Technically People
Technically People

Episode · 1 week ago

Empathy: The Only Way to Win with Candidates and Employees


Interviewing isn’t The Hunger Games. The goal of interviewing is to hire, says this week’s guest Nate Smith. And yes, he agrees it’s somewhat ridiculous to point this out, but he believes he has to. The Founder and CEO of Lever says too many hiring managers, especially in tech, interview as though they were proctoring an exam. Too often, people look hard for evidence of how a candidate *won’t* fit, verus how they will. 

Empathy is the better way. At best, an interview is uncomfortable, says Nate, whose company does all it can to make the process feel more natural. Candidates can use keyboards, editors and languages with which they're familiar. They can search Google. 

That replicates how a candidate would go about their tasks at work. Nate asks, rhetorically: Don’t you want to know how a candidate will perform in your actual work setting?  

“Look for every example, every bit of evidence, that this person would be amazing on the team,” says Nate. “And when you find that amazing person, it's really important that, during the interview process, they've been falling in love with your company.” 

By the time you extend the offer, then, they’ve already decided: Yes. 

At Lever, empathy isn’t just a must for hiring. It pervades every part of the company’s culture. Listen in to find out empathy fosters trust, deepens relationships and attracts and retains exceptional talent.  

Episode Highlights:

  • Empathy is about centering what you say and do around what matters to the individual
  • How to run an empathy-based interview
  • Advice for recruiters: Stop telling candidates how great your company is. Instead, say this: “Tell me about you.”  
  • Why understanding a candidate’s preferences allows you to tailor your offer to show how you can meet their needs 
  • The role of empathy in helping employees grow in the directions they want 

Check out these resources we mentioned during the podcast:

Find every episode of Technically People on Apple, Spotify and more. Find us on our website and join the conversation on LinkedIn.

Listening on a desktop and can’t see the links? Just search for Technically People in your favorite podcast player.

Welcome to technically people acommunity conversation by and for workplace futurist brought to you bythe tech recruitment platform built in the podcast features, insights fromleaders, thinkers and doers on the vanguard, building human centeredworkplaces of the future along the way you'll hear concepts thatwill stop you in your tracks, concepts that inspire you to ask yourself.What's the most future forward way to approach my people leadership, we allknow the future of work isn't waiting around. So, let's get on with the showtie. Everybody welcome to the show. I am your host Tiffany Myers and I'mhappy to introduce our guest Neat Smith. So nate is the CEO and he's the founderof Lever Lever is a talent acquisition suit. It provides ATS and carmcapabilities in one product lever puts empathy at the center of everythingthat it does. It was built on that foundation, and so today, mate is goingto share how it does so with recruitment with hiring and withpretension so nay. Thank you so much for being here with us today, like youtipity. So last we talked you shared with me, something that is prettyunique about one of your tools, which is lever nurture, and it's just seemedto me that it has a lot to teach people about best practice in recruitmenttoday. Can you talk a little bit about that? Absolutely what we look to designsoftware, we're actually really trying to think about. Not How do you buildsoftware that just automates things? Obviously that's really useful, butalso software that develops deep human connection, develops relationshipsbetween people and it's a really hard challenge to build software that feelshuman, but it's so much more effective, especially in the world of recruitingwhere really building relationships is fundamental to the role and to whatyou're doing to bring value to the company and in order to build greatrelationships. A lot of what you need to do is to be empathetic. So when youthink about how do we develop relationships outside of work or evenwith our colleagues a lot of times, we think about asking them what'simportant to them understanding a little bit about them, maybe a littlebit about their history. Do we take that same approach when we're talkingto candidates? What does this person really care about, and one of the waysyou can do, that is through tools like lever, nurture where you can actuallybring a variety of voices to bear? You can have a recruiter, a hiring manager,someone that person might work with on their team, I'll, send emails in anautomated fashion and that really engages candidates. It makes it showthat you care about them as people. You want to build a relationship with themand you really understand the kinds of connections to the company that mightbe of value to them. Yeah and it's really imperative in this outrageouslytight market in terms of talents. Engineers are not responding to genericemails, so you're talking not just about the fact that you have a tactcapability but you're talking about changing the conversation when youthink about harder to fill roles, it's even more imperative that you go theextra mile to have a great candidate experience and we find that empathy isa big part of that. If you send an email to someone that says hi, I'mcontacting you from a company has a really great brand or we've raised alot of money or we're growing really quickly. We have a really fancy officewith Ping Pong. You sound just like everyone else like that is a completelyundifferentiated statement. These days, everyone has a great culture and agreat growth rate according to them. What's different is when you talk tosomeone, and you listen- and you say hi like tell me about you and yougenuinely care to know, and then you can share with them something that'struly in response to what they bring to the conversation that actually standsout. Yeah absolutely, and so I think we can move on to talk about how theinterview process, once we get past...

