One of the most common mistakes we make evaluating potential new hires is that we trust our initial impressions about a candidate. This is a mistake because there are factors that go into these early intuitive assessments that we are not often consciously aware of. The reality is that people who look, talk, and act like us are often given a positive bias in the hiring process. People who remind us someone of we do not like or who we cannot identify with, often cause us to be less open to their candidacy.
One way to overcome this cognitive bias is to be aware of this tendency for quick judgements within ourselves and not allow our brains to take short cuts to evaluating someone we know almost nothing about.
Another way to counter this bias we are often not even aware of is to talk to people to have known and worked with a candidate for more than the 5 minutes we have talked to them. It is one thing for a carnival game operator to convince me I can win when I am standing in front of the game with no one else around, but quite another thing for me to choose to play the game when that carnival operator’s real friends are telling me if I can trust them.
Feedback from Students in Classes:
Albeit, most people can find a few folks willing to say exactly what they want about them. However, over the course of our lives we meet many people who ultimately have informed and educated opinions about our honesty, hard work, and ability to learn. If we stand behind who we say we are and we want potential employers to make wise hiring decisions, we need to be prepared to transparently share the names, contact information, and evaluative comments our superiors, colleagues, direct reports, indirect reports, and many others have made about us.
That is what I am attempting to do with this section. Over the past several decades, in an admittedly self-focused effort to strengthen my self-esteem and remind me of the impact I have had, I have saved many of the comments people have sent me over the years. What you read on the tabs of this References section are all directly from paper and electronic feedback I have received over the past 3 decades. I have actual copies of all of these comments so if you want to see the goods, let me know. (Trust me, when I re-read them, I was often wondering who they were talking about!)
I hope you, too, have the encouraging notes people have given you over the years and when you are feeling down, depressed, or discouraged, you can review them. If not, you can start saving them now or you can ask your friends, co-workers, and others to provide you with their feedback on who you are, how you make others feel, and what you do to leave this world better than you found it. I bet you will be pleasantly surprised by what you learn – we are often much harder on ourselves than others see us.