How to Get It Right by Being Wrong

by | Jun 13, 2024

When evaluating new agents, we all want to avoid making the mistake of hiring the wrong people.

But that’s not as easy as it sounds.

Why? Because our brains often tell us to hire the wrong people through something called confirmation bias.

In a post from the archive, Dave Mashburn explains this frequent error.

Some studies have shown that we actually make up our minds on whether we will hire a candidate in the first 10 seconds of the interview because of confirmation bias.

Confirmation bias, just like it sounds, makes the decision early and then spends the remainder of the interview justifying that decision.

Once we’ve decided we like someone, our brains go about finding reasons to continue liking them.

By contrast, if we don’t like somebody, our brains go about finding reasons to not like them.

We do this by asking questions and only listening for answers to confirm what we’ve already decided.

Since we like to be right, we favor information that confirms our beliefs and discount information that might change our minds.

How do you avoid confirmation bias?

There are several well-documented strategies researchers have discovered, but the easiest one to implement quickly is using a structured interview process.

Develop a common set of questions for your interviews and record the answers (take notes) candidates provide.

And then try to hold back judgment until after the interview and when you’ve had time to review your notes.

Remind yourself–you’ll often get it right by being wrong about your biases.


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