Recruiting with Heart <3

“Great vision without great people is irrelevant.” — Jim Collins, Good to Great


The world is crazy right now. Everything has changed. Your workload hasn’t. though. You’re doing your best to keep up spiritually, mentally and physically. But you’re still working nights, weekends…all the darn time. Yeah, you’re amazing at what you do (heck yeah you are) but you can’t do it all yourself. You shouldn’t. You’re bursting at the seams and possibly bursting into tears. You need help in your agency and you need it…like…now.

So, what do you do?
Hire someone. I need another “me.”
But how?
I don’t know. Put an ad out? Hire a friend? Reach out to the “I know a guy” guy? Okay and then what?
I gotta see that resume first. Interview them. Pick the best one.

This is usually how it goes right? Or maybe you go through a recruiting firm. Either way the process is the same ol’ way offices have been doing it for years. See a need, look at resumes, interview, hire and then cross your fingers it works out. But might I suggest that there is something missing? The heart in it all and the strategy in that heart. I’ll explain and we’ll need to back up and take a look at you first.


There’s a reason you’ve been so successful in your insurance business. It is because of who you are and how you operate that you’ve gotten this far. What are those key traits you possess that got you where you’re at now? Can you name them? What about the things about you that are your big blind spots? Can you name those? You need to unearth exactly what those are. Those are your core values. When you consider your blind spots, just think of the opposite of those to find more core values. This is what you’ll be using to evaluate what kind of person you need to hire. If you can identify these, you’ll be able to bring someone on board who truly loves what they do because they’ll possess the same core values as your company.


I can bet 90% of all the job ads to fill positions in the insurance industry right now are boring AF. Yeah, I said it because they are. I just googled, “receptionist” on Indeed (city undisclosed) and here is what I got:

We are looking for a bilingual (Spanish) candidate to handle incoming calls, greet customers, set appointments and follow up with prospects, handle Social Media for the store and answer emails. We will provide training!

Basic computer skills are required. Positive attitude helps a lot! Most important we want someone who loves communicating with people. We are also offering an opportunity to earn bonus and commission on top of the hourly pay.

Woohoo that was fun to read! LOL. So where are those values? Where’s the grab for the reader? Who are they really looking for? When writing your job ad, share what the ideal candidate looks like by giving a vivid, fun depiction of what a “day in the life” looks like. Or give a colorful 1-2-3 list of what that person does and loves to do in their job.

Check out what we did for one of our roles:
“You are the face, voice and heart of this company.
Without you we wouldn’t be ‘Be the Change HR.’
You are responsible for handling our client’s HR projects and processes as a reliable and knowledgeable HR consultant and true HR generalist.
You care about your craft.
You bring calm to the sometimes HR storm that can happen.
You also know how to have a good time while doing it because, let’s be honest, you really love HR.”

And guess what…core values are woven into this language, too. Oh, and when giving instructions on how to apply, ask them to reply to a fun question because why the heck not. My favorite is “What’s your favorite food?” I mean who doesn’t like food?! Put some love into that job ad and I promise it’ll make them want to work with you.


So, I do something a little crazy (but, then again, I am a little crazy). I don’t look at the resumes until the end. I’m being serious. Have your Applicant Tracking System filter out the ones who meet the requirements automatically. Only allow it to see those who have what you need as a baseline (i.e. experience in x, x Certification, etc.). My first impression besides what they wrote in the application email will be when I speak to them for the first time. No preconceived notions of who they are based on the dry resume writing. I’ll meet the actual person first, not the paper.


Now take those core values and make them into questions to ask your interviewees. If your core value is sustainability, ask a candidate how taking care of the planet shows up in their life. If your core value is integrity, ask a candidate about a time they did the right thing when nobody was watching.


  • Calming: Tell me about the craziest HR issue and how you handled it?
  • Intuitive: How does emotional intelligence show up for you in life?
  • Reliable: Were they on time? (This was not a question — I actually note if a candidate is on time.)

Ask personal questions

I know what you’re thinking, “She’s in HR she should know we can’t do that!” But yes, you can.
Some of my favs:

● What are you watching on Netflix?
● What’s your favorite book?
● Who’s your childhood hero?
Why ask these? My next tip explains a bit further.
These candidates are real people. Get to know who you’re talking to. Show them you value them with your time and attention. Real simple. After your phone interview, after your first in-person (or even skip this step), break bread. Invite them to coffee. For my hops or vine lovers — grab a pint of Hazy IPA (my fav) or glass of wine. And if you can’t do that in-person — do the same thing over Zoom. Have them BYOB and sip together.
By now, you might be saying, “Yeah, LeiLani, this sounds great but how do we measure the viability of a candidate against the others?” I was getting there. 😉 Create a spreadsheet and measure every step of the process. I’ve got my own little scale I’ve been using since 2008:
      1 = No way! I would never hire him/her!
2 = I wouldn’t hire him/her but you can talk me into it.
      3 = I would hire him/her but you can talk me out of it.
      4 = Heck yes! I would definitely hire him/her!
And then there are assessments. Do the same there. Assign a rating scale to each assessment (most recruiting platforms now have them). Give bonus points for skills/requirements that are “preferred” in your job ad. Add ‘em all up and you’ll see who is the front runner.
I’m hopeful by now, being the consummate professional that you are, that you know what you can and cannot ask but just in case, here are a few DON’Ts:
● Are you married?
● Where do you live?
● What did you make at your last job?
● Are you a felon?
● Where’s your name from?
● How old are you? (I’m actually chuckling. I’m going to smack you if you ask this.) Oh, and make sure this stuff isn’t on your applications either (if you actually use paper ones).
Let me close with a few thoughts…
  • If you love the process, candidates will love it too.
  • If you care about what you put out there for them to see, prospective employees will present themselves with care too.
  • If you devote the time to them, candidates will devote the time to you.
  • If you truly love what you do, you’ll find someone great.

Love the process.
Love your (new) employees.
Love yourself.

LEILANI QUIRAY is the founder and CEO of be the change HR, a conscious company helping small to medium sized businesses across the U.S. She has a fiery passion for both human resources and philanthropy. With 20 years as an HR practitioner in multiple industries at an executive level and philanthropic work, she desired to build a business that was different from your everyday human resources consulting firm. be the change HR, Inc. provides fractional HR executive support, strategy and services from pre-hire to post-term and everything else that happens in between.