The Personal Touch: Why Face-to-Face Interaction Still Dominates the Hiring Process

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While talent sourcing is a critical issue for hiring managers, assessing that talent is a separate and exceedingly distinct challenge.

As has always been the case, you can only mine so much information from someone’s resumé. And while there is more and more information about job candidates posted on social media, hiring managers continue to rely heavily on face-to-face meetings to make their final decisions.

To better understand the mindset of hiring managers, Lee Hecht Harrison surveyed 277 human resource managers responsible for sourcing or hiring talent. The respondents came from organizations of all sizes and major industries across North America, Latin America and Asia-Pacific.

The survey showed that most hiring managers rely heavily on social sourcing sites like LinkedIn®, which helps connect them with millions of motivated candidates, all accessed via the right keywords. As such, it’s a great tool to help identify a pool of talent with the right skill sets and experience. But in today’s talent management world, that only gets you so far.

Our survey confirmed that personal contact—referrals, networks, face-to-face meetings—are enduring tools in an increasingly digital world.

We asked survey respondents to indicate how effective each of the following networking methods was for sourcing candidates.

Networking Methods Effectiveness 
Traditional Networking Meetings 7.3
Online Networking 7.1
Professional associations 6.7
Industry-specific conferences 6.5
Topic-specific conferences 6.1
Community business or professional events 5.8
Tradeshows 5.6
Alumni events 5.5
Career fairs 5.3
Open online communities 5.2
Company-sponsored online communities 4.9


Ratings based on a 0-10 scale, where 0 represents "Not at all effective" and 10 represents "Very effective."

What does direct personal interaction provide that online technologies cannot? According to our survey, hiring managers need that personal contact to find someone who can make the best “fit” with an organization and its culture. And that is fast becoming just as important as, if not more important, than skill and experience in the hiring process.

It is also important to note that hiring managers are increasingly leveraging technology to create those opportunities for personal contact.

Many organizations are hosting virtual career fairs and participating in online communities to reach out to as many potential candidates as possible. These powerful tools can help bring together talent and talent-hungry organizations. However, the survey showed that hiring managers believe these tools work best when there is a third party to advise candidates to ensure they are applying for the right jobs.

In these scenarios, a ‘talent connector,’ someone with a comprehensive understanding of both the company’s needs and the candidates’ skills and attitudes, can help organizations maximize the likelihood of getting access to someone who fits both the organization's culture and the job.

Examining the survey results, it is clear that hiring managers are already moving towards a “next-phase” model of talent management where technology and traditional personal contact work hand in hand.

To learn more, download our full report here.

Contact us to learn about career transition and outplacement.

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