(Editor’s Note: Today’s article is brought to you by our friends at Criteria Corp, a leading provider of pre-employment testing services. If you want to learn more about how pre-employment testing can benefit your recruiting strategy, check out Criteria Corp’s “Definitive Guide to Pre-Employment Testing”. I found this to be a comprehensive guide that I keep on the corner of my desk all the time. Enjoy the article!)
One of the most common recruiting metrics is time-to-fill. It’s basically the number of days it takes to fill a position from the time the opening occurs (i.e. the requisition is opened) to the time the candidate accepts the job offer. According to the last Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) Talent Acquisition Benchmarking Report, the average time-to-fill is 36 days. On the surface, you might say, “That’s not too bad.”
However, in the article “12 Recruiting Statistics that Will Change the Way You Hire”, the average length of the job interview process is 24 days (23.8 to be exact). If we use both of these numbers, this means the rest of the entire recruiting process is 12 days. Twelve days to plan, source, select, background check, etc. Maybe it’s me but that doesn’t seem like a very long time.
Especially when it comes to selection.
If the company spends two-thirds of their time interviewing candidates, it seems like they should dedicate a comparable amount of time to making the right decision. Not necessarily equal, but comparable given how long it takes to interview. Because getting the selection part of the hiring process wrong can be costly.
Turnover is expensive
I don’t have to tell anyone the negative impact that turnover has on the organization. Depending on the report you’re looking at, the cost of a bad hire can range from 1-3 times annual salary, depending on the position. And that doesn’t even take into account employee morale and engagement, knowledge management, etc.
My concern is, if organizations try to accelerate the selection process, they could be opening themselves up to adding bias, which is defined as adding a prejudice in favor or against someone or something that’s considered to be unfair. It’s possible we do this unconsciously. Or maybe we’re deliberate about it.
I’m reminded of a seminar from Dr. David Rock I heard a couple of years ago where he talked about not all biases are bad. And of course, if all of the biases we brought into a situation were positive, then there would be nothing to worry about and we wouldn’t be having this conversation. But often bias is negative. If we want to use our biases the right way then we need to take the time needed to be aware of them. Here are ten common forms of bias and examples of how we might see each in a recruiting situation:
- Contrast effect occurs when an interviewer compares candidates to each other rather than evaluating to the organization’s performance standard. As in, “Jose is a better candidate than Leonard.” It’s important during the selection process for the recruiting team to use valid and reliable information to make their hiring decision.
- First-impression errors take place when an interviewer bases their entire view of a candidate on their first impression. I’ve often seen this based on the candidate’s attire. “Cecil came to the interview in jeans, he’s obviously not serious about this job.” Or tattoos. “Did you see that tattoo Cecil had on his arm? He’s not the right fit for our organization.”
- The Halo effect occurs when a recruiter or hiring manager allows one positive qualification or trait to take precedence over everything. This causes the interviewer to unduly favor the candidate. “For example, “Joe has a lot of enthusiasm, so naturally, he would be the most qualified for the job.”
- The Horn effect is the exact opposite of the Halo effect. In this situation, one negative trait or qualification takes precedence and leads to unfair prejudice towards the candidate. For example, “Joe seemed nervous during the interview. I’m not going to be able to handle the pressure of working here.”
- Inconsistent questioning happens when an interviewer doesn’t use a standard list of questions for each interview and cannot compare candidates to the same performance measure. Behavioral interviews are one way to bring consistency to the process. It’s important to note that even though candidates are being asked the same questions, it’s not to compare them to each other. See #1.
- Negative emphasis takes place when an interviewer makes assumptions about a candidate based on a small amount of negative information that is shared. An example would be if a candidate shares that they “failed” at something or made a “mistake”. Then all of a sudden, they’re no longer qualified.
- Nonverbal bias occurs when an interviewer is influenced by body language. You know this one. The room is cold, an employee folds their arms and now the interviewer thinks that they’re no longer interested. Sometimes it also happens when candidates are nervous and fail to make good eye contact during the interview.
- The Similar-to-Me Error occurs when the interviewer rates the candidate based on characteristics that the evaluator sees in themselves. The logic being – if I think I’m good at my job, then someone who is like me will also be good at their job. That makes someone the perfect candidate. The challenge with this thought process is that organizations need diversity to innovate and grow.
- Stereotyping happens when an interviewer assumes that a candidate has specific traits because they are a member of a group. True story: I recently attended a conference where someone stood up and said that he didn’t understand “why women were so emotional”. There was an audible gasp in the room. Enough said.
- So far, we’ve been talking about interviewer biases. This last one is for those job seekers out there. Cultural Noise occurs when candidates answer questions based on what they think will get them the job rather than what they actually believe or would do. This is exactly why every piece of advice to job seekers is “Don’t fake it!”
Heighten your awareness of recruiting biases
I get it, recruiting is tough right now. But the last thing that organizations want to do is spend a lot of resources finding and interviewing candidates only to select the wrong person. Part of selecting the right candidate is taking our biases out of the process. The way we do that is by maintaining our awareness that biases exist.
Organizations can make sure that human resources and hiring managers stay aware of bias by using this type of information during interview skills training. You can bookmark articles like this one and others on unconscious bias as reminders. Finally, we can make sure to take the proper time (and ask all the right questions) during the selection process. That benefits everyone.
If you want to learn more about removing bias from the candidate selection process, join me and the Criteria Corp team on Tuesday, August 27, 2019 at 10a Pacific / 1p Eastern for a webinar on “How to Move Your Hiring from Culture Fit to Culture Add”. We’re going to specifically talk about the similar-to-me error and how it can negatively impact your selection process.28