...that different way to connect withcandidates in the sourcing. The interview process is really humancentered at Leverton, and it's also based on this astonishing revelationthat an interview is not like the hunger games. It is not actually acompetition. This is actually some feedback. I've found is reallyimportant for folks who are a bit more technical in background, in particular,when you are coming from a role where you know, you think it's your job tohelp make sure that we're having really high quality people. Sometimes youmight think of that as giving a test like I'm giving this person exam, and Ihave to be fair and delivering that exam, and you know evaluating howpeople do according to that. Well, really, what is your goal? Your goal isto hire people. You want to hire people that you're going to work with, and sodoes it really matter. If you proctor an exam. No, what matters is you dofind out who's going to be a great fit for the company? Absolutely you do havea way to assess whether their skills are going to translate well and tobeing successful in this role, and you want to be looking for every singleexample, every single little bit of evidence that this person would beamazing on the team and then also when you find that person who is amazing,it's really important that the entire time they've been getting to fall inlove with you and fall in love with your company, and that doesn't happenwhen you put on a stone face when you're you approach it, and you say,I'm just going to be really objective and I'm not going to tell you how Ithink that doesn't build relationships. The way you build relationships is aprocess of giving and sharing and asking and listening- and I always say,don't be afraid to compliment people and interviews. That's a crazy idea tosome people is like if someone says something and you're like wow. That wasreally impressive, like I've actually never heard anyone answer that questionbefore that way. So interesting like say that make that person's Day enjoyit like. Let them have a laugh, really have a human connection and when itcomes time to trying to hire that person at the end of the process andthey've got six different offers from a bunch of companies that are bigger andhave more money. The only way you're going to win that candidate over is ifthey just genuinely believe that this is what they want to do with their lifea little bit more than those other options, and you also do something thatmight you know be shocking to the people who think that interviewing is afight to the finish, which is that you replicate experiences that feel mostlike I'm doing my work at home or I'm able to work with with the codinglanguage I'm comfortable using absolutely. I think, there's no reasonto make it hard on people artificially and in fact, what you really want to dois find out. Is someone going to be successful when they're in anenvironment, that's as close as possible to like the real workingenvironment and when you're at work you use? Google, you take notes, you usethe keyboard your accustomed to you. Use the language that you're mostfamiliar with in a million ways, you customize your experience to yourselfat work and an interviewing process can be really unsettling for the candidatewhen everything is totally different from their. You know, normal real lifeor the way they normally are at work. So we really structure ourselves tothink. What's every single way we can think about to just make stuff a littlebit more natural? Let people bring their own keyboard in if they're doingin in office interview. Why not let people use the editor they're familiarwith what people use the language they're familiar with, because thegreat people that you want to have on your team. Those skills will comethrough when people are enabled to do their best work, yeah, so bringing inyour own keyboards, like text version of Bringin, your own binkie feel alittle bit more comfortable in a super uncomfortable context. Exactly everylittle thing you can do makes a huge...

