The Hiring Mistake You May Be Making

First impressions are powerful. But unfortunately, first impressions are also a common denominator of many bad hiring decisions. First impressions are powerful. They’re also, unfortunately, the common denominator in many poor hiring decisions.

The hiring mistake…

Making hiring decisions based on first impressions is problematic. Research has shown our brains make snap judgments on a person’s character within a tenth of a second. Results from a survey of 2,000 hiring managers determined that 33% knew whether they’d hire the candidate within the first 90 seconds of the interview.

Another report indicates job applicants have approximately 6 minutes and 25 seconds to make a positive impression. That’s barely enough time for an interviewee to sit down, take a deep breath, and gather their nerves before launching into a confident conversation about their qualifications for the role.

These impulsive impressions can also be reinforced through the interview process. Based on what we know of the brain and the natural human inclination toward confirmation bias – the tendency to seek out information that supports existing beliefs – it is far too easy for hiring managers to evaluate a candidate and then use the interview process to affirm their initial perspectives.

Getting caught up in initial opinions or opting to “go with your gut” on a potential hire can be detrimental to your organization, employees and culture.

… and how to avoid it

So, how do you avoid being swayed by your first impression to make more objective, balanced assessments? Here are 5 tips for making better hiring decisions:

  1. Study the candidate’s resume in advance to understand their key accomplishments and past successes. Weigh this information against the requirements for your job opening to evaluate their qualifications for the role.

    By thoroughly reviewing their resume, you can gain valuable insights into their professional background, skills, and experiences. This preparation not only allows you to ask more informed and relevant questions during the interview but also helps you assess how well their past achievements align with the needs of your organization. Additionally, it demonstrates to the candidate that you value their time and are genuinely interested in their potential contribution to your team.

  2. Screen candidates over the phone before meeting in person. This can eliminate any initial judgments caused by their dress or body language.

    Phone interviews provide a neutral platform to assess a candidate’s fit for the role and organization, ensuring that you make decisions based on their competence and potential rather than superficial impressions. It also helps you streamline the in-person interview process, saving both your time and the candidate’s. Additionally, it’s an opportunity to establish rapport and set expectations, creating a more effective and comfortable experience for all parties involved.

  3. Wait 30 minutes after an interview to allow your first impression of the candidate to fade before making a hiring decision. Consider whether you’re hiring someone who’s good at interviewing or who will succeed in the role.

    First impressions can sometimes be misleading, and candidates who perform well in interviews may not always be the best fit for the job. Taking this time to reflect can help you make more thoughtful and informed hiring choices, aligning your decision with the actual needs of the position and the organization. It’s a crucial step in ensuring that your selection process focuses on long-term success rather than short-term charm.

  4. Collaborate on hiring decisions with others in your organization. This can balance out emotional reactions with rational ones. Panel interviews are valuable ways to gain multiple perspectives on a candidate.

    Involving a diverse group of stakeholders, such as team members, department heads, or colleagues, brings varied insights and viewpoints to the hiring process. This collective assessment helps mitigate personal biases and ensures that the candidate aligns not only with your individual preferences but also with the broader needs and values of the organization. It fosters a more robust decision-making process that is based on a well-rounded evaluation of the candidate’s fit for the role and the company culture.

  5. Adopt a structured interview style to even out the playing field. Including work samples or cognitive tests can help to predict job performance well.

    Incorporating work samples or cognitive tests into the interview process can be especially beneficial. These assessments help predict job performance more accurately by allowing candidates to demonstrate their skills and abilities in a practical context. This approach not only enhances the objectivity of your evaluation but also provides candidates with an opportunity to showcase their capabilities, ensuring a fair and data-driven hiring decision. It’s a win-win for both employers and candidates, leading to better matches between individuals and roles.

First impressions are a natural outcome of the interview process. But they should not form the basis for hiring decisions. Making slight shifts to how potential candidates are evaluated will alleviate the impact of personal biases and beliefs and help your organization find stronger, more qualified employees.