fair shake.

We’ve all been on the receiving end of heartless ATS-driven form letters that coldly inform us that, “while we were impressed with your skills and experiences, we elected to move forward with other candidates.”

They are useless. Sure, they are better than being ghosted, but they tell the candidate nothing about why they missed the mark.

Instead, give feedback. If you know during the interview that the candidate will not be selected, cut it short and tell them why. If it’s after the fact, personalize your rejection by adding a line about where they fell short. Yes, it’s hard and uncomfortable. But most often, people respect honesty and appreciate insight.

Tim Toterhi
CHRO, Plotline Leadership

Practice Empathic Questioning

Irrespective of their confidence level, candidates experience feelings of judgment and apprehension throughout the recruitment process. Therefore, showing empathy is crucial in alleviating their anxiety. The pinnacle of the recruitment process takes place during the job interview. It is thus crucial for HR professionals to show empathy during this critical moment.

The meeting should not take on the tone of interrogation but be an interesting dialogue. Rather than asking questions like “Why do you want this job?” it is much more effective to inquire about the individual’s driving force. Similarly, instead of asking how one handles stressful situations, it is better to show interest in the emotions experienced when faced with an obstacle.

So the key to success is in the art of asking the questions. This approach not only puts the candidate at ease and encourages them to open up, but it also benefits the company in the long run.

Martyna Szczesniak
Community Expert, MyPerfectResume