First impressions are powerful. But unfortunately, first impressions are also a common denominator of many bad hiring decisions. First impressions are powerful. They’re also, unfortunately, the common denominator in many poor hiring decisions.
The Hiring Mistake
Making hiring decisions based on first impressions is problematic. Research has shown our brains make snap judgments on a person’s character within a tenth of a second. Results from a survey of 2,000 hiring managers determined that 33% knew whether they’d hire the candidate within the first 90 seconds of the interview.
Another report indicates job applicants have approximately 6 minutes and 25 seconds to make a positive impression. That’s barely enough time for an interviewee to sit down, take a deep breath, and gather their nerves before launching into a confident conversation about their qualifications for the role.
These impulsive impressions can also be reinforced through the interview process. Based on what we know of the brain and the natural human inclination toward confirmation bias – the tendency to seek out information that supports existing beliefs – it is far too easy for hiring managers to evaluate a candidate and then use the interview process to affirm their initial perspectives.
Getting caught up in initial opinions or opting to “go with your gut” on a potential hire can be detrimental to your organization, employees and culture.
... And How to Avoid It
So, how do you avoid being swayed by your first impression to make more objective, balanced assessments? Here are 5 tips for making better hiring decisions:
- Study the candidate’s resume in advance to understand their key accomplishments and past successes. Weigh this information against the requirements for your job opening to evaluate their qualifications for the role.
- Screen candidates over the phone before meeting in person. This can eliminate any initial judgments caused by their dress or body language.
- Wait 30 minutes after an interview to allow your first impression of the candidate to fade before making a hiring decision. Consider whether you’re hiring someone who’s good at interviewing or who will succeed in the role.
- Collaborate on hiring decisions with others in your organization. This can balance out emotional reactions with rational ones. Panel interviews are valuable ways to gain multiple perspectives on a candidate.
- Adopt a structured interview style to even out the playing field. Including work sample or cognitive tests can help to predict job performance well.
Partner | Recruitment Director
James is a senior recruitment leader who supports brands across tech, retail, education, professional services, consumer packaged goods, etc., in their search for top-performing marketing talent. With his educational background in psychology, he is passionate about the intersection of people and business.
Smart, Savvy + Associates are experts in helping marketing and communications leaders find people and develop teams that thrive and deliver inspiring results. As a people performance company, we specialize in finding marketing and communications talent in the Pacific North West. We also offer training programs for leaders and teams as well as options to become a certified coach or get coached.