Two professional coaching and providing guidance to a person

Many of our clients have come to us for advice on how to improve their own internal hiring processes.  “Our Recruiters keep pushing forward unqualified candidates or candidates that are not a good fit with our culture,” says the Hiring Manager.  Often times, our clients lack a structured and disciplined recruiting process – one that is consistent and repeatable.  However, we have also seen great improvements with our clients’ hiring practices with just a little research-backed information and increased self-awareness.

The things is, as recruiters and interviewers, we are often unaware of our own biases.  As a Recruiter myself, I have to constantly be reminded what the purpose of the interview is.  As Lou Adler states in his article, What Is the Real Purpose of the Interview, one purpose is to accurately assess competency, fit, and motivation.  And in terms of upper-level management and leadership positions that we typically recruit for; I would also add the purpose of an interview is to allow you to answer the following question: Can this Individual be a True Business Partner?

We now have a better understanding of what the purpose of the interview is.  But we still do things subconsciously that limit our effectiveness in properly vetting candidates for the position.  Research conducted in 2009 and 2010 (by the Manufacturing Executive Institute) discovered SIX reasons why interviewers often recommend the wrong candidate:

  1. Loss Aversion… manifests as fear of “losing” the candidate.  Especially if we think that they are a great candidate.
  2. Incorrect Commitment… to an inappropriate view of the job and/or the candidate.  This is typically addressed with a thorough job description that outlines all required competencies, job responsibilities, and goals of the position.
  3. Value Attribution… imbuing the candidate with qualities based on “perceived value” rather than factual data.
  4. Diagnostic Bias… interviewer’s blindness to evidence that suggests the candidate is a poor choice.  Part of the issue here is that interviewers “like” the candidate and often overlook potential issues and/or red flags.
  5. Authenticity Dilemma… inability to distinguish a candidate’s real-self from their invented persona.
  6. Disposition Confusion… failure to identify the candidate’s natural disposition.

None of these six reasons are unique to the interviewing and recruiting process.  Social psychological research has shown that we, as humans, commit these errors on a daily basis.  Many of these reasons can be addressed through the use of  structured interviews.  However, addressing issues such as the Authenticity Dilemma really comes down to having experienced interviewers.  By asking yourself if you have committed any of these fallacies before making a yes/no decision on a candidate – you are ahead of the game.  I hope this information is helpful and removes some of the “instinct” that is inherit in the interview process.  Just through increased knowledge and increased self-awareness, significant improvements can be made in the hiring process.