Managing the Moment – Controlling Interviewer Bias
More hiring mistakes are made in the first 30 minutes of the face-to-face interview than at any other time. This is what I refer to as “Moment 1” mistakes. Most of them are caused by overvaluing first impressions.
Most interviewers unconsciously react to the candidate’s first impression, good and bad. If bad, they become uptight, convinced the person is not qualified. This unconscious bias causes them to ask tougher questions, going out of their way to prove the candidate is not qualified. They minimize the positives and maximize the negatives. Sometime during the interview this bias dissipates, but for those candidates that start out in the doghouse it’s often too late, with the person never being seriously considered or evaluated.
In comparison, prospects who are prepared, confident, friendly, outgoing, communicative, and professional in appearance tend to be instantly considered viable candidates for the open position, even if they lack basic skills. Under the influence of a positive first impression, interviewers relax, become more open-minded, and tend to ask easier questions, maximizing the positives and minimizing the negatives. Their unconscious objective is to prove the candidate is qualified. For those given the initial free ride, their deficiencies are frequently uncovered if the company has a multi-step and rigorous selection process, but not always. If you’ve ever hired someone who makes a great presentation during the interview, but doesn’t deliver the results needed, you’ve experienced the negative impact of this first impression bias first-hand. Even if you haven’t been caught red-handed holding the bag here, think about all of the great people you didn’t hire only because they were human, getting a little nervous at the beginning of the interview or because they didn’t fit someone’s stereotype of the perfect candidate.
Adler, Lou. The Essential Guide for Hiring & Getting Hired: (Performance-based Hiring Series) (pp.46- 47). Workbench Media. Kindle Edition.
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