Larry Polhill of Cafe Valley on Empathy and Hiring

Larry Polhill of Cafe Valley is an expert on recruitment and human resources. As an experienced HR professional, he has come across different kinds of job requisitions and applicants, and through the years, he has identified certain attributes that recruiters and hiring managers alike look for in applicants. Today, he writes about the often-overlooked role of empathy in the hiring process, and how an applicant can use it to help land the job he/she wants.

Larry Polhill of Cafe Valley believes that employers now tend to be more discerning when it comes to choosing a person to hire. While there are some can’t-miss prospects that stand out based on their skills and experience, many employers choosing between applicants with similar skill sets often make their decisions based on certain soft skills, such as communication skills, teamwork, or presentation skills.

One trait that is fast gaining traction among recruiters is empathy. While empathy has long been sought after for customer-facing roles such as customer support, Larry Polhill of Cafe Valley has noticed that it is now being applied to other roles, such as recruitment. Many recruiters pass up on otherwise-qualified candidates because they tend to see things in black and white; however, a good recruiter should be able to see a better picture of an applicant beyond what is written on his/her CV. This is driven by a desire to know more and to dig deeper into a candidate’s background.

Of course, a recruiter will not have enough time to empathize with every candidate that comes his/her way. Empathy should be used wisely and its proper utilization can only be learned through experience; there are no hard and fast rules for determining if a candidate, despite or because of the submitted CV, will be a good fit for the role and the working environment.

While technical skills are important in technical roles, Larry Polhill of Cafe Valley believes that showing some empathy towards a recruiter can also help a candidate land the job he/she is applying for. A recruiter may ask an applicant a question that might seem out of the blue, but instead of dismissing the question outright, a successful applicant finds a way to make the question all about the recruiter. This shows the recruiter that the applicant would like to know more about the job and is not just some sort of question-and-answer automaton. This is particularly effective for face-to-face interviews, where the body language of both the applicant and recruiter speaks volumes about their interest about each other.

This interest also extends to the job itself. A candidate who shows empathy is more likely to be a good teammate, someone who is willing to go the extra mile to ensure that a project or task is finished on time. By “going the extra mile”, we are referring to the willingness to not just do a task, but to learn about it, and by extension, understanding how his/her teammate performs it. Empathetic people are also more likely to suggest changes in business processes that have positive impact on the employees involved.

Thank you for reading this article. If you would like to join the discussion, feel free to leave a comment below. Larry Polhill of Cafe Valley appreciates your honest feedback.


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