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Hired the Wrong Person?

June 18, 2019

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Hired the wrong person? It has been known for many years that job interviews are not a particularly reliable way to predict future job performance  due to the power of first impressions and our many unconscious biases.

We all want to think of ourselves as good judges of character and it is uncomfortable and anxiety provoking to think that we can be wrong in our judgments about other people, both personally and professionally.

People form first impressions very quickly, little more than 200-milliseconds, however, these snap judgements of character are as inaccurate as they are irresistible. Add to that a good dose of confirmational bias, whereby after that first impression is made, people focus on the information that supports their initial judgement and ignore any contradictory information.

There are many other unconscious biases we all share that effect out judgments of others.  For example, tall people are judged to be more intelligent.  Attractive people are judged to more competent.  We are biased towards things on our dominant side; we associate our dominant side with good and our non-dominant side with bad, preferring products and people that happen to be on our ‘good’ side over those closer to the other half of our body.  People prefer objects, and job candidates, on their dominant side.

We often think that we are impervious to these biases and effects and they only apply to other humans and not to us, but this simply is not the case.  We are hard-wired to think this way and it is not an aberration, but just a part of normal garden-variety human behaviour.  However, it does affect the judgements we make of people, especially in the context of recruitment and staff selection.

Keeping in mind that the cost of a poor hiring decision is substantial, it is prudent to be aware of these biases and flaws in our judgements of people and to have an effective staff selection method that considers these factors.

The good news is that mis-hires can be avoided and our biases can be used to your advantage; recruitment doesn’t have to be a “hit and miss” affair.  It isn’t a difficult problem to fix and it might not be any more time consuming than your current method; but it does take an open-mind, some self-discipline, and some money, albeit a fraction of the cost of a mis-hire.

 If you would like to learn how to avoid a mis-hire and select good staff and keep them, please contact me at:

E: chris@fermion.com.au or P: + 61 401 752 602

“Learn from the mistakes of others.  You can’t live long enough to make them all yourself.”

Eleanor Roosevelt.