Mario Batali: The 3 Ingredients for Cooking Up A Great Candidate Experience

Personal Branding

As the Global Director of Talent Acquisition for Monster, I know cooking up an ‘al dente’ candidate experience isn’t always easy.

Like so many of my colleagues in this industry, our talent organization is evolving to do more work with less resources, a reality compounded by the fact that our biggest challenge isn’t applicant flow – it’s surfing the resume tsunami to find the proverbial ‘needle in the haystack’ as effectively, and efficiently, as possible.

I’m proud to work for an organization that not only talks about candidate experience, but is actively working to improve it.

3 ingredients for cooking up a great candidate experience

Here’s the dish on how Monster served Mario Batali’s hiring needs while turning up the heat on the candidate experience, and what recruiters and employers can learn from this highly visible, highly successful search.

1.  Know The Business:

Here at Monster, we align our recruiting department with functional areas underneath the larger, unified corporate talent function; by tying recruiters to the business, they can gain an intimate understanding of what the needs of the business are and how talent can best be leveraged to meet those business needs both now and in the future.

That’s why the first step we took when partnering with Mario Batali and his team was to understand what a successful candidate would look like, and identify the biggest challenges – and opportunities – that would resonate with top talent for this highly specialized role.

We took this information and conducted our own market research, discovering that the proposed “Production Assistant” title had a different connotation, and level of experience and responsibilities, than what the hiring team – or qualified candidates – would expect out of this role.

This led us to make the strategic recommendation to switch the title to “Media Production Coordinator” as well as building a compelling job description for posting that emphasized the key terms and phrases that qualified applicants were the most likely to search for and have in their resumes.

The first step to creating a positive candidate experience is, by necessity, generating candidates.  In this case, we were incredibly successful, generating over 50,000 applicants for a single position.  While this was a unique job, it’s not a unique challenge.

Most employers don’t have an applicant problem – they have a candidate problem.

That’s where communication comes in.


2.  Communication is Key:

We also worked with Mario to make sure the job description was written in a way that best supports our 6Sense semantic search technology so that the requirements were clear and reflected the same natural language found on candidate resumes.

Separating the truly viable candidates from an often overwhelming pool of applicants efficiently is a key determinant of candidate experience – the sooner resumes are reviewed, the sooner applicants can receive feedback as to their status – good or bad.

In Mario’s case, the tens of thousands of resumes received were reviewed by the recruiting specialists at the Mergis Group, a national staffing firm with an expertise in filling critical positions quickly and, consequently, a Monster customer.

Using Monster’s 6Sense semantic search technology to automatically return and rank the most qualified candidates, the Mergis Group was able to sort through the huge volume of applicants in real time to quickly develop a slate of the 50 candidates whose resumes best matched the job description.

Candidates who weren’t selected were immediately notified of the decision; while it’s always hard to deliver unpleasant news, job seekers would rather know “no” than not know at all.  Most ATS and HRIS systems have templates and tools to make this simple step simpler.

Because while technology might have created the “black hole,” it’s also the solution to solving some of the most pressing, and pervasive, problems related to candidate experience.  It’s not that it’s not right – it’s just that it’s not right now.

3.  Word of Mouth Matters Most:

Candidate experience, of course, is about more than effective job postings and generating relevant resumes.  As Mario and his team learned, so too is Monster – and the full plethora of services that we can provide to connect the dots in the talent acquisition and management process.

We were able to work with Mario to create a targeted, robust recruitment campaign, applying media capabilities to develop everything from landing pages and microsites to targeting passive seekers with skills in social media, Italian culture and cuisine and production through Monster’s Career Ad Network product.

The good news?  You don’t have to be a Mario Batali to use these products – or to realize their impact on your hiring initiatives.

For Mario, our multi-platform, multi-media approach resulted in a slate of 50 top candidates, all of whom had the necessary experience and skills to succeed in the role.  The 50 finalists were contacted and screened, producing five final candidates who had the opportunity to interview with Mario.

The result was the ultimate goal of every recruiter: a happy hiring manager and a great hire whose career – and life – were profoundly changed for the better.

“When I met [new hire] Drea [Bernardi], I realized she was such a good fit that it’s almost as if the job description was written just for her,” Mario remarked. “I’m impressed that found me the perfect match for this job, no small feat considering the massive amount of resumes they needed to sift through for this position.”

But while Bernardi might have been the successful candidate, the other 49 finalists (not to mention the over 50,000 applicants) are all hireable at some point – or know someone who is.  Providing a great candidate experience means creating the type of selection process with enough transparency and authenticity to provide a positive experience worth sharing with their networks.

Because in the new war for talent, everyone’s a recruiter; even the applicants who didn’t make the cut.  And in this case, tens of thousands of potential new hires (and new customers) were exposed to Mario Batali’s employer brand and walked away satisfied and with a good taste in their mouths.

Of course, you’d expect nothing less from one of the world’s greatest chefs .  And when it comes to candidate experience, like cuisine, success is defined by exceeding expectations – which is why Chef Batali and thousands of the world’s leading employers depend on Monster as the perfect pairing for talent acquisition success.


Scott Santoro serves as the Senior Director of Talent Acquisition for, where he is responsible for the strategy, policy and processes of Monster’s in-house talent acquisition function, a role which includes oversight of Monster’s employer brand, processes and recruitment programs. Prior to joining Monster, Scott spent four years leading the Talent Acquisition function at Biogen Idec, a global leader in the biotechnology industry, as well as 14 years in a variety of talent acquisition and HR roles at Keane Incorporated, a global consulting firm focused on Information Technologies. Scott holds a B.A. in Business Administration from the College of St. Rose in Albany, NY.