One Good Rule to Improve Your Hiring

by Michael Haberman on February 3, 2014 · 0 comments


Thinking bookI don’t know about you but some of the worse interviewing I ever did was done in the afternoon, especially after lunch. I did not keep track but my gut feeling is that most of the bad candidates I presented to hiring managers were ones from those late afternoon interviews. Based on some recent reading I now know why. Let me explain to you on how you can improve your hiring based on your interviewing time.

Two systems in your brain

In his book Thinking, Fast and Slow, Daneil Kahneman explains we do our thinking with two systems. Now he spends 500 pages explaining the difference between these two systems so I cannot give you a full run down now on these, you will have to wait for my book review. But in short System 1 is the part of the brain that makes decision fast and based on emotion and System 2 is the part that makes decisions based upon facts, such as numbers.

Upon reading that I immediately thought of interviewing situations. Most of us in HR or recruiting try to make our decisions based up on the “facts” about the candidates. In fact the whole concept of behavioral based interviewing relies on keeping the “facts” foremost in our minds during the process. In fact the training teaches you to “disconfirm” things and to seek “facts” that go against your “gut feel” about the candidate. Pure System 2 operations, at the end of which, we hand them over to the hiring manager who goes on his or her “gut feel” method of interviewing. They are operating under System 1.

System 2 gets tired

One of the problems relying on System 2 is that it gets tired easy and gets lazy and when System 1 takes over it will believe almost anything. As Kahneman says:

“…When System 2 is otherwise engaged, we will believe almost anything. System 1 is gullible and biased to believe, System 2 is in charge of doubting and unbelieving, but System 2 is sometimes busy, and often lazy. Indeed, there is evidence that people are more likely to be influenced by empty persuasive messages, such as commercials, when they are tired and depleted.”

The lesson here is that if your System 2 is tired you are not going to make good judgments. You will make decisions based on your emotions and you will believe the good things about people rather than truly questioning their abilities. For those of you that have taken the PHR courses this explains many of the interviewing biases that are taught in Module 3.

Ways to use this information

There are ways you can use this information to improve your hiring success. These include:

  • Don’t interview when you are tired.
  • Don’t pre-exhaust your System 2 brain by making a lot of decisions prior to the interview.
  • Schedule interviews with hiring managers to your best advantage. If you would like to see your candidate hired make sure they are interviewed when the manager will be tired. Presell them on the candidate’s good qualities and how they would fit. Remember however, this can backfire on you as well.
  • If you like a candidate “sell” to them when they are more likely to be using their System 1 thought process.

Understanding the thought process, which many of us already had a “feel” for, will help you make best use of the information you have to accomplish the most you can. Certainly remember DON’T interview when you are tired if you want to make the best reasoned decision.

Photo credit: Mike Haberman, His copy of the book

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