Cognitive biases

Bias. No matter how smart we are, we all experience “cognitive errors.” In other words, we fail to think clearly. 

One of the steps on your path to a successful candidate assessment is to realize what distorts your perception. Even though you cannot get rid of biases (they are running silently in your subconsciousness), you can learn to spot when they occur and then correct their impact.

1. We like people similar to us and we tend to think they are smarter and better professionals.

Keep in mind that in order to build a successful organization, you need to hire people different than you: leaders and followers, extroverts and introverts, creative and analytical minds, lone wolves and social butterflies, men and women, older and younger.

The diversity in teams correlates positively with creativity and innovation and thus produces better business results. It also makes your talent pool bigger and helps you attract various groups of candidates.

2. Confirmation bias

If at one point during the interview you decide that the candidate is strong, you are likely to be less critical about what comes next.

And the opposite is true – if at one point you decide that the candidate is not the right fit, there is a high probability you will ignore the positive signs that come afterward.

3. 1st impression bias

If your first impression about a candidate is positive, most probably you will subconsciously help him or her to pass the interview well. You will be more enthusiastic, ask easier questions, be more engaged in the conversation. That, in the majority of cases, will make the candidate perform better than he or she would otherwise.

If your first impression is negative though, you will likely be negatively biased and subconsciously make the interview harder for the candidate. You will be less engaged, ask harder questions, and potentially show signs of disinterest. That can make the candidate perform worse than expected.

4. We project our emotions/ mindset/thoughts on others

When we feel happy, we tend to be more positive about candidates. When we are tired or hungry, it has a negative impact on our perception. Also, interview conditions, such as environment, temperature, and lighting will impact how we perceive them and how they perceive you. Be aware of this bias and do your best to assess the candidate independently from it.

5. We reinforce and change memories after the fact

Take notes during the meeting and put your feedback together as soon as possible afterwards.

Otherwise, you risk your mind creating new narrations about a person. If you liked her, you will skip question marks. If you did not, you will underline the weak sides.

6. Groupthink bias

Groupthink happens when people prefer to agree with the opinion of the group rather than reveal their own contradictory thoughts. Therefore you risk missing some important observations about a candidate.

It is always recommended to have several interviewers speaking to a candidate. It shall allow the organization to have a more complete and unbiased view of the person. Make sure that all the interviewers feel confident in sharing their opinions and feel that their feedback is valued. You can ask them to write their feedback first and then share it with others.