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The Importance of Empathy in Hiring

Welcome back!

It’s not exactly revolutionary to say that the pandemic changed a lot of things about workplace life… but it continues to prove true. One thing that has become increasingly more obvious to workplace professionals is that the old ways of hiring are becoming less and less successful and that a new approach has become necessary.

This can mean a lot of things, but our favorite one is this: 

Successful, long-lasting hires are more likely to occur when empathy is part of the hiring process. 

Why is empathy in hiring important?

As the world shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we all hunkered down as we experienced a life-altering situation together — and we truly began watching each other experience it. Whether it was on social media, Zoom, Facetime, or any other form of digital communication, our struggles suddenly became one, and we all became a little more aware of each other’s struggles. 

Hiring experts are noting that this elevated level of empathy toward one another’s experiences has had a positive effect on hiring practices. Adding a more human element to the hiring process has resulted in lowered turnover and higher-quality hires. 

What does empathy in hiring look like?

Empathy in hiring can look like many things, but at its core, it simply means approaching your hiring conversations and processes with compassion and the understanding that certain circumstances don’t necessarily dictate the work ethic and talent of a candidate. 

One way to use empathy in hiring is by bringing it to the interview. Instead of looking at it as a transaction, or a test, try approaching it like a conversation you are genuinely interested in. If you focus on the fact that you are trying to make a connection with a person, rather than boil it down to a basic evaluation of their abilities, you are much more likely to get an idea of what kind of employee that candidate might be. 

Be crystal clear about your hiring process. Keeping parts of your process secret or unclear can elicit stress and fear in applicants. Remember, people do their best work when they are happy and confident (I’m sure you do, too!), and rather than trying to keep people on their toes and catch them off guard, you’re more likely to make a high-quality hire if you are honest with your expectations. 

Simply remember that everyone encounters trials and tribulations and that those problems will affect employee work at some point. Making an effort to explore past the typo in someone’s resume, or their nerves in an interview, means you’re more likely to find a good fit, instead of passing over them for something that was likely caused by a moment of stress. This, of course, does not mean to hire someone despite multiple “red flags,” but simply being open to exploring their other strengths before making your decision. Here at Pathway Design Group, we’ve always been big fans of empathy, and we’re excited to see this trend picking up some traction in workplaces across the country!