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June 29, 2023

Supporting candidate authenticity: The power of professional vulnerability

Is it possible to be professional and vulnerable at the same time?

The short answer is yes. However, it can be a fine line to walk.

For your provider candidates, starting to look for jobs can be exciting. It can also be a big commitment that often becomes a full-time job in and of itself.

But what about when overwhelming personal circumstances arise as a candidate tries to make professional plans - and a stellar first impression on employers, like yourself?

Understand why a candidate might share private details in a professional setting

As you work to recruit physicians and providers to your organization, it’s important to remember life doesn’t stop when the job search starts.

In your role, you need to be intuitive, empathetic and curious about your candidates’ current situations, which will require you to establish an environment of trust. But in some cases, prospects might bring these details to you from the start.

But, why?

Here are some reasons it might be appropriate for a potential hire to disclose personal circumstances during the early stages of interviewing or getting to know you:

  • A major life change, like an engagement or recent marriage, may impact where they look for jobs or their involvement in the search alongside other planning.
  • Starting a family could mean your candidate will be searching for a certain type of community or growth opportunity.
  • A personal challenge, like a loss or change in family structure, can be the cause of distraction or change in demeanor. It could also mean they’ll be looking for certain things in an opportunity that you can learn.

Remember: Everyone benefits from creating an environment of trust early on

Open communication is the best way to make an accurate assessment of who your candidate is and what circumstances might be shaping their job search. Plus, it’s your chance to step up as a resource and source of support for potential hires’ life’s ups and downs during a time as critical as the job search.

When candidates are willing to be vulnerable with you, their recruiter, you gain several things:

  • Knowledge about candidates’ changing wants and needs in a career opportunity.
  • Understanding of how to best communicate and reach this candidate.
  • Foresight to provide situation-specific resources that might make certain job search decisions easier.
  • Context to better empathize with a candidate’s sudden change in attitude, such as being less responsive and appearing more distracted or less enthusiastic.
  • Insight into a candidate’s professionalism, maturity and willingness to take a problem-solving approach.

Be open with candidates, and they’ll be open with you

Give candidates the transparency you want from them. You don’t have to dig into dirty details or overshare details of your own to show you’re being real. Just be human. You’ll set the pace, and they’ll be more likely to do the same with you.

  • When you engage with candidates during interviews, be the first to offer details about the role’s compensation plan and benefits.
  • Share a detail or brief anecdote about your personal life and certain situations that impacted where and how you searched for jobs.
  • Show relatability by revealing a personal fact that makes you more approachable, like not being a morning person or something light.
  • Build trust by opening up to candidates about a specific job search struggle or career challenge you have faced – and how you overcame it.

Find other ways to help candidates navigate life changes during the job search:

              Help candidates outline their priorities

Be the recruiter who encourages candidates to determine what’s most important to them in an opportunity before you dive into specifics about yours. This will show candidates you’re more concerned with helping them find the right fit than making a placement.

              Give candidates a realistic understanding of timelines

Managing the job search steps can be confusing, especially when personal priorities are competing. Make this easier on your prospects by sharing as much as you can about your projected timeline for the interview, hiring and onboarding processes.

              Offer support and resources

If candidates ask, or it becomes apparent to you they might benefit from guidance on a particular topic, offer resources. There are lots of helpful places you can point them to, including sites like, where candidates can receive insights to help them map out their job searches, advance their careers and consider important lifestyle aspects of being a physician or APP.

              Promote their wellness and self-care

Remind candidates to take time for themselves and engage in activities that bring joy and relaxation. This becomes even more important when difficult or demanding personal circumstances are layered on top of the job search and are fighting for their attention, too.

              Lead with concern, not criticism

If you notice inconsistencies or details that aren’t adding up, or if you get the sense a candidate is sharing personal details to excuse or justify their poor communication you’re probably right.  

But before you scrap the connection, ask the candidate directly if something has come up - professionally or personally - that may be impacting them or interest in your opportunity. This can offer you clarity, regardless of whether you decide to move forward.


As you move through your recruitment processes and guide physicians and APPs through life changes during their job search, keep an empathetic mind and be sensitive to your candidates’ wants and needs. Let your intuition do the rest and tell you which candidates will shine through their current circumstances and be the best fit for the job.


Read PracticeLink articles by Alexandra Cappetta

Alexandra Cappetta

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