The Human Factor: Why Personal Connection is Still Important in Hiring

The hiring process has become increasingly automated over the past decade. Applicant tracking systems (ATS) now parse resumes and job applications, scanning for keywords and data points to determine the best candidates. While efficient, these automated systems lack a human element that is still critical for hiring: personal connection.

ATS Usage Continues to Rise

ATS software provides companies with an efficient way to post jobs, source candidates, screen applications, and manage the entire recruiting workflow. Adoption has steadily grown, with about 99% of large companies now using ATS tools. Their capabilities have also expanded to better screen candidates through AI and machine learning models.

Yet, while ATS systems excel at organizing, ranking, and searching application data, they lack the ability to gauge intangible personality traits and human relationships—key factors for determining organizational fit and success. Candidate screening and relationships still require a human recruiter perspective.


Personal Connection in Hiring

No algorithm can replace the value of a personal connection during the hiring process. Beyond the resume, the interview serves as a crucial opportunity for employers to assess not only a candidate’s skills but also their personality, communication style, and cultural alignment with the organization.


Hiring managers want insight beyond the skills and experiences listed on a resume. What is the applicant’s communication style? Do they actively listen and thoughtfully consider different viewpoints during interviews? Can they persuasively convey ideas to colleagues and leadership?


Consider this scenario: two candidates with similar qualifications and experience submit applications. ATS might find them equally suitable on paper. However, a face-to-face interview can reveal the passion, creativity, and interpersonal skills that set one candidate apart. 


Personal connections formed during interviews provide insights into a candidate’s potential contributions to team dynamics and overall organizational culture.


Blending Automated and Manual Review Processes

The question then emerges of how companies can balance efficient and unbiased ATS screening with personalized human interactions. Below are several effective strategies:


  • Use ATS for initial screening only: Flag, don’t exclude. Have recruiters manually review borderline candidate profiles that may have been unfairly downranked by automated systems.
  • Schedule quick phone screens: A 5-10 minute call creates space for candidates to ask questions and strengthen perceived job fit beyond the resume.
  • Conduct thorough in-person interviews: Recruiters should lead interviews and directly engage with applicants instead of solely relying on hiring manager feedback.
  • Foster casual interactions: Informal meet-and-greets where applicants converse with team members, build relationships, and reveal cultural alignment.
  • Seek referrals from current employees: Nothing replaces vouching for candidates from trusted sources internally.


Incorporating the human factor in hiring extends beyond the interview room. Employers can leverage networking events, informational interviews, and even social media to establish connections with potential candidates. 


These interactions provide a more holistic understanding of individuals, making it easier to identify those who align not only with the job requirements but also with the company’s values and vision.


Embracing the Human Factor

While ATS solutions scale recruiting efforts, the human factor remains key for evaluating role and culture fit. Balancing the efficiency of automation with the insight of human engagement leads to successful, mutually beneficial hires. Candidates want to be known, not just processed and ranked by an algorithm. This resonates throughout the talent lifecycle, influencing satisfaction well beyond signing an offer letter.


Curious about crafting an ATS-friendly resume that reflects your unique qualities? Explore our collection of resume samples on for inspiration.