...difference. You know, and this isactually something that is starting to happen a little bit more. We just did apodcast with Educative, which is a company that creates online learningfor engineers in particular, and the founder said that some of the samecompanies are actually giving candidates courses before the interviewto help them do well in the interview on whatever skill it is or whatevercoding language they'll need to be using. So it seems like it's a goodidea at any time, but I don't know I just echo your your principal, which isdon't you want your best candidates to really want the job by the time theyreach the end of the cycle of interviews? Don't you want them ifthey're the best to want to team up with you yeah, it's a lot like when youhave employees and you're thinking about performance, reviews andcompensation you want to think about. How do I retain and motivate my verybest talent? I think that applies to the interview process as well. If youcan say, I want my very best most qualified candidates to have the bestexperience possible. What would you do and how would that be different than ifyour thought was? How do I weed out the people that are good enough, yeah thatit is like a performance evaluation in terms of how that is shifting as well,where you know it's no longer about looking at what went wrong in the past,but focusing a little bit more on looking into the future and what thepossibilities are there. So I think there's a lot of trending along thesame lines. I wanted to just ask you about something I thought was reallyinteresting when you told me about it, would this approach to interviews thatyou were inspired by top grating, which is at least the way that you'vemodified? It is a method that helps companies understand patterns across acandidates career over time and how helpful that can be so explain a littlebit more about this. So top crating is an interview format. Instead of methodsthat's been developed, and I there's a top grating organization and thattrains people on how to do interviews. We've adopted some of that learning toinspire an interview format that we call the career trajectory. I mean wealso use it throughout our process in terms of how we think about creatingstructured interviews that get to the heart of people's motivations. How dopeople make decisions? How do people work with others and other patterns ofbehavior that you can evaluate for an interview? But it's hard, because whenyou ask questions like what are your strengths and weaknesses, you're goingto get a prepared response and someone when they're answering our question,that way is probably over thinking their answer. They're trying to createa story that sounds good to you and the typical my biggest weakness is I worktoo hard. It's like come on. No one's learning anything right, so one thingthat we think is really important is that you get to the heart of thosequestions, though it's really important to get to the heart of what aresomeone's strengths and weaknesses. We do all have them and the way that youcan do that is by putting things in context if you go and work throughsomeone's life and chronological order. If you talk about the people, you talkabout the jobs they had and exactly what they were doing in the day to dayyou're going to get more accurate representations of what really happened,and then you can draw your own conclusions about what that person,drinks and weaknesses are a lot more accurately from hearing about theirpast behaviors, as well as their motivations in the ways that they'vebehaved in the past. So it's primarily a way of getting more honesty and moreability to really get to know someone truthfully. So, just like saying at mybiggest weakness is I'm I'm like just too perfect, I don't know just too perfect but anyway, so there'salso. Another element to this, which is recruiting, is a sales role, and Ithink it's your point of view. You've expressed me that we're not necessarilyleveraging all of the tools in the...

...sales arsenal and that, if you knowpeople's patterns throughout their career, you can then make an offerbased on okay. You know someone has left a job for another, because thatnew job helps them grow or learn so they're very learning focus. So you canthen underscore you know that you as well are going to give them learningopportunities. Do I have that right? Exactly people do often repeat priorbehaviors, they often repeat prior decision making and that's somethingyou can use to your favor when you're figuring out. How can you present theopportunity to the candidate in a way? That's most appealing to them. So ifyou can hear in their telling you a story about why they moved from one jobto another, some insight into what motivated that you can then use thatinformation to describe how your job also has a similar motivation.Alternatively, you might find out wow someone's taken a job throughout theircareer, for these other reasons, but they've told me now they're thinkingabout the future differently, and then maybe you can talk about how this isdifferent from what they've done before so once you really get to know someoneon that deeper level, why they thought things what they've done in order overtime. You really could you could almost say back their story: You're able tocraft a really great narrative around an offer, that's more than just here's,the salary, here's, the benefits, here's the location and what teamyou'll be working on, because you really want to stand out from the crowdand it's so it's just that offer is then so particular and unique to theindividual. Exactly so all right, we know, we've established that levercares a lot that you care a lot about empathy, and then I can extrapolatewhat that means, which is that you are also looking for empathic employees. Sotell me how, in an interview, you can determine that there's a lot of different ways andagain it's more important that people show that they're empathetic then thatthey say they're empathetic. If you say, are you empathetic everyone's going tosay yeah, of course, but how do you actually observe empathyand I think one of the ways that you can do that is and how people work witheach other? It comes out the most, so we have, for example, in ourengineering interview process, an interview format called the projectinterview and in the project interview, we ask you to talk about and describethe details of a project that you worked on with other people and whenyou do that, we learn a lot about your technical skills. We learn if you werethe person who was more the architect and came up with the plan for what youbuilt, or maybe you were the person who you just wrote the most coat. You werethe person who banged it out. Everyone relied on you because there's no waythe project would have gotten done on time. If you hadn't done so much of thegruelling work and you were really persistent or maybe you were the personwho was pushing the team to be creative and Youe brought new ideas, and youcame up with really clever solutions and no one else came up with. We canalso ask questions about what did you observe about other people? Did you go to this person that you worked withreally closely for their expertise and learn from them? Did you teach them?Did you ask them what they wanted to learn in this project and thencustomize what you did a little bit to help them be able to work on the thingthat they want to work on there's so many different ways that people canshow empathy through their behavior that once you get into some of thosesituations and how they literally interact with each you can ask factbased questions to get a really great understanding of who reallydemonstrates empathy. So, let's shift a little bit in talkingabout engagement and retention because, as every one who is listening right nowknows we have the great resignation barreling towards us, which is: HasPeople leaders extremely concerned and...

