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Overcoming the Recruitment Biases

Do you or anyone you know have a sixth sense when it comes to recruitment? Is that “sense” completely unbiased and effective? If you answered “yes”, then you are definitely lying to yourselves.

While it is, indeed, true that some people have much more success in recruitment then others,  this happens, most of the times, due to their abilities slowly developed over the course of time and multiple errors.

How do you make up your mind when confronted with a decision? Well, people tend to prefer one of the two following approaches:

One of these approaches is using the “gut feeling”, that has been proven to be successful for them over the years. The main problem with this approach is that it can never be reliable enough. No matter how many times it helped you make the right decision, it will still be just a game of dice next time you use it. And, on top of that, have you ever considered what exactly is this gut feeling and how does it work? Bruce Henderson, founder of the Boston Consulting Group, defined it as “the subconscious integration of all experiences, conditioning, and knowledge of a lifetime, including the cultural and emotional biases of that lifetime.” This doesn’t sound very professional when it comes to recruitment, does it?

The second approach that people use when facing a decision is what they imagine to be the rational analysis. This approach consists of trying to methodically examine all the available information and data in order to reach a conclusion. This may sound as unbiased as it can get, but is it?

In most cases, even while HR managers and CEOs adopt and implement programs that they believe to be free of bias, they still fall short of addressing unconscious biases. Dr. Banaji, a social psychologist at Harvard University, explains that “discrimination is veiled, not explicit, but rather more implicit, unconscious, because we ourselves are unaware of it”.

In his book, Everyday Bias, noted diversity consultant Howard J. Ross points to many studies indicating that these sorts of blindspots are ubiquitous in our lives.  “Virtually every important decision we make in life is influenced by these biases, and the more they remain in the unconscious, the less likely we are to make the best decisions we are able to make.”

Some of these biases include:

Confirmation bias: The tendency for people to seek out information that conforms to their preexisting views, and ignore information that goes against their views. For example, when an interviewer forms a distinct opinion about a candidate based on a minute piece of information such as the college they attended, before the actual interview, he or she is succumbing to confirmation bias. Great candidates may not make it to the interview or be perceived as less competent than others because of these assumptions. Organizations may decrease their chances of hiring great candidates due to interviewing confirmation bias.

Ingroup bias: The tendency to favor members of your own group (or those that you have more in common with). This bias can result in making poor hiring decisions by choosing a candidate entirely based on subjective criteria such as shared interests, hobbies, education, age, professional background or even similarities of appearance or name.

Selective perception: The process of cherry picking the information that we do like to perceive, while ignoring the ones that would contradict our beliefs. This goes hand in hand with the ingroup bias. When we find a candidate that matches our initial preferences, we tend to notice only his or hers positive features, while unconsciously filtering out all the data that would contravene our viewpoint.

Status quo bias: The fact that we would almost every time prefer the familiar things – the ones that we are already comfortable with. This bias prevents diverse hiring by making us prone to selecting the same type of employees that we have chosen in the past.

All of these could interfere with our reasoning, so what can we do in order to overcome all of these biases and use an objective judgment when recruiting candidates?

Anonymizing candidate selection is definitely helpful, but it’s far from enough. Consider using one of these methods to ensure that your organization’s hiring process is bias-free:

One way would be what Dan Hill, an internationally recognized expert on reading emotions based on facial micro expressions and the CEO of Sensory Logic, told us about at the Great People Inside Conference: The New World of Work in Romania (you can see the whole video by clicking here). “People don’t think their feelings; they feel them. So at Sensory Logic we bypass self-reported, cognitively filtered input by going straight to how people most naturally reflect and communicate their emotions: the face.”

For 16 years now, they’ve been both the pioneer and the most careful commercial  practitioner of applying facial coding as a research tool to help clients lower risks and optimize marketing, products and other business solutions. Facial coding enables them to scientifically yet non-invasively capture, quantify and analyze the emotions shown.

