Hiring: Taking It Personally

As a manager, I’ve found that I mostly have two jobs: bringing great people onto the team, and creating the conditions for their success. The second job is the reason I became a manager — there’s nothing more satisfying than seeing people achieve greatness in both the value they create and their own professional development.

But the first step is getting those people on your team. And hiring great people is hard, even when you and your colleagues are building the world’s best hiring solutions! By definition, the best people are scarce and highly sought after.

At the risk of giving away my competitive edge, I’d like to offer a word of advice to hiring managers: take it personally. That is, make the hiring process all about the people you’re trying to hire and the people on your team.

How does that work in practice? It means that everyone on the team participates in every part of the hiring process — from sourcing to interviewing to closing. A candidate interviews with the team he or she will work with, so everyone is invested in the process. The interview questions reflect the real problems the candidate would work on. And interviews communicate culture in both directions — by the end of the interviews, it’s clear to both the interviewers and the candidate whether they would enjoy working together.

I’ve seen and been part of impersonal hiring processes. And I  understand how the desire to build a scalable process can lead to a bureaucratic, assembly-line approach. But I wholeheartedly reject it. Hiring is fundamentally about people, and that means making the process a human one for everyone involved.

And taking it personally extends to sourcing. Earlier this week, the LinkedIn data science team hosted a happy hour for folks interested in learning more about us and our work. Of course we used our own technology to identify amazing candidates, but I emailed everyone personally, and the whole point of the event was to get to know one another in an informal atmosphere. It was a great time for everyone, and I can’t imagine a better way to convey the unique team culture we have built.

I’m all for technology and process that offers efficiency and scalability. But sometimes your most effective tool is your own humanity. When it comes to hiring, take it personally.

By Daniel Tunkelang

High-Class Consultant.

5 replies on “Hiring: Taking It Personally”

I can’t agree more. Recruitment is about people and there is no room for impersonal approach. I like your approach on discussing the real problem during the interview.


I am Ambassador for the Greenleaf center for Servant-leadership EUROPE and also for Marshall Goldsmith. Ik like this approach, since it is a great contribution to “the war for talent, talentmanagement, teamspirit and- last but not least- NEW Leadership. Hats off!


I agree with the idea but I dont think that this is “the” way to hire. It cant be generalized. I feel that it depends on who you are hiring, the position, the team size and so on .. also, may be unrelated, finding out whether a person is fit for a role or not over coffee/by a single call may not be the right way to screen.


Koos, glad you agree!

Kiran, thanks for the comments. I’m not sure what you mean that it can’t be generalized. Of course every company and team is different. And I’m not suggesting that a single call or meeting determines fit — of couse we look at accomplishments and evaluate skills as objectively as we can. But we do this as a team — and as human beings.

This isn’t rocket science — if fact, I think of it as common sense. But I’m surprised that large companies filled with intelligent people don’t always recognize the value of making the process personal.

For a laugh (or cry), read the following post:


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