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Hiring Is an Emotional Exercise: 4 Tips for Selecting the Best Candidate

Have you ever looked at a set of résumés and felt totally overwhelmed? When you read a cover letter, do you find you get caught up in their personal story more than what they might be able to do for your company?

When searching for new people to bring into your organization, there are some days when you have to dig deeper for the inspiration. But, it’s well worth it. Interviewing people can be a tireless and thankless job, but when you walk through the halls of your office, remember that those interviews and all the emotional energy you spent went into getting the best talent for your team.

Why Is Hiring Emotional?

To start, the stakes are high for everyone involved. For the candidate, it’s their livelihood and a big sense of themselves that they risk for a new job. For the hiring manager, it’s the responsibility of making the right decision for the team. For senior level people, it’s the accountability for the cost spent on each hire, as payroll is the biggest ticket item for most organizations.

There is no doubt about it: Hiring people is the most important decision in building a successful team. If you make a mistake, it’s very visible that you made one. It can follow you for a while. There is a lot of passion and emotion around the organization when you fill a role. Many people on your team may want to contribute opinions about candidates, and you will, of course, have your own wish list in mind.

You’ll never take all of the emotion away — you can’t. Thankfully, there are four surefire ways to minimize the emotion and help you get to the best candidates to build your team:

1. Step Away. As a business leader, you must be able to separate yourself from the emotion. As you meet candidates and either evaluate them yourself or have an HR team help you, there must be separation from all the feedback that comes in. You don’t want your office to become the complaint department through the process, so you cannot be seen reacting to all the feedback that comes in. Some of it you’ll have to take on the chin. Perhaps your team doesn’t like your top choice of candidate, or they really want you to consider someone you feel is unsuitable. Don’t manage and investigate every comment that comes in. Some of them you shouldn’t investigate at all, which leads to the next suggestion…

2. Bucket it. You may have learned the hard way that following up on everything is a lose-lose situation for all. You can’t be available to validate every comment that comes in. What you can do is bucket the types of feedback or complaints you receive, then work with your team to address them. This way, you don’t get caught up in the same challenge every time you’re looking to hire someone.

3. Follow the law. There are cases when things will be emotional, but they must be addressed. If someone tells you something went terribly wrong, for example, someone reported discrimination, or there is a legal risk, you have to act. Whether it is unintentional or a gap in process, these are the ones you have to manage specifically — and as they come in. Managing them quickly also saves damage to your brand as an employer.

4. Set and manage expectations. If you have been promising your team a new role to help with an area, it’s important to be open about the progress with your candidate search. Sometimes it takes a while to find the right fit, sometimes an offer falls through, or the candidate takes a counteroffer. It’s in your best interest to be transparent about the process and help get the team to the result of a great new team member.

Everyone Gets Emotional

If you’re generally not an emotional person, know that hiring is not just about you! It’s emotional for everyone involved on some level, from your colleagues to the candidates themselves. Understanding your strengths and weaknesses will help you through this process and allow you to remain positive as you approach your end goal.

If you’re clear on the end goal, you’ll know that part of that is about finding harmony and fit for your work culture. As you go through the process of meeting candidates, think about whether you are connecting, and how the conversation flows between those who are doing the interviewing and the potential candidate. This process is emotional, because at the end of the day, people want to work for people they like, admire, and respect. You are evaluating if a stranger will fit in with the network you’ve built in your workplace, and they, too, are evaluating if you are someone they want to interact with every day.

It’s good to remember that emotion can affect the energy that is put into a conversation or interview. From the beginning of each hire, make sure you are separating yourself, if there is a possibility that your influence will cause a significant shift in positive or negative energy. Use this influence to your advantage by getting the right people on your team engaged in interviewing and assessing candidates. Don’t let emotion get the best of you when looking for your next great hire. There is comfort in knowing that everyone can get caught up in their feelings during the search!


Jeremy Eskenazi is an internationally recognized speaker, author of RecruitConsult! Leadership, and founder of Riviera Advisors, a boutique Recruitment/Talent Acquisition Management and Optimization Consulting Firm. Eskenazi is not a headhunter but a specialized training and consulting professional, helping global HR leaders transform how they attract top talent at some of the world’s most recognized companies. For more information, contact: Jeremy Eskenazi,

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