Hiring Managers: Beware of Confirmation Bias

You know the dictionary definition: Confirmation bias occurs when decision makers look for and assign more weight to evidence that confirms their preconceptions, while discounting evidence that goes against those assumptions.

Confirmation bias is a normal, usually benign mental shortcut that helps us deal with information overload in regard to trivial decisions—if Joe prefers the aisle seat, then he’ll find logical reasons to only sit on the aisle. Likewise, if Sam prefers blondes, he will automatically smile at blondes he passes in the hall.

But confirmation bias that cuts toward disfavor has a much more malignant effect. And as a hiring manager, if Carla thinks job candidates with CPP certification are always better than those without, then Carla will be more inclined to dismiss the next candidate lacking a CPP who walks into her office, no matter his or her qualifications. Not only does this circumscribe a company’s talent pool, it indicates a lack of confidence in the candidates’ pre-screening.

Confirmation bias in hiring is uniquely on display in this Wall St. Journal article on updating résumés, especially in the comments. Commenter Jack Brown observes, “As for the Internet presence that’s being touted currently as a must-have, closing the deal still relies upon the first five seconds when one walks into an interview.” A hiring decision based on a five-second impression must be largely informed by confirmation biases. So a sharp hiring manager will recognize these biases at work and deliberately set them aside to give the candidate an opportunity to present the benefits he can bring to the company.

At Pinnacle Placements, we operate on strictly objective parameters that enable you to have total confidence in the quality of referred candidates. We have a tested, comprehensive strategy to cut through the superficialities and present you with the candidates who, through comparable experience, have proven they can deliver a superior performance for your company. Questions? Contact us today.

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