Recruiting and Logical Fallacies

I am not a betting woman, but your hiring process is probably full of logical fallacies.

You might look at a resume for 6 seconds, see that someone has worked at Google and Facebook, and believe that the candidate has a good work ethic and a decent set of skills. You might be right; however, you don’t know. You’re just playing the odds and taking the employer brand for granted.

You might also have two candidates who are finalists and believe they are the only possible options, when in reality there are more people out there who are better qualified for the role.

And you might think your interview process is locked down with competency models and behavior-based interviewing, but we both know that your general manager deviates from the interview model. The entire interview process is compromised with a false impression of the candidate.

How do you avoid being human and falling into the trap of making decisions based on logical fallacies and cognitive biases?

Well, an ATS or CRM can help you make better evidenced-based decisions. Better analytics will help you understand how your choices impact your hiring goals. And while Tim Sackett wants you to say yes to everything at work, I think it’s okay to be a skeptic and question everything — including your own choices and behaviors.

Whenever you have the honor and privilege to hire someone, you should work extra hard to overcome illogical thinking. The best talent acquisition professionals I know are critical thinkers. They don’t settle for simple solutions and easy answers. When a position is too easy, recruiters should be nervous. (Life is never that easy.) If a position is vacant for more than 100 days even though you have been recruiting in earnest, it is time to start examining the entire premise of your hiring process. (Good talent is not that hard to find.)

And I have another message for recruiters: if you don’t overcome logical fallacies in the recruiting process, the robots will.

Good luck!

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Laurie Ruettimann
Laurie Ruettimann is a former HR leader and an influential speaker, writer and marketing advisor. Her work has appeared in many mainstream print publications and major news media outlets. You can find her on twitter at @Lruettimann.


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  2. As one of those overlooked candidates, that believes he is a valuable candidate, I have to seriously question whether the quality of HR has improved since the last time was not working full time. Back in 2006, I worked part time for 10 months before I started my full time job in Jan 2007. In 2011 I lost my full time position and am still looking. What has changed? The proliferation of job application portals aka “Black Holes”. What I have also noticed is the lack of ability of junior HR employees to interpret the answers from a candidate. Not all candidates are your STAR EXTROVERTED interviewee that have no issue “selling” themselves. These are your 30 minute quick sorting interviews to get through the chaff as quick as possible … sorta like can the candidate be seen and heard from 20000 ft in the air. Introverts are at a disadvantage … and c’mon … can they really compete against the well-pollished extrovert skilled self-selling? Although most promise a follow up when asked, most never contact you again. Does anybody want to hire me as an HR consultant? I might teach a few people the importance empathy and respect for the candidate.

  3. Suz Scott says:

    I’d love to have the advice of anyone on this site, HR director, or applicant. A friend posted a help wanted ad and was perplexed that people messaged and texted him, even though the listing contained a phone number and stated to call for an interview. He asked me why he had a 3:1 ratio of people who would message, rather than call. I admit, it made no sense to either of us. With so many companies taking applications, online only – you would think people would jump at the chance to call (and follow directions 🙂 ). It’s actually for a fun copywriting job – creative, good pay, flex-time / telecommute, internet-based. He has hired two of the people that called, but (just as an experiment, we messaged them back with the phone number [again] and a request to call) the ‘message people’ appear to be ‘rather flaky’. Is this a new trend, or have you found that those who send messages, rather than call, are less serious?

  4. Suz Scott says:

    Clarification: To be honest, he’s older and prefers verbal, or face-to-face contact with potential employees. He wouldn’t ordinarily have considered writing to the ‘message senders’. But, he wrote back, to test his theory that those who didn’t call, to begin with, probably wouldn’t. He was correct.
    Any ideas?

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