As a follower of Liz Ryan, I’ve read multiple articles on how to make the workplace more human. Thankfully, I have a supportive manager who empowers me to test out my new ideas in this regard. Here’s a story of what happened when I tried a more human-centric recruiting approach recently.
I received an application from an individual for one of our open positions. To protect his identity, let’s call him “Bob.” After going through the initial screening methods and deciding to give him a chance, I extended an invitation to Bob, asking him to meet with one of our hiring managers on site.
Fast forward to the day of the interview: 30 minutes past the scheduled start time, Bob still hadn’t shown up. My manager suggested that I call to check up. I contemplated just letting it pass and rejecting Bob in our system, but I ultimately I made the decision to be more human and follow up instead.
When Bob picked up the phone, what I heard was the voice of panic. “I’m so, so sorry I’m late, Allan. I input the wrong address into my GPS and arrived at the wrong building. I’m lost!” After reassuring Bob that things would be okay, I asked him where he was and guided him to our location.
It took a little bit of effort to help Bob feel relaxed, since he was so flustered when he arrived. After calming him down and offering him some snacks and beverages, I went off to see if I could still connect him with a hiring manager. Because Bob was late, the interview schedules were a little off, but I managed to find an open time slot for him.
After all the interviews were conducted that day, the feedback that I received was to move forward with the stronger candidates. Unfortunately, Bob wasn’t one of them.
Now, what surprised me about Bob was that he showed determination. He managed to schedule another open interview time slot for the next day using our appointment scheduler. In the message, he talked about one of our company core values (experimenting without fear of failure) and how he wanted to take the risk of seeing if he could have another shot at interviewing again.
I admired his tenacity, but after following up with the hiring manager again and getting another hiring manager’s opinion, the decision was to still move forward with the other candidates.
It can be difficult to tell someone about not progressing to the next steps of the interview process. Sending auto-rejection letters is a robotic, pain-free way to do it, but after what Bob went through, I felt he deserved a more personal response. I gave him a call instead and empathetically shared with him the decision.
A few days later, I received a mailed letter from Bob. I debated whether or not to share it here, but I think it’s appropriate — and powerful — to do so:
In the end, it takes more effort to bring a human approach to this relationship-driven business of recruiting, but the positive impact you can have on others is well worth it.
What happened to Bob? We still keep in touch as he searches for the next step in his career. What’s great is that Bob is now indirectly part of our team: he’s become an advocate for the company!
A version of this article originally appeared on the author’s LinkedIn.