Despite the focus given during the recruitment process to assessments, psychometric testing and various interview techniques, some newly hired employees turn out to be disastrous for the organisation. Even the most experienced of recruiters and interviewers still make mistakes and hire the wrong people.
The reason for this is the psychological phenomenon of inattentional blindness first identified in the 1990s by researchers Arien Mack and Irvin Rock. Also known as perceptual blindness, inattentional blindness occurs when an individual fails to recognise an unexpected stimulus which is right before his eyes. The inability to spot critical stimuli is caused by perceptual limitations. Interestingly this is the same phenomenon which allows magicians to manipulate attention to prevent an audience seeing how a trick is performed.
To put it simply, people have a tendency to see what they are looking for, especially when their minds are primed to look for specific things. In recruitment, this means that the recruiter can be blinded by his own expectations. When you set yourself up to see specific things, you can miss the elephant in the room, even as it walks right past you.
This deficit is further complicated by leadership styles which narrow perceptual ability and exacerbate perceptual blindness. Your personality, experiences and expertise shape your leadership style which in turn shapes your hiring style.
There are 4 main Hiring Styles
- The Tackler : fast and decisive and want to be in control and reach goals quickly.
- The Teller: tend to talk a lot and use communication skills to motivate people. They focus on selling the organisation and the role.
- The Tailor: collaborators who build rapport and conduct interviews as exchanges of thoughts and ideas.
- The Tester: data driven and thrive on clarity and facts. They make decisions based upon facts and evidence.
The key to correcting perceptual blindness is to understand hiring style and the perception bias which it creates. This bias leads to the recruiter seeing the candidate the way he wants him to be, rather than the way he is, and leads to the overlooking of key issues and distorted views.
There are three ways to correct this hiring blindness:
- Determine your hiring style: identify your dominant style
- Recognise your blind spots: blind spots obscure the view. Tacklers see drive, Tellers see shared visions and goals, Tailors see collaborators and Testers see details. All four styles miss things which others see. These are the critical blind spots that lead to bad hires.
- Incorporate seeing eye colleagues: a team of recruiters or interviewers with diverse and complementary styles can provide a 360 degree view of the candidate and a better assessment.
As the competition for talent increases, organisations have to develop fast stream lined recruitment processes which are precise and accurate in selecting the best candidates.