How to stifle snap judgments during the hiring process

How to stifle snap judgments during the hiring process

When it comes to hiring, everyone says they’re out to find the absolute best candidates, no matter what. Ideally, hiring managers put the company above themselves and do what’s best for the organization, even if something about the candidate was judged too quickly.

Whether a candidate went to your alma mater or used an ugly typeface on the resume, you should try to stifle snap judgments about the candidate. They can influence your decisions in the interview process and leave you with a bad hire. We all make snap judgments; the key is in getting past them to make the hiring process as objective as possible.

Make a plan and stick to it

Develop your hiring process and then follow it step-by-step with no exceptions, says Heather Neisen, talent coordinator for TechnologyAdvice, a tech marketing and consulting company in Nashville. Her company has more than doubled its staff in the past 16 months. She says the only missteps have come when they deviated from their process.

Once you understand your culture, your vision and the needs of the open position, it’s just a matter of discipline and “believing in the process you developed,” she says. “Sometimes we feel like a kid waiting on Christmas with a certain candidate, but staying patient through each process has saved us from a bad hire almost as often as it’s confirmed we found a great fit.”

Adjust your interview style

A thorough phone screening helps you to get to know the candidate a bit before seeing them in person and may help you to avert the opportunity to make snap judgments based on appearance once they arrive for an interview, says Lisa Benson, staffing director of Mary Kraft Staffing and HR Solutions.

Once you’re done saying hello and having a bit of small talk, move into the interview questions. “Standardize the questions you will ask every candidate, so that you don’t go easy or just chit chat with those you have immediate rapport with,” says Spencer Greenberg, founder of, a website that provides free tools to help you improve your predictions and decision making, while avoiding bias.

Greenberg suggests selecting questions that will test an important quality or experience level that is important for the position and then rating each response immediately so your memory doesn’t skew the ratings later. “At the end of the interview, rate the candidate overall based on your total impression, and combine this score with the average score they received on each individual question,” he says.

Take as long as you need

If you feel like you are in danger of making a snap judgment, positively or negatively, take more time and investigate further. If you’ve used some type of rating system, review that and any other comments you’ve added about this candidate, says Bill Peppler, managing partner at Kavaliro Staffing, an IT/tech based staffing company. Have the candidate come back a few times in different interview settings, Peppler says, and solicit feedback from your partner and colleagues. Others may confirm your snap judgment or assure you that your concern is not warranted.

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