How to correct interviewing myopia

The Alternative Board

TAB Members consider that recruitment is one of their biggest challenges.

So let’s look at one of the major safety nets to help stop you plummeting to depths of the Valley of Recruiting Failure, Interview Bias.

Owners of small and medium size enterprises have, at one time or another, done their own interviewing - it’s common for the boss to be involved at some point.

Bosses are the best and worst interviewers. The best, because few people in the company share their passion, vision, ‘war stories’ and how new people really will make a difference in their growing expanding organisations.

The worst, because they are biased. Let’s simplify. There is a point where the employer and the candidate meet.

This is the point which Lou Adler refers to as moment one.

More hiring mistakes are made in the first 30 minutes of the face-to-face interview than at any other time, and most of them are made by overvaluing ‘first impressions’.

If the first impression is bad, the interviewer might become uptight, perhaps immediately convincing themselves that the candidate is not qualified.

They ask tougher questions to prove their unconscious hypothesis. In short, they begin to minimise the positives and maximise the negatives.

In comparison, a confident, friendly and outgoing communicator who is professional in appearance will tend to be considered a viable candidate even if they lack the basic skills.

The interviewer tends to relax, be more open minded and ask easier questions, maximising positives and minimising negatives.

Unconsciously proving that the candidate is qualified.

Tip number 1 - Delay your decision for at least the first 30 minutes. This will allow your unconscious bias for seductive first impressions to dissipate and enable you to make a more measured, less biased decision.

Tip number 2 - Note your initial reaction to the candidate as, say, a plus (+) or minus (-) indicator - no more. Then force yourself to do the exact opposite of what you'd normally do. For the minuses ask easier questions going out of your way to prove they are qualified. For the +’s, the ones you like, ask tougher questions and go out of your way to prove they are unqualified for the job.

Tip Number 3 - Assume, when you meet the candidate for the first time, that you're meeting an expert for the job at hand. When speaking to a consultant you naturally assume competence, knowledge expertise; and you listen attentively. In addition a consultant need never be a close worker with you so first impressions and friendliness are less important in your decision.

Tip number 4 - Use the phone first. Make an assessment of qualification by phone first so that when you do meet you already know something about this person so first impressions are far less impactful and you will feel more obligated to conduct an objective interview face-to-face.

Tip number 5 - Don't let them get nervous. Expect that they will (most people are) be nervous and see this as a positive. Delaying your decision gives you time to establish rapport and for their nervousness to wear off. Applying some of these techniques will help you better understand what your candidates have actually accomplished without the filter of first impression bias in your way.