Accuracy in hiring decisions is not correlated with experience

To find out how to interpret bias in recruitment, we also have a great eBook on inclusive hiring.

It’s the start of the football season in Australia, and I’ve been thinking about how damn hard it must be to coach. Every week you need to revise your game plan, pick the best team to get the match-up right and galvanise your players behind your decisions. You’re constantly adjusting your approach depending on who you are up against, picking different players to counter your opponent’s strengths.

I have heard it said by people who are more football savvy than me that the best coach is the one who can rid him/herself of biases at the decision point of picking the right players for the match.

The well-known Nobel Laureate behavioural economist, Dr Daniel Kahneman, made the same discovery when he first started to work in the space of ‘human decisioning’.

As a young psychologist in the 1950’s, he was tasked with figuring out which recruits to the army should be allocated to which units, infantry, air force etc. 

All the generals of those units strongly asserted that there was a different type for each unit, and they wanted to make allocations that reflected those differences. What Kahneman found over time was that there was no difference between the best soldiers in each part of the army. 

What he observed was the intrusion of the interviewer’s own intuition when interviewing for these roles. Expert judgments were less reliable than they thought. The right algorithms might have solved this.

Accuracy is not correlated with experience. We rely on heuristics, rules of thumb, mental models that rely on similarity with our own past experience. 

The more likely the individual in front of you looks like your mental model of the person you hired last time that “was a great (insert role)”, the more likely you are to see them as a great (insert role).

Confirmation bias is something we see every day in the stock market. A stock price increase does not mean a company is successful. These buying decisions are emotional, not rational. People decisions suffer from the same human frailty.

That’s why Nobel Laureates like Dr Daniel Kahneman and many smart HR leaders are recognising that the only way to interrupt our own biases is with the right technology.

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