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Overcoming Bias in Your Interviews, Part I

Do you feel like you spend too much time interviewing candidates without getting the critical information that you need about their future job performance?

Starting this month and continuing through our next two eZines, we’ll give you tips and strategies for making your interviews more focused, efficient and effective.

We keep our eZines to less than 4 minutes of reading time – if you can get even one tip to improve your interviewing effectiveness, we hope the 4 minutes will have been worth it! Remember, turnover costs your company 50 – 150% of an employees’ annual wages when the hire doesn’t work out.

And, the truth is, our clients are right: the latest statistic on the value of the typical unstructured interview is that there is only a .14 correlation between interview predictions and actual job success.

Need to Eliminate Disappointing New Hires in 2007?

Many of our clients are telling us that the Right Fit™ Hiring system has taken their hiring process light years beyond where it was.

“It’s revolutionized our hiring process.”

“I can’t believe all the information I get on a prospective candidate without spending any time getting it!”

“I’m saving so much time and we’re 3 for 3 on our last critical hires!”

But The Typical Interview Is Ineffective

Our clients are also telling us that they still struggle with the interview process itself.

And, the truth is, our clients are right: the latest statistics on the value of the typical unstructured interview is that there is only a .14 correlation between interview predictions and actual job success.

How Can You Improve the Accuracy of Your Interviews?

Sixty-three percent (63%) of all hiring decisions are reached in less than five minutes of interview time. The next 25 minutes of the interview does not change or improve the hiring decision.

We make a gut instinct decision about a person and then spend the rest of our interview backing up first impressions by focusing on selective supporting data. Gut instincts are great, but the best managers VALIDATE their first impressions by avoiding their own biases and using probing interview questions. (More on interview questions in our next issue!) Watch for the following biases that tend to influence your PERCEPTION of the candidate’s ability to do a job but, in fact, have NO CORRELATION to job fit!


A candidate that answers all your interview questions easily, articulately, with humor and with extraverted energy isn’t necessarily smarter, more hardworking or more capable than other candidates. Conversely, someone who speaks hesitantly or more quietly isn’t necessarily hiding information. One of the most costly decisions hiring managers make is measuring interviewing ability rather than job competency.


No matter how trustworthy your source, they may not know the requirements of your culture or the position for which you are hiring. For example, someone who was an A+ player in a more stable and structured environment might fail miserably in your high growth, entrepreneurial environment. Each workplace has its own personality, and each culture demands different things of its employees.


Attractiveness influences our perception of a candidate’s future job performance. This one is genetically encoded, so there’s not a lot you can do other than be aware of it.


To avoid this bias, ask trusted colleagues with different personality strengths to co-interview the candidate with you.


When we are having a difficult time finding the candidate we need (“it’s a competitive labor market”), we have a tendency to lower our expectations. “Well, this is the best candidate of the 15 I’ve seen.”  You would be better served to consider innovative ways of sourcing candidates than to settle on an “o.k” hire that produces “o.k.” results.

Remember, the interview that results in no unfavorable information is a poor interview. There is no such thing as a perfect candidate, so remember if something seems “too good to be true”…it probably is!

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