First impressions are powerful – will the first date pave way for a second? Will the business card exchange lead to a sale? Can the eager interviewee transform sweaty palms and dry mouth into career magic?
In fact, first impressions are so paramount that you’re probably weighing if this article is worth reading solely based on my first sentences. And unfortunately, along with getting second dates and sales leads, first impressions are also the common denominator of many bad hiring decisions.
According to Monster, many hiring managers make a yes or no decision within the first six minutes of an interview, and many say the first 90 seconds are imperative for making a good first impression. Even more shocking, one study in 2000 revealed that judgments made in the first 10 seconds of an interview are at times a strong predictor of the outcome of the interview.
From a hiring perspective, these quick emotional decisions are a disaster, and surely contribute to many hiring mistakes — mistakes most small businesses can’t afford to make.
We think we can tell a lot about a person quickly. But we can’t tell everything we need to know about a person just by how they smile or shake a hand. But we can’t; vital decisions, like hiring, retention, and the makeup of a team, should not be made within the blink of an eye.
Hiring requires contemplation, deliberation and most of all, deep pockets. Small businesses may not be able to afford a recruiting agency or they may not even have an HR department to begin with. Because of this, it’s extremely important to not hire on an impulse feeling.
Bad hiring decisions are costly not only financially, but costly to your team, and, let’s be honest, can be costly to your Glassdoor ratings. A high turnover rate looks good on no one.
So, how does one avoid falling into the pit of the first impression?
Here are five tips on how to make unbiased, objective and overall better hiring decisions.
1. Do Your Homework
Study the candidate’s resume ahead of time so you can walk into the interview with a strong understanding of their key accomplishments and past successes. Have a concrete knowledge of their past, and then weigh that against the requirements for your job opening. Just how qualified is this person for this particular job, and what will they bring to your small business?
2. Make the Call
Schedule a phone call ahead of time with your candidates as part of your screening process. This will eliminate any initial judgments of how they dress, what their body language says and how strong their handshake is.
3. Wait It Out
Be aware of when a candidate has impressed you early on, and be intentional to hold off on your hiring decision until the end of the interview. Wait at least 30 minutes to allow the first impression to fade before making any decisions. Then ask yourself whether you’re hiring someone who’s good at interviewing or someone who will be good at their job?
4. Get Other Opinions
Share the hiring responsibility with others in your organization. If your small business allows for it, consider a panel interview with multiple perspectives weighing in on the potential hire. Others can help balance out an emotional reaction and may not have been as won over by a candidate as you were.
5. Create Structure
Use a structured interview to even out the playing field. Include work samples and cognitive tests, as those have been shown to be a good predictor of job performance. After all, Google does in their hiring process, and they’re doing pretty all right!