SmartRecruiters Blog

Hiring is a Human Activity

As much as we like to use technology and analytics to help us make hiring decisions, there is nothing quite like the human connection. In HR (and most of other industries) automation is the way to increase efficiency and reduce any form of favoritism or intentional discrimination. With all of our technology and processes to assist us, there is no such thing as a perfect candidate selection – sometimes you have to go with your gut, because after all hiring is a human activity.

If all things are equal, meaning equal skills, education, professional experience and abilities then the hiring decision comes down to what they call “likability” or “fit.” Determining who fits can be difficult. I’ve written before about how hiring decisions and candidate selection should stay on the side of fact based data, rather than feelings. Let me be clear, I’m not changing my stance – hiring decision should be made in favor of the best candidate, determined by successful interviewing, assessments and background checks. I’ll say it again, if all things are equal, then you have to go with that feeling you get about the person during the human interaction.

Many candidates have several interviews with several companies – and believe me – all companies are not created equal. Just as the interviewer is judging the candidate, the candidate is judging the interviewer and the company. From the cleanliness of the parking lot, to the way they are greeted, all the way down to the delivery of the questions being asked.

Let me give you three real life recruitment experiences: two from candidates and one from a hiring manager. *

Courtney accepted a position with a company and is pretty happy; however she was contacted by another company just weeks into her new job. The other company had a bigger brand name and more prestige than her current company. She spoke to them and they were very pleasant and upfront. There was mutual interest. For a week or so, Courtney thought about the opportunity and how her current company interviewed her, compensated her and onboarded her. She decided to stay.

When I asked Courtney why she decided to stay with her current employer instead pursuing a perceivable bigger opportunity, she said, “I had a good feeling and connection with my employer.”

Bill is a hiring manager at a major hospital. He’s been in HR for a long time and has seen a lot. Once he decides to interview a candidate, he already knows that person is qualified and capable, so instead of focusing on structured interview questions, he focuses on personality based questions. He wants to, in his own words, “get the know the candidate on a personal, yet professional level.” Bill often goes with his gut to make a decision but that gut feeling is based on the human connection he makes with the candidate.

When I asked Bill why he prefers the nontraditional interview style, he said, “I’m looking for a connection with the person that will make working with them enjoyable.”

And finally, Terry arrived on time for his job interview, and when the three panel interviewers came to greet him, no one shook his hand. Once they arrived at the interview area, they asked him if he wanted coffee. He said, “Yes,” but they didn’t get him a cup, they directed him to the coffee station. Terry had no human connection, they did not make him feel welcome and they did not show any hospitality.

Terry reflected on the experience, “I had a bad feeling about that particular company. I could not see himself working for a company like that.”

Notice the common dominator? Feelings and connections. Humans have feelings. We make connections and build relationships based on those feelings. HR is human resources. We can automate our processes, use assessment tools, weighted interview questions, and other tools to help us select candidates but in the end we must remember that our work is full of human activities.


Gladiator In A SuitChris Fields is an HR professional and leadership guy who also helps job seekers write great resumes and blogs. His work can be found at & 

*Name’s are changed for the sake of privacy. Photo Credit NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, flickr.

SmartRecruiters is the hiring platform with everything you need to source talent, manage candidates, and make the right hires. Check out more interview tips on our blog.

Chris Fields

Chris Fields is an HR professional and leadership guy who blogs and dispenses great (not just good) advice at Cost of Work & ResumeCrusade.