Three Interview Blind Spots You Need to Know About
Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the fairest of them all?
When it comes to interviewing candidates, being fair should be the top requirement on every hiring manager’s list. Each candidate should be solely assessed on their credentials and experiences. However, this is not necessarily what happens behind the scenes…
… because, obviously, we’re human. And being human means we have blind spots; areas of being and acting and feeling and interviewing that we cannot see.
In interviews, blind spots usually occur in the form of biases. Once you can recognize and acknowledge them, you’ll be better equipped to ask the right questions, make informed decisions, hire the best candidate for the role.
And maybe even become the fairest interviewer of them all?
While “opposites attract” may be true, it’s rare for distinctly different candidates to get a fair chance – even in the workplace.
Similarity-attraction bias causes us to be drawn to people who are like us: extroverts enchant extroverts, marketers connect with marketers, GoT fans pull in other GoT fans. It makes relating to one another far easier and can help us establish common ground.
That said, with all of its good intentions, this bias can put quite the hook in the hiring process. When we are drawn to people who are like us, we start hiring on grounds of “I like this person” vs. “This person would be good at the job.” It could result in a team of clones with similar skill sets.
The trick to overcoming this blind spot is to catch yourself in thought. If you like the candidate, stop to consider why you feel this way. Is it based on the requirements of the position, or based on your feelings about their similarities to you?
Human brains are wired to figure things out easily. We look for patterns and clues, drawing quick conclusions from minimal evidence.
Confirmation bias happens when we have a quick initial thought and then look for signs to validate it without consciously acknowledging or weighing it. Unfortunately, making an assumption within the first few minutes of an interview can lead to some serious hiring mistakes.
“Those who made a good first impression were instantly assumed to be competent and the interviewer used the balance of the interview to seek out evidence to support the initial reaction. If the candidate made a weak first impression, the interviewer would assume the person was incompetent and proactively went out to prove it. Questions that could quickly prove them wrong were unconsciously avoided.”
– LOU ADLER, “The One Hiring Mistake Everyone Makes and How to Avoid It”
There are a few different ways to avoid getting caught up in initial opinions and making hiring mistakes. Consider how you might adopt a few to avoid using first impressions as the basis for your hiring decisions.
Now this one’s an easier one. Everyone knows they exist, so everyone knows how to spot them and not fall prey to them, right?
If only it was so simple. The study of unconscious bias reveals that we all use stereotypes, all the time, without knowing it. However, these unchecked thoughts can lead to behaviours that can negatively affect your hiring process and your overall team health.
Instead of fitting people into preconceived “boxes”, take a step back and ask yourself: Are we truly giving everyone a fair chance at being hired?
Becoming a better interviewer requires a little more introspection and a little less autopilot. But doing the work will reap major benefits for both our professional and personal lives.