Recruiting Reflections: How Core Values Should Guide Us Towards Compassion

The holidays are here, which is the perfect time to reflect on accomplishments, along with failures, improvements, and best practices for the coming year.

I've been in recruiting for a number of years. One of the many ways I assess and prep candidates for interviews is by utilizing my core values. As a company, Binc has a set of core values that each of us connects with, as the broader set for our team and company. Binc has supported and acknowledged that each person has their own set of values and we are encouraged to connect and embrace those values for authenticity in our client and team-member interactions.

Below are the 5 values that I personally connect with the most.

  • Integrity

  • Accountability

  • Diligence

  • Perseverance

  • Discipline

How I use these values in assessing and working with candidates:

Integrity: During the first call with a candidate, I ask behavioral questions that are aimed at telling me more about the person beyond the resume. This is not about checkmarks on technologies or tools used or even a generic script to follow. This is the first step for me to get to know another human being. During the interview process, I’m attentive to how a candidate interacts with interviewers, how they describe their interactions, and their honest opinion about the company and team, as well as where they’re at in terms of company interest. The key here is honesty. Setting expectations with high regard for honest interactions have not only helped me to hire candidates, but in the process, allowed me to become lifelong friends and colleagues with hires, and allowed me to leave behind a memorable candidate experience.

Accountability: When a candidate performs well, we re-visit the amount and type of prep that went into the success, and channel that to the next steps in the process. When a candidate does not perform well, we take the time to discuss what could have been improved. I firmly believe that recruiters, candidates, and hiring teams should all be held accountable to make the hiring process a successful one. When far too many candidates don’t make it through interviews, I take that data and review with hiring teams, to assess for where accountability has fallen behind.

Diligence: Interviewing is tiring. The amount of prep that recruiters often send can be overwhelming. I frame interview prep in a bigger picture so that candidates can see why they have to do A, B, and C in order to successfully pass interviews. For example, my advice is often for engineering candidates to take at least ten minutes per day to work on practice problems. Ten minutes per day, five days per week will add nearly one hour more of prep time for that candidate than the next one. The key here is a persistent effort, and getting candidates to understand that, for better results, interviewing requires an effort beyond their day to day programming.

Perseverance: We all have lives that come with problems, challenges, and issues in all forms. Be understanding of the difficulties in a candidate’s life, and provide the encouragement to help them persevere through it, especially when they are juggling interviewing and working to showcase their best skills at the same time. For candidates with difficulties, create and help them stick to a plan. For example, a candidate of mine had personal family court matters, so we developed a timeline around that, and worked out a way for this candidate to interview months later. He was ultimately hired because we persevered through, with understanding and support from the company and hiring team.

Discipline: Core values are not just fluffy words to make us feel good. Above all else, I encourage candidates to showcase their code of behavior, alongside their talent and skills. I ask critical questions of candidates: Why do you get out of bed in the morning? What makes you continue to do what you do, beyond the money and shiny nice things? Train yourself to do better, and to want to do better, for not just yourself, but for the world. Think about your global impact, and how your discipline will get you there.

When it comes down to it, core values are about humanity. Showing compassion to a candidate during interviewing, while also understanding that interviewers on your panel may have completed 20+ interviews for the week, while still performing their jobs, will add much more value to one’s career. As recruiters, I know the metrics-driven environment and being held to numbers can be stressful, much like interview nerves, or feeling burnout as an interviewer. This is where my use of strategies such as MBSR (mindfulness-based stress reduction) comes in handy.

You may or may not believe core values are critical in recruiting, but with over 125 offers accepted and 4 declines in the past four and a half years, the data I’ve collected shows otherwise. Understanding core values mean understanding your candidates, and being able to align that with a company’s needs to ensure we’re all working towards a bigger picture in the grand scheme of things.

Lillian Truong-Gaertner