3 Principles of a Human-First Approach to Hiring Talent

Technology continues to transform the HR space, but companies must not lose sight of the human element of hiring and recruiting. Hiring managers must step back to mold processes, tools, and culture around candidate needs. After all, the current number of job openings in the United States exceeds 11 million. And with more open positions than applicants to fill them, candidates can be more selective than ever.

A human-first strategy helps organizations come out on top in today’s competitive hiring landscape. Leaders looking to attract the best talent should follow these three principles to elevate the candidate experience above the competition.


Hiring managers must lead with transparency during the talent acquisition process. Candidates should know exactly what the position entails to determine if it’s a good fit and worth their time to apply.

For example, an organization should divulge salary ranges and expected core competencies upfront to applicants. This transparency gives candidates the information they need to decide whether to apply, prepare for an interview, and highlight the skills the company expects for that particular role. The interview process becomes deeply rooted in understanding candidates and what they bring to the company.

Hiring managers should also share company values with candidates, which allows applicants to determine whether their values align and whether they’d thrive in that culture. Transparency provides comfort, and when people feel comfortable, they’re more likely to show their true colors, which is critical for hiring managers tasked with making hiring decisions.


Another essential component of human-first hiring? Communication, especially within the hiring process. Candidates should be updated regularly in real time, and an organization should share information about the typical hiring process within a job posting. For example, hiring managers can include estimated timelines from application receipt to first contact. So, if a company typically contacts candidates within 10 days of receiving their application, potential candidates can send a follow-up e-mail if they haven’t heard from that employer once the tenth day has passed.

Communication must also include honesty. Not all hiring managers are familiar with the nuances of specific roles. When they screen a highly technical candidate, for example, it’s important to be upfront about not knowing everything about the role. However, hiring managers should tell candidates what to expect throughout the remaining hiring process. Candidates expect and respect candor, and clarity and honesty ensure candidates won’t be left wondering what’s next, whether or not they move to the next round of interviews.


The third piece of the formula is deeply rooted in preparation. Like candidates, hiring teams need to prepare adequately for every interview. Excellent preparation takes time but pays off because teams can:

  • More effectively evaluate candidate skills.
  • Create a positive candidate experience.
  • Have a better chance of winning over candidates they’ve identified as a good fit for the company.

So what does great preparation look like? Interviewers should determine the most essential skills for the role and build questions around those skills. Behavioral or situational questions are most effective because they encourage storytelling and require candidates to think on their feet. Generic, widely used questions rarely provide an accurate or a robust assessment because candidates can find many sample answers online. Deeper questions tailored to a specific role yield more insightful responses that can be helpful for narrowing down candidates.

Hiring teams should also read résumés, profiles, and applications to gain a more complete picture of their candidates, even before they hold the interview, and employers should make notes for each potential employee. Preparation provides comfort to hiring teams during the hiring process, which creates consistency.

The hiring process makes a significant impression on prospective employees. And that impression can be good or bad, depending on the level of preparation, communication, and transparency from the HR department.

Taking a human-first approach leads to a smoother and less stressful candidate experience. High-quality candidates generally want to work for a company that offers transparency and extra communication. They expect hiring teams to take the time to fully understand them and what they have to offer. While not all candidates may fit a particular role, by taking a human-first approach, hiring managers build connections with candidates and keep the door open for future opportunities.

Britteny Soto is Director of Talent Acquisition, Justice Equity Diversity and Inclusion & Enablement at Encamp. Britteny Soto leads Encamp’s justice; diversity, equity, and inclusion; and talent acquisition efforts with a human-first approach, educating through awareness of intersectionality and empathy. Before coming to Encamp, she served in various other people and talent acquisition roles since 2012. This year, she was recognized as one of the top diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB) leaders of 2022.

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