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By APTMetrics’ Jamie Madigan

The study of unconscious biases in judgment and decision making has boomed recently, and one of its most useful applications is understanding those biases that can lower the validity and usefulness of employment interviews. Wrinkles in our thinking can lead us to overvalue candidate information that is easy to recall from memory, inflate (or deflate) a candidate’s interview score based on how they contrast with the candidate that preceded them, or cause us to mistake likeability or attractiveness for talent and potential.

How do you combat these biases and heuristics if they are ingrained and programmed into us at a basic level? Decades of research has shown that conducting structured, behavioral interviews reduces these and other sources of rating error. Having a panel of interviewers asking the same questions of every candidate, sharing their extensive notes and evaluating candidates against the same evaluation criteria as a group goes a long way towards mitigating biases. It ensures that all panelists consider the same information, that they compartmentalize their evaluations and that they consider only what is relevant to the interview and the job.

Nothing can completely erase unconscious bias, but we can reduce it. Organizations that implement these simple methods for structured interviews will minimize the impact of biases, increase the validity of their interviews, hire better people and help themselves stay on the right side of legal and ethical issues around discrimination in hiring. Beyond that, structured interviewing can also be a great tool for building a culture that strives for the larger goals of clear thinking and making decisions based on data instead of hunches and gut feelings.

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