Manager, Face It: You Are Biased! But you can fix it.

Picture this: Hiring managers complete an employment interview with a candidate. Immediately after the conclusion of the interview the managers are tested on the information they received during the encounter. Just to see how much they remember about the candidate. They are asked 20 questions. How much do they remember? How much would you remember? In a classical study 40 managers went through this experience precisely. On average, the managers responded incorrectly to 10 of the 20 questions they were asked. So, it appears that our ability to remember candidate information even immediately following an interview is poor. Very poor.


If managers do not remember the content of an interview, can they still make good hiring decisions? Studies consistently show that the predictive validity of the common job interview is very low. This comes as no surprise given the results of the managers’ study above. If you cannot remember what was said in the interview, how can you make good decisions? Remember, the quality of the decision can only be as good as the quality of the information that we have available.


In this article we will review some alternative methods to make hiring decisions. These methods and tools are designed to supplement the employment interview, and not to replace it. Objective assessments, situational judgment tests, personality inventories, and other more sophisticated tools are readily available. But should you really use them? For what jobs? At what cost? And do they really work?



Hubris: When I see a good person I know it.

I meet with a lot of managers. A lot. And one of the most common things I hear is “I am great at spotting good people. When I see talent, I know it”. Often, this is true. But often it is not. If you think of it statistically, when was the last time you heard a manager say: “I am really horrible at judging people”? Never, right? People just don’t think about themselves that way. Obviously, it is statistically improbable that every single manager you know is ACTUALLY great at evaluating the fit of a person for a particular job. What does this mean? It means that on average, managers have severe over-confidence about their ability to judge character. You can easily see this if you face the numbers. Rather than just remember how great of an interviewer a manager is, ask them the following questions (by the way, you should ask yourself the same questions…):


1. In my current team, how many are A players, B players, and C players?


2. How many people left my team in the past 12 months?


3. How many people on my team were terminated in the past 12 months?


4. Wow many people should have been terminated but were not, mostly because it is better having someone in the role than nobody…



These simple questions often serve as a good reality check for most managers. Suddenly, they see that even if they are the best in the world at judging character, sometimes things don’t work out. To reduce the frequency of these occurrences we must use all possible data sources to make a hiring decision.


One of the best things you can do to improve the quality of hiring decisions in your company is to use objective assessments, to supplement the subjective interview. Use knowledge tests, skills evaluations, personality assessments, and any other scientifically developed and tested tools that have been proven to predict job performance. There are a lot of tools on the market that are presented as hiring tools, where in reality they have never been developed and researched for this purpose. Therefore, you must complete your due diligence and ensure you are about to select good tools before you add them into your hiring process.


Three reasons to use objective assessments:

1. Utility and cost: Most objective assessments cost a fraction of what it would cost you to interview each applicant, and clearly would save you a lot of money by avoiding a poor hiring decision. Depending on the assessments you select, it can often be administered quickly and remotely. While you still pay for the assessment itself you save the cost of interview time, interview location, and travel cost when applicable. The cost of objective assessments keeps going down. Today, you can find good entry-level assessments available for $50 or less.


2. Incremental Validity: Validity is a tool’s ability to predict what it is designed to predict. In an employment situation, we are commonly trying to predict future job performance. Study after study we find that across jobs, cognitive ability is a very strong predictor of job performance, and it adds to a successful employment decision over and above an employment interview. Additionally, the personality dimension of conscientiousness keeps starring as the number one personality characteristic that predicts job success. Both these variables are measured through objective assessments.


3. Objectivity: We are all biased. Period. And while some objective assessments are biased too, all the ones that are professionally developed will be highly objective and will be relatively bias-free. This will increase the quality of our hiring decision. In fact, study after study we find that adding objective assessments to an interview process makes a significant contribution to our ability to predict future job performance. Of course, you must select tools that have been professionally created.


So, if you and your managers care about the quality of the team members that you bring on board you must add objective assessments to your process. Just so you can hear it from me: I am a trained Doctor of Organizational Psychology, I have personally screened tens of thousands of people, and interviewed more than 3,500. Still, I know that the use of objective assessments always helps me make a better decision. Every single time. This is precisely why I always use these assessments, and why you should too.

Happiness NOW!

I was working with a group of senior leaders at the largest bank in Israel last week. We talked about how to strategically share information with teams, clients, colleagues, and suppliers. Then, I taught them one of my absolute favorite tools in the world.


In fact, this is a tool I use at my own company, Spotlight Leadership, to start each and every team meeting. It is simple and effective. What I love, is that it quickly forces people to apply positive thinking to their reality. So many people are used to focusing on the things that are not working well, on all the stuff that goes wrong. And, research shows us that this kind of thinking fosters less creativity and poorer problem solving.


What is the tool? Gratitude! I recommend that you try it right now too.


Please answer the following question (answer in writing for the full effect…): What are two things that you are deeply grateful for right now? One thing in your personal life, and one thing at work.


Here are some critical pointers to make this effective:


1. Leave the cynicism aside. Clearly, it is easy to mock something like the expression of gratitude, but you would be missing out on all the real benefits of this tool.


2. Think of something VERY specific you are feeling grateful for right now. It must be very very specific. For example, many people say “I am grateful for my family”. While true, this does not give you the full benefit of experiencing gratitude. Alternatively, try something like “I am grateful for my son, who folded all his dirty clothes so neatly just to show me how much he is trying to keep our home neat and tidy”. Just to be clear, this has not happened at my home. Yet.


3. Even if it feels weird, keep doing it. The more you practice expressing gratitude, the more natural it becomes. Then, the benefits will just come flowing.


So, you can give this little tool some practice at home, with your loved ones, or at work, with your teams. And next time someone is finding a problem hard to solve, try to see if a little bit of gratitude is something that could help.