...focused on okay? How can I modify myapproach to attention so tell me about lovers, approach, yeah, well,controversial opinion. I frankly am not a huge believer in engagement surveys.I think the challenge is that when you get them back, what are you going to do?There might be some concrete things in there. Maybe you could get a sodamachine or a Ping Pong table, but who's going to stay up the company longer,because you got some sort of perk, or maybe you added a couple more vacationdays to the calendar, I'm not saying that those things aren't important orthey don't matter, but is it really going to make the difference in termsof your retention of employees? I just don't think it's a big enough thing togive them. I don't think it's important enough to actually make the differencein change people's minds. So what is big enough- and I think the thing thatis big enough- is opportunity. If someone feels like the thing they'redoing is catapulting them forward in their career, they're learning fasterthey're getting to have more impact, and when you go back and you tell thatstory about how the company was successful a couple years down the roador you talk about a really dramatic event that happened as the company wentthrough crisis. Can You articulate a story about how your role had impact?That's how our employees are thinking, and so what we want to be able to do isagain have empathy for that individual and ultimately find opportunities forthem to be. That engaged to feel like they belong to feel like the their work,has impacted to feel like they're learning, so that they're deliveringmore and more value to the company they're at, but it's also settingthemselves up for a great career down the road and what's the best way to dothat. Well, a lot of times the best way to make sure people have that level ofimpact in that level of career acceleration. It's internal mobility,so talent acquisition, I would argue, is actually the very most importantthing that we all can do to retain our employees longer and sometimes thesubject of I'm bored in my job can be taboo. So what do you do? Well, whatyou can do is you can certainly create a culture around the fact that peoplecan apply for rules internally. That's a feature of lever is there's aninternal job site. You can promote that in your company. You can say this issomething we value and care about, and then you can find out when someone whoyou think is an amazing employee says I need a new opportunity lean in and keepthat person around, because if you don't they're going to be gone, you'regonna have to backfill them and you're also going to have to still hire forthis other role that they might have been a great fit for. So ultimately, myanswer to what do we do about the great resignation let's check in with ouremployees? Let's ask them: Are they still learning or are they stillgrowing and if the answer is no offer him a new job? I think this idea of the subject of I'mgetting a little bored here. I don't feel like I'm growing. It is oftentaboo. So I imagine that your response to alleviating that stigmas that it hasto be systemic and cultural, and you have to have very transparent that youwant people to be applying to other roles internally. By the way I wouldlike a soda machine you're talking, okay, you got a sow to machine. I wouldlike diets right in there every week- and I don't know- maybe some bubblingso okay, ours, even in the way that you are using okay, ours. You are doing soin a way that ties into empathy and also a way that this engagement, okay,ours, are a great system and a lot of companies have chosen to use it to helpmake sure that the company internally is more focused on what it's doing sothat it can be more successful and some of the best attributes of OK RS arethat it's both top down and bottom up. In other words, you set o Kars at thecompany level typically, and that can then be expanded into Okar's atdepartment, levelteam level, individual...

