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Don’t let these interviewer tendencies make you hire the wrong person

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By: Bill Wednieski

How does this sound? You’re a hiring manager, and you regularly keep the best candidates interested in your company, bring the best candidates on as your newest team members, and bring efficiency to your hiring process. Amazing, right? 

 

To live that reality, discernment is key. You’ll need to see and understand not only the tendencies we have that can get us into tricky hiring situations, but also the tips to take to overcome them. Improve your hiring skills right away with the tips we outline after each tendency, and watch the changes that follow. 

 

Keep reading for the top six interviewer tendencies that can cause a candidate to run in the other direction, and tips to stay far away from situations like those. 

 

Let’s presume that you (the interviewer) are well prepared, understand the job description, and are not making up candidate questions as you go. 

 

Tendency #1: Stereotyping

 

No, we don’t mean stereotyping in an offensive manner. We’re talking about allowing a candidate’s first impression to dictate your overall rating. It is an unarguable fact that a well-dressed, articulate and smiling candidate has an advantage. The interview has not even started yet and the hiring manager may already be picturing the candidate sitting at his or her desk crushing it. 

 

Tip: Resist the urge to make up your mind too early.

 

Tendency #2: Just like me!

 

It is documented that interviewers have an inherent tendency to rank candidates higher that are like them. Whether the candidate’s background is similar or their values, interests, attitude or style are similar to the interviewers’ can lead to a miss. Fact: Bill works with a client that graduated from a prominent university with an exceptional football program, and wouldn’t be surprised to find him “dipping” below his stringent criteria just to hire a fellow alum.

 

Tip: Intentionality can go a long way. Consider an unconscious bias training program to keep you honest, or recruit some diverse team members to join you in holding interviews for a shared perspective. 

 

 

Tendency #3: Central tendency

 

New interviewers are more susceptible to this one by rating too many candidates as average. This one mostly comes from a lack of confidence or deep understanding of what the interview is really looking for. Then, the interviewer does not want to go too high or too low on a rating. This is a tough habit to break too, and the worst part is you are likely to miss a great candidate not differentiating. 

 

Tip: Don’t be afraid to be discerning when interviewing candidates. Without this critical step, you’re likely to miss out on great candidates because you’re stuck on good ones. Sharpen your pencil, and get it done. 

 

Tendency #4: Too strict

 

Some interviewers have the habit of getting stuck on the fact that a candidate doesn’t have a specific qualification or experience. This may lead you to write off someone who is well-suited for the position before you have the chance to learn more about them. This rigidity can cause you to miss the right candidate – we’re not talking medical licenses here – who might not have something you’re looking for, but who might more than make up for that perceived shortcoming in other ways.

 

Tip: Practice patience. Don’t cut off an interview or fail to give one when the candidate doesn’t have 100% of your needs on their CV. Have questions prepared to go deeper and you might find yourself surprised, and in the presence of your perfect candidate. 

 

 

Tendency #5: Halo effect 

 

This situation occurs when one of the candidate’s traits stands out to drown out other very important traits necessary for a great hire. If the person has a great attitude you may miss technical skills or vice versa when a candidate is so solid technically the interviewer fails to determine this person does not work well with others. A candidate needs to check more than one box to make a good hire!

 

Tip: Be discerning, and measure both skills and culture with equal weight. 

 

Tendency #6: Horn effect

 

Unlike the halo effect this occurs when one trait or missing item bothers the interviewer so badly they miss the fact that the candidate checks a bunch of other boxes. This is really bad on difficult and narrowly defined roles with a small candidate pool. An example could be a candidate requirement to have a specific ERP system skill, and losing sight of the fact that the candidate in front of them has an affinity for systems.

 

Tip: Consider revisiting job requirements and finding a way to measure both skills and other points, like culture, education, and more, with equal weight.  

 

In closing 

 

It can be easy to slide into the habits or tendencies that come most naturally to us, but a successful hiring manager will always have a level of discernment when they conduct interviews. You should be able to see when you’re following the tips we outline above that will help you make the next right hire, or when you’re in the trap one of these tendencies can create. 

 

You’ve got the roadmap. Now follow it, and watch your team become the best it can be as you grow. 

 

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