Driving with a blindfold?

Just last week I went on a really long drive. It was a road I’ve traveled hundreds of times before—I know every curve and bump by heart. It felt really good to drive on such a familiar path.


But what if I told you that I drove the entire trip blindfolded? (Don’t worry, I didn’t, I love my family and would never risk the other drivers on the road!)


But you would think that I had lost my marbles, right?


Yet, so many business owners and managers do exactly that. They stick to a very familiar and comfortable road, driving on auto-pilot. Sometimes, it seems like they really are wearing a blindfold.


Here is an example. Think about your hiring process. You place an ad, interview a bunch of candidates, and hire one (or several). Then, you pray that you made the right decision.


I agree, sometimes this approach will work. But, choosing a candidate using a coin-toss will also work 50% of the time. In fact, research shows that using the most common interview techniques results in a predictive value of 52%! A mere 2% better than a coin toss.


If you are tired of hiring a person, only to discover that he or she is nothing like what they presented during the interview, you need to change your hiring practices.


Here is the Spotlight Blueprint that you should implement immediately:


1.  Conduct a job analysis: Perform a systematic investigation of the job. This will reveal everything that the person needs to be able to do.
2.  Create a Star Profile: Compose a document that lists 7-13 of the most important competencies that a person needs in order to be a good fit for the job and for your organization.
3.  Use interviews, but also use objective data. I always recommend using personality assessments and ability tests to see who the person really is—not just who they want you to see during the interview.
4.  Compare apples to apples: During the interview, ask everyone the same exact questions, in the same exact order. In fact, create a complete interview guide that you and other interviewers can follow. This will ultimately allow you to make a decision that you liked (or didn’t like) a person because of their personality and not because of the questions you may or may not have asked.
5.  Rate your candidates: Using the Star Profile, rate your candidates to make sure they meet your needs. Then you can really make better hiring decisions.


True, these steps may seem a little cumbersome, but if you really think about the cost of each possible hiring mistake, adopting this process will become a no-brainer.


Some of you will implement these steps immediately. But, our experience shows that most will do absolutely nothing and will continue to drive with a blindfold. If you would like to see our one-of a kind hiring solution, Spotlight Hiring, our one-stop shop to hire great people the first time around just click here. We will get in touch to schedule a private demo.


In the meanwhile, you can download an audio program and e-book where I walk you through each step in more detail right here Hiring Insights Gift.


Or click here to schedule your private Spotlight Hiring demo.

What is the best gift idea in the world?

So many times before, I’ve found myself in a position to give someone a great gift. Something that will make them feel special, but also has a greater significance and meaning. Unfortunately, I am absolutely horrible at picking gifts! I try to think hard about what will make someone happy, but I usually come up with nothing. Nothing special at all.


But about six months ago, this situation changed completely with a single discovery. I came across a company that not only creates an amazing product, but is also changing the world!


LSTN (as in “listen”) Headphones make an absolutely eye-catching product. Seriously, this company makes the most beautiful headphones you have ever seen in your life. Their headphones are made of… wood! How cool is that, wooden headphones? But, they only make their products from reclaimed wood, which makes these items even more special. And, their headphones sound GREAT. In fact, I am enjoying some wonderful music with their headphones right now as I type. Full disclosure: I have absolutely no business stock in this company, and I buy all of their products at full retail price… I just love them!


But all of this is just icing on the cake. I recently spoke with Bridget Hilton, the founder and CEO of LSTN Headphones. She shared the true mission of her company with me: For each pair of headphones they sell, they give the gift of hearing to a deaf child. Through her research, Bridget found that 95% of kids in schools for the deaf (in some countries) may be able to hear again if given proper medical treatment and a hearing aid.


She decided to help, and so can you.


If you give these headphones (that look and sound amazing!) to someone in your life, you’ll also be giving the gift of hearing to a child in need. What could be a better gift for your employees? Your colleagues? Your family members, friends, clients, and above all, to the world?


So next time you want to buy a gift, just go to the LSTN website and help a child (or 50!) get their hearing back.


Remember, now is the time to take action that matters.

Are you as superficial as me?

Until recently, I was feeling stuck with my work for weeks. It didn’t matter what I tried, I just couldn’t create new programs or get excited about the things that I normally love doing. I know… a lot has been going on in my family, but I knew there was something else… I just couldn’t pinpoint it. What was bringing me to a complete standstill?

And then it hit me… and I felt so embarrassed. Am I really that superficial?

Over the past few weeks, because of a big move, I didn’t have a full office to use. In fact, I didn’t even have a full desk. When the suspicion started sneaking into my head that maybe this is what caused the situation, I thought to myself, “It can’t be…” But then, the office furniture arrived, I unpacked the boxes, put all the books back on the shelves, and painted an entire wall with whiteboard  paint (I like to think big, draw diagrams, and get a little messy).

And then it happened, the creative juices came right back.


Interestingly, I was even able to focus more clearly on the less creative parts of my work, too. It just felt good to be back in the flow. Even though this is a new location, a new space, and a new environment, it suddenly became familiar and comforting.


It’s so easy to forget that our physical environment plays a huge role in how we feel at work. So, what can you do to make your own workspace more inspiring, or change it in a way that will help you focus better?


Do you need to remove clutter? Do you need another chair placed away from your computer just for planning and thinking? Do you need to open the window? Add a scented candle? Move things around a little bit? Face the other direction? Even if you work in a cubicle, there is a lot you can do with your space. I found that for me, the number one item that helps me focus and get work done is the whiteboard. It’s funny that something so simple and common has such a big impact on my work, but it really does.


So what are your tricks for changing your own work environment to help you stay focused and boost productivity?