Another great way to make the best decisions would be to use exclusively the assessment systems in order to narrow down the number of possible candidates to only a few before you involve any human judgment. Afterwards, you can make the final decision by consulting with the HR managers that you trust the most.

Great People Inside provides easy-to-use tools and processes to attract, assess, match, select, onboard, manage, develop, benchmark and maintain workforces anywhere in the world.

Finding the right talent, the best fit for the job and your organisation, can be a very challenging task. It requires deep knowledge of your own organisation’s culture and keen understanding of the candidate’s personality, strengths, interests, work style and other characteristics. Our technology and solutions will do the work for you, helping you find employees who can flourish and reach the highest performance required to constantly bring your company forward.

Request a free demo:

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Sources:

Mlodinow, L., “Subliminal: How Your Unconscious Mind Rules Your Behavior”

www.wepow.com

www.forbes.com

www.sensorylogic.com/

 

Algorithm vs. Human Instinct

Everyone wants to have the best people in the right positions. But how exactly can you accomplish this?

This is where HR steps in. Most people underestimate its importance, but studies have shown the great hidden impact that great HR can have on any organisation.

Watson Wyatt surveyed 405 publicly traded companies of all types, posing 72 wide-ranging questions on everything from training to workplace culture to communications. In order to come up with a so-called Human Capital Index (HCI) score for each company, a statistical formula was applied (HCI measures how well an organisation makes use of the ability of an individual to perform. A higher human capital index indicates better management of human capital by the organisation. It is measured on a scale of 100). Then the subject companies were sorted into three HCI-rating categories: low, medium, and high. The companies in the high-HCI group delivered a 103 percent total return to shareholders over a five-year period, compared to 53 percent for low-HCI and 88% for medium-HCI companies.

While psychometric testing and performance prediction have evolved considerably over the past 100 years, their value is often under appreciated. In this article from thepsychologist.bps.org.uk,  two critical lessons from this broad field of research are highlighted. Namely, research on performance prediction has taught us the importance of choosing the right people and using the right tools to do so.

As it is mentioned in the article, selecting the right candidates is an important goal, but we must not forget about the one with equal importance – screening out undesirable candidates. The consequences of choosing the wrong people can be extremely detrimental for the company, as they lead to increased turnover rates, higher recruitment costs, and training expenses, along with lost productivity and decreases in morale among all employees. The high costs associated with replacing poorly performing individuals make it all the more important to identify and select the best performers in the first place.

This is where you have to ask yourselves: on what should I base my decision when selecting a new candidate? Human instinct or a pre-employment assessment system? The thing is – people are very good at identifying what exactly it’s needed for a certain position in their company and at extracting information from the candidates, but they are doing poor at interpreting the results. The analysis made by Harvard Business Review (HBR) on 17 studies of applicant evaluations shows that a simple equation outperforms human decisions by at least 25%. This is valid for any situation with a large number of candidates – no matter if the job is on the front line, middle management, or in the C-suite.

There are also several other benefits to the company that an employment evaluation system can bring. It provides leaders with valuable information not only about their candidates, but also about their existing employees. This helps you identify their development needs and their strongest abilities, which you can improve, based on the given feedback.

This doesn’t mean that you should completely remove the human judgment from the equation.

A great way to make the best decisions would be to use exclusively the assessment systems in order to narrow down the number of possible candidates to only a few before you involve any human judgment. Afterwards, you can make the final decision by consulting with the managers that you trust the most.

In order for the assessments to be successful, there are certain rules that must be respected:

  • Understanding the importance of the assessment process and it’s role in identifying the performance levels can lead to the success or failure of the process
  • Respecting the methodology suggested and agreed upon by the company leads to maintaining the objectivity, regardless of who is being assessed
  • Encouraging employees to get involved in a permanent self assessment process and ask for feedback. This leads to self-motivation and engagement.
  • Follow up the assessment. The assessed employee and the assessor will meet for a follow up session to analyse and discuss results, certain situations and evaluate the potential solutions for the identified problems, which leads to mid-term and long-term development.

 If you need more information about how the assessment system works, get in touch with a consultant now!

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