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Snap Out Of It! Don’t Be Swayed By First Impressions

Your new candidate has spent hours preparing for the job interview. They’ve anticipated questions, chosen their outfit, and practiced the firm handshake. But it may all be for naught if something they do in those first few moments rubs you the wrong way.

We all know first impressions are important, otherwise we wouldn’t worry so much about how we look in the eyes of an interviewer (or anyone we hope to impress). But first impression bias may be even stronger than you think.

Research from the Association for Psychological Science tells us that when we meet someone for the first time, we decide in the blink of an eye whether we want to hire, date, hate, or make friends with them. And these first impressions color the way we interact from that point forward.

Monster.com advises that whether a candidate went to your alma mater or used an ugly typeface on their resume, you should try to stifle snap judgments. They can influence your decisions in the interview process and leave you with a bad hire. But even if you have good intentions, snap judgments happen in the unconscious part of your mind, without you even knowing.

If we don’t know it’s happening, how do we stop it? How do we turn unconscious behaviors into conscious ones?

Here are a few tips:

  • Be vigilant. Develop your hiring process and stick to it—no exceptions! When you’ve worked to understand your culture, your vision, and the needs of the position, the rest is just a matter of discipline and follow through. Be patient and trust that the process you laid out will lead you to the best possible hire.
  • Get a phone preview. You might do this already, but did you know it can save you from some snap judgments, too? A phone screen is a great way to learn about a candidate before they come in, and it also gives you an opportunity to form an impression that isn’t swayed by physical appearance.
  • Take your time. If you feel like you’re making a snap judgment, even a positive one, take more time and investigate further. Review any notes or ratings you’ve given the candidate, and get input from your team and colleagues. Doing this will either confirm your snap judgment, or help you see that you’re jumping to conclusions.

We all make snap judgments, but when you’re responsible for bringing new people into an organization, there’s a lot at stake. Make sure your decisions are intentional, not based on gut instinct. See how predictive talent selection can help.

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