...level, and then you can see if thosethings all tie together and that's really important. You can also haveOkar's that come about because, for example, a team says this is a reallygood goal. We want to do this, and then the department sees that and says. Thatis a really good goal. Let's make that a department goal or the company evenbrings it all the way up to the top and says we want everyone doing this. Thisis a great idea, so I think it's a really powerful system to connect thecompany across different levels, and it also is a forcing function forcollaboration, because different organizations can say I'm doing this.This other team is doing this. If we're all doing those things, are we actuallyaligned and are we going to get our goals done or we take up too much? ISTHEIR GAP? Are we not doing enough? So that's got. You know why? Okay, oursare great in general and in particular one thing that at lever we try andfocus on is that it's easy to get lost in all that detail. It's easy forpeople to create really great goals and make them measurable and they've gotall these chrs and they know how they're going to measure them and therethey get going, and then they completely forgot. Why they're doingwhat they're doing so? This is good. Empathy thing is: You need to realizethat it's a lot for people to keep all these different goals in their head allthe time, and you need to remember as a leader in particular, but reallyeveryone on the team can help with this, that bringing people back to. Why didwe do this? To begin with is a really important part of the objectives andyou can get really lost in the deton eget to do that. So one thing: We doit's a simple thing, but I think it's really important is we have the okayours on a slide at every all hands, along with a lot of other dashboardsand look into how the company is doing, and I just read through the objectivesevery two weeks and I say: here's the objective: I read it and I say here'swhy we did that: here's, how we're doing it against that and that keepspeople from getting too lost in all the detail and brings them back to. Why dowe even do this to begin with Yeah Yeah? I feel like understanding that I'm partof something bigger might matter more to me than diets bright, we'll get you there tiffany. So howabout we moved a little closer to the end of our recording today and get yourget needs two minute take away. So if you had to share a couple key pointsthat you want listeners to either understand or do about all the topicswe dove into today, what would they be? What I'd really want people to takeaway? Is that number one empathy is something that you should work intoevery context of your work, relationships from bringing people onto the team to making sure they feel connected to what the team is doing andcontinue to be engaged over many years with a company. The second thing Iwould underscore is that in the interviewing process, your goal is tohire people so remember at every single step, from initial reach out to closeyou're trying to discover. Is this person a great fit for my team, and howcan I get them on my team and then the final tip I would say, is it's reallyimportant to stand out from the crowd and one of the best ways you can do,that is by being empathetic and basing everything you say in what matters toan individual yeah. That's right! Less me me me. I just think it's reallystriking that the idea that your goal is to hire people as a recruiter ismaybe not as intuitive, but it's just because so many other things get in theway. Right. Absolutely so neat tell me how our listeners, if they wanted tolearn more about you or get in touch with you. How can they do so absolutelyLepardo Co is where you can go to find out about all things lever. We've gotan upcoming number of Webinars, a customer conference. That's open toabsolutely everyone happening in mid...

September. We'd love to see you at oneof our virtual events: Great Lever, Dat, Co net. This has beenreally a fun conversation thanks. So much for exploring your take and leverstake on just how powerful empathy is going to be in the few future workplace for our listeners. Thank you for tuning in I'll. Just remind you tosubscribe to the show by visiting. Technically people com would love afive star review if you like what you're hearing and you want to hearmore conversations like it. So I will be back with you next week were we'llhave another conversation about sheeping, a human center and a PallidFuture of work built in is a tech recruitment platform. That's inconstant dialogue with leaders about the future of tech, Bilton's podcast.Technically people expands those conversations to help fellow futuristcreate and lead exceptional workplaces, environments that inspire in DemandTech professionals to join your company and thrive to learn how building canhelp your company attract besting class professionals, visit employers topbuilt Incom you've been listening to technicallypeople a community conversation about the future of work. If you want to hearmore cutting edge ideas about creating human center work, places subscribe onyour favorite, podcast player and you'll never miss an episode and if you're over the moon about whatyou've heard we'd be honored. If you took the time to give us a five starreview so signing off until we meet again in the future, I.

In-Stream Audio Search


Search across all episodes within this podcast

Episodes (17)