New research from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University points to a troubling hiring trend. According to the results of an extensive two-year study involving over 120 hiring professionals at elite firms:
- Interviewers were biased toward candidates who reminded them of themselves.
- By the time a candidate made it to the interview stage, his evaluation was not necessarily based on finding the person who was absolutely best at the “soft” or “hard” dimensions of the job.
- The most common mechanism by which a candidate was evaluated was his similarity to his interviewer.
Interviewers often seek out evidence supporting their initial reactions to candidates, filtering out conflicting information. As a result, perceptions turn into reality – and sometimes, talented people don’t get the jobs they deserve.
We’re all human. When we meet people for the first time, we often decide whether we like them within the first few minutes of meeting them. Sometimes, these gut reactions are accurate – but often they’re not.
That’s why, in the hiring process, it’s critical to train your interviewers to guard against making judgments about candidates based on limited information. To minimize the insidious impact of human nature, require interviewers to delay hiring judgments about applicants and to always support their opinions with evidence. These tips from A.R. Mazzotta will help you reduce perception-driven biases in your hiring process:
- Teach interviewers about this bias. Managers may not even be aware that they’re making snap decisions. Teach them about the hiring implications premature judgments can have – and train them to wait until all the evidence is in before making a decision.
- Define the job in terms of success factors. Instead of judging candidates based solely on experience, education or personality, develop an achievement-oriented job description that’s based on what success in the position looks like. Take the primary tasks involved in performing the job, and develop questions that will help you determine if candidates can accomplish those tasks.
- Require fact-based assessments. Do your interviewers assess candidates using terms like “I feel,” “I think,” ” It seems,” etc.? If so, take the judgments that follow with a grain of salt. Require interviewers to provide concrete evidence to back up their assessments; if they can’t, dismiss those perceptions.
- Make hiring a team decision. For all essential positions, require at least two staff members to interview candidates. Once interviews are complete, gather for a debriefing. Evaluate each candidate as a group – to minimize the potential perception-driven bias of any single interviewer.
Candidates’ interview styles vary greatly. Some are naturally at ease and know how to “ace” an interview; others are more nervous and may need several minutes to settle into the process and feel comfortable. For this reason, you must give interviewers the resources and training they need to avoid making a hiring decision within the first few minutes of interview. By reserving judgment, making assessments based on facts (not opinions) and evaluating candidates as a team, you’ll hire better, every time.
When you don’t have the time or internal expertise to tackle hiring on your own, A.R. Mazzotta is here to help. As a leading Connecticut staffing service, we have a team of highly trained and experienced recruiting professionals who will find the best candidates for your available position.