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Interview Errors that Cloud Your Judgment of the Talent Pool

January 7, 2014
161350828Interviews are one of the most common hiring practices for companies and can be a good way to learn more about a candidate’s skills. It also helps you get a better idea of how well the candidate fits with the job and the culture of the company. However, the effectiveness of interviews can vary greatly depending on how structured the interview is as well as how the interviewer provides his/her ratings. In particular, there are many errors and biases that interviewers can commit when making ratings which can limit the effectiveness of the interview. We are susceptible to errors anytime we evaluate someone. But, knowledge of the errors and biases can help prevent their occurrence. Below is a list of five common errors.
  1. Halo Error: Halo error is the tendency to let a global impression of the participant to influence all judgments or observations about him or her. Essentially, your overall impression of a person (“She’s friendly!”) influences your evaluations of that individual’s specific traits (“She’s also intelligent!”).

  2. Assumed Relationship between Characteristics: This bias is the tendency to assume that, because a candidate has one characteristic, he/she must also have another characteristic. Just because the candidate is an effective communicator does not mean he/she is good at influencing.

  3. Contrast Effect: Contrast effect is the tendency to let the quality of previous candidates observed influence the judgments made about the present candidate. The tendency to compare candidates is especially a problem when the previous candidate was very poor or very good.

  4. Overemphasis of Unfavorable Information: This bias is the tendency to weigh too heavily on any unfavorable information you have observed when arriving at your final judgment. When making your final judgments, it’s important to keep in mind how relevant this information is to the skills needed for the job and also to make sure that this information is not affecting your impressions on the candidate’s other skills.

  5. Leniency/Severity Effect: This is the tendency to be a very “hard” or “easy” rater. Meaning, it’s the tendency to provide higher or lower ratings than warranted to all individuals.

Now that we have a list of these common errors, here are a few tips to help prevent them from occurring:
  • Do not rely completely on your memory—always refer to your notes.

  • Consider only information you observed and don’t make any assumptions.

  • Consider only information relevant to each competency.

  • Consider if any rating errors are occurring. Ask yourself: Are my ratings consistent with halo, leniency, severity, or any other type of bias?

Through Select Interviewing, you can learn more about these errors and best ways of avoiding these errors through practice. Select Interviewing also provides more information about how to best structure the interview so you can get the most relevant and useful information to make your final decisions and hire top talent.

Interviewer Tips

Alissa Parr, Ph.D. Alissa Parr, Ph.D. is a Senior Consultant at PSI. Her areas of expertise include the development, implementation, and evaluation of assessment processes. Alissa has experience managing entry-level through executive level assessment and selection efforts across a number of different industries including government, financial, military, education, healthcare, and manufacturing.