According to Nobel Prize-winning psychologist and economist Daniel Kahneman, humans process decisions based on two systems:
- System 1 or Blinking. Refers to our intuitive system, which is typically fast, automatic, effortless, implicit, and emotional.
- System 2 or Staring. Refers to reasoning that is slower, conscious, effortful, explicit, and logical.
To address implicit bias in the workplace when selecting new employees, people need to move consciously toward System 2, which requires slowing down thinking and being more mindful. Unfortunately, many interviewers still use System 1 thinking, such as “gut instinct” and “chemistry,” that limit their ability to pick the best person, or worse, to unconsciously rule out candidates from different races and backgrounds.
To determine if a hiring manager is engaging in System 1 thinking, ask:
- Does the manager “wing it,” with no clear plan for the interview? The problem with this approach is that no time is spent determining what is important about the job and what characteristics a person needs to be successful in the job.
- Does the manager ask candidates different interview questions for the same position? If different questions are asked of candidates for the same position, it makes it difficult to compare “apples to apples.”
- Does the manager talk more than listen? Apply the 80/20 rule for effective interviewing: the candidate speaks for 80 percent of the time and the manager for 20 percent of the time. If this is flipped, that means the manager is more focused on selling the job rather than figuring out if the person is right for the job.
- Does the manager fall victim to snap judgments, such as firmness of the handshake and eye contact? “Rating errors” are errors in judgment that mislead or blind interviewers, such as first impression, similarity error, or halo effect, and can easily lead to hiring mistakes.
In fact, most of the time the “feel” we get for a person is wrong. Unstructured interviews score significantly lower in predicting job performance than structured interviews. In fact, research shows it would take three to four unstructured interviews by different interviewers to reach the validity of just one structured interview.
According to an analysis of employment discrimination cases based on interviews of external hires between 1998-2010, poor selection practices can also prove costly. Of those that went to trial, only 13 percent using structured interviews were ruled discriminatory compared to 50 percent of the unstructured ones. The average payout for companies that lost at trial or settled out of court was $1.5 million.