It’s been said that “Variety is the spice of life”. In business, this is true on a number of fronts, from investment to technology—but never does it ring truer than in the people we choose to surround ourselves with via our recruitment process.
Unfortunately, in the process of hiring, many business owners are inadvertently surrounding themselves with the wrong people which are halting business growth.
I’m speaking of course of the Halo effect—an effect so subtle, we may not even realize it’s taken hold—until we’ve made an expensive hiring mistake, that is.
In its simplest form, the Halo Effect occurs when we assume that because someone excels at (A), they will also be good at (B), and (C). During the selection process, our subconscious is making assumptions about a candidate that can be unduly influenced by the interactions we have. Take for example a hiring manager, who discovers they enjoy the same hobby as a candidate during interview pre-amble. Because, the hiring manager holds positive pre-conceived notions about that particular hobby, it influences how that candidate is assessed during all other aspects of the selection process, sometimes providing false positives where there are none. That hiring manager is being blinded by the glow of the halo, so to speak.
The halo effect can extend from any number of factors which hold a personal pre-conception for a hiring manager. The danger with the halo effect is not only that you may end up with the wrong candidate in the position, but you may end up hiring too many like-minded individuals, which can perpetuate the status quo and deprive your organization of the critical variety of personalities and thinking styles which are critical for business growth.
Luckily there are several easy-to-implement tools you can utilize to neutralize the halo effect, and we’ve rounded out the top five:
- Conduct a Preliminary Phase
Especially for small and medium-sized businesses who are time-crunched and resource deficient, traditional recruitment tends to follow some variation of the following: Place Ad, Review Applications, Conduct Interviews, Check References, Hire. The problem with this system is that often the first and only time you have personal contact with the candidate is during the interview process. To develop a whole candidate approach, consider developing a preliminary phase, whether that be a pre-screen phone interview, a specific set of tasks an applicant must complete to make it to the next round. The benefit of a preliminary phase is that it forces you to review different aspects of their abilities before a face-to-face meeting, which allows you to focus on the candidate’s overall abilities.
- Turn Your Thinking Upside Down
This one requires a bit of a shift in thinking, but if you meet a candidate who gives you an overall great impression, approach the interview with the mindset that you want them to prove that the impression matches the ability. Conversely, if the first impression is just lukewarm, adopt the mindset that you are committed to providing the benefit of the doubt. As you ask the same questions to each candidate you will find that your results tend to come out much more objective than getting carried away by emotion no matter what the first-impression.
- Adopt an Objective Scoring System
I cannot stress enough how much of a difference this will make to your organization. Asking the same main questions to each candidate and having an objective scoring system (like a five-point scale) rather than simply recording of their answers with a yes/no approach forces you to isolate the intent of the question, and focus on content rather than form.
At the end of the interview you will clearly see patterns that distinguish possible strengths from possible challenges, which brings us to the next point:
- Use Science to Your Advantage
The use of a personality assessment, job fit questionnaire or other metrical assessment will support the results of your interview impressions, and provide you the critical data about personality quirks that will either mesh with or create problems within your team. The more you practice this, the more you will discover that the scientific data will almost always uphold the interview impressions, with the added dynamic of assessing fit—which is a huge predictor of job success.
Prevailing science says it takes approximately 30 seconds to form an impression, but that impression could change with a little time. With the rush of back to back interviews and short timelines to decide, we tend to rush our perceptions about candidates which otherwise might have become clearer with a little hindsight. Try to schedule some dedicated time after interviews to do at least 30 minutes of another activity before reviewing the candidates, which will provide enough space for a more objective recruitment result.
The Bottom Line
While these aren’t huge changes to implement, refining your recruitment process to eliminate bias, and the dreaded Halo Effect (whether conscious or not) will result in the selection of some more well-rounded candidates who can offer the essential variety of human capital your organization needs. In addition, you’ll likely find it will boost overall success and retention rates because after all, hiring is a two-way street. The time spent getting to know your candidates in the right way will also allow potential employees to get a realistic feel for your business, which leads to both parties forming an informed relationship right out of the gate.
How about you? What strategies do you use that remove bias from your recrtuiment process?