Gut instincts are there to help us, but they need to be challenged. Otherwise, it’s likely that we will either make a bad hire or overlook a great one. Keep these tips in mind throughout the interview and hiring process to ensure that you are evaluating potential candidates on their true potential. Doing so will lead to fewer mis-hires, and save you time and money in the long run.
We have been genetically programmed to quickly make assumptions about our surroundings. It is in our evolutionary code. We need to know who we can trust, and who is a threat. And while this may have helped us stay alive and evade predators over centuries, today it can do more harm than good. Bias is natural, but we need to be aware of it so that it doesn’t play a role in the hiring process.
After all, it is illegal to make hiring decisions based on things like gender, age, race, or sexuality. But even when it comes to reading a resume, we may be making unconscious assumptions about who a person is and the type of employee they would be like.
Things like weight can play a big role in hiring decisions as well. Candidates who are obese – particularly women – are more likely to face discrimination. They are hired less often and at a lower payrate.
And the problem is that we might not even know that we are being biased! Emotional bias is sometimes really difficult to identify. There are times that we have gut instincts about individuals, and we don’t know why. They may remind us of someone in our lives, which will either give us an immediate positive or negative impression.
Both sides of this can be dangerous and lead to mis-hires. We might have a great feeling about someone who is unqualified and would be a poor hire. Or, we might discount someone for no good reason, who would otherwise be an excellent addition to the team and company.
One group that is often overlooked are those with less experience or fewer credentials. In reality, this can be a great opportunity, as it means that they are less set in their ways and can more quickly adapt to your company’s processes. More often than not, it is better to hire for potential and then train for specific skillsets.
Think about the requirements for the different positions in your company. How many of the people currently in these positions had every single box checked when they started? Probably not too many. A lot of things can be learned on the job, especially by the right person who is properly motivated.
Another group that often receives bias – whether consciously or unconsciously – are those who would be considered “job jumpers.” Remember, it’s no longer as common for employees to spend their entire tenure within a single company. Plus, those who hop around more frequently are likely to be very adaptable and quick learners. This means that they can bring new energy and ideas to your company.
Your gut instinct is there to help you. And you should continue to listen to it. But just make sure that you are also challenging your gut. Ask yourself why you might have formed an initial impression about someone. Is it based on something real, or is it purely bias? By really considering this, you can stop yourself from making a premature hire or make sure you give a chance to someone who truly deserves it.