Dumb Ways to Decide…? People Decisions

 In Business decisions, Decision-making, Insights, People decisions

Are you a good judge of people?

It’s an interesting question. We go about our life judging people all the time, and we rarely stop to think if our judgements are accurate or helpful.

Today, I’m thinking about interviewing and hiring. Most managers will have heard rumours that interviewing isn’t a good predictor of success. They may have tried different techniques to try and make it more objective. So let’s look at the evidence and some case studies.

40% of companies run unstructured interviews. These are nearly useless as a predictor of success, they pick up only about 19% of the potential value of the candidates.

As a comparison, the most robust, structured behavioural interview gets you up to 53% of the value of the candidates. So, the first action any hiring manager needs to take is to learn behavioural interviewing, focusing on real situations the candidate has encountered.

Even amongst companies who run behavioural interviews, it turns out the majority don’t assign any consistent way of assessing candidates during and after interviews, such as rating scales.

That means the interviewer’s first impressions of the candidates will go on to influence and colour their subsequent answers. At the end of the interview we end up with a holistic impression of the candidate that is highly driven by the first impressions and the subsequent halo effect. To avoid this, you have to take notes and use a comparative scale for each key skill area.

Many companies use reference checks as an extra step. These are provided by the candidate, which makes the reference check the quintessential example of the confirmation bias, where we look for data to confirm what we already think. Privacy issues notwithstanding, it is a reasonable idea to get a broader set of references to check, and to ask some tough questions of them.

Here are 2 innovative ways to tackle recruitment.

Zappos famously puts new employees on a 2 week training program and offers them $4000 to quit during that time. They want people who believe in the company, not just the dollars. I would extend this thinking to the probationary period, which in my 15 years of experience I can only remember 2 people not passing probation – again evidence that hiring managers don’t want to admit they could be wrong.

One way to fast track the decision on a potential employee  is the realistic job preview where you actually put the candidate through some tough situations and see if they can stick it. Research shows job previews increase job satisfaction, performance and length of tenure.

In summary, my top decision making tips to avoid biases in hiring…

  1. Behavioural interviewing
  2. Taking notes and ranking key skills on set scales
  3. Using the reference check as a robust and unbiased process
  4. Use induction training and the probation period to weed people out
  5. Realistic job previews can be applied no matter how big or small your firm

Posted by Rob Pyne