From the time we’re kids, we have the importance of first impressions hammered into our brains. And it’s definitely true that first impressions are extremely important, especially in the business world. However, when you’re looking for great talent, especially when your business is still in its early stages, it’s important that you go deeper than surface level when evaluating potential employees. Otherwise, you could be severely hampering your hiring process.
Here are a few steps you can take to reduce the “first impressions bias” in your hiring process:
- Reserve judgment. Rather than looking at bits and pieces of a resume or cover letter, wait until you’ve seen the entire package a person has to offer before determining whether or not you should bring them in for an interview.
- Try not to make comparisons. It’s natural to compare job candidates to each other when making your hiring decisions, but this isn’t an effective way to staff your company. Instead, evaluate every candidate as an individual to determine whether or not they are a good fit for the position. This will help you to be more objective in your decision making process.
- Document your process. It’s easy to start overlooking flaws in potential employees because of the biases formed in early impressions. Have everyone in the hiring process write down all of their reasons for or against the candidates that have applied for the position. That way you can go back and analyze these documents with a better chance of having objective information.
- Get to know the candidate. One of the best and easiest ways to look beyond a first impression is to give the candidate a chance to open up about him or herself. Bringing a candidate in for an interview certainly can’t hurt; it gives you some face-to-face time to ask some probing questions and look beyond the information presented in a resume, application or cover letter.
- Eliminate unqualified candidates. If you spend some time looking at what characteristics do not make for a good candidate, you’ll be able to make decisions about your hiring based less on emotional first impressions and more on actual qualifications.
First impressions can give valuable, instinctual information, but they aren’t always reliable when we’re talking about the hiring process. Do some more investigation yourself and avoid letting good employees slip through the cracks.