What role does likeability play in the hiring of new employees? According to a recent study by Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management—which looked at the hiring practices among elite investment banks, law firms and management firms—personal likeability seems to play a bigger role in the hiring process than a candidate’s resume. Although the study targeted a narrow range of professions, it served to shed light on an age-old dilemma for hiring managers, namely choosing between the most qualified candidate and the most likeable.
As carefully orchestrated and carried out as it might be, the hiring process is ultimately subjective. Regardless of a candidate’s qualifications, if for some reason he or she ends up rubbing interviewers the wrong way, it will be difficult for them to stay objective and put their personal feelings aside, even if the candidate’s skills and past performance suggest that they might be the best fit for the job.
Of course if a candidate comes off as rude and self-centered, the question of how well they will fit in with the corporate culture and get along with co-workers becomes critical. In addition, it can be difficult for talent management to attempt to train and mentor new hires that they have a hard time liking and have trouble being around. Still, dislike comes in degrees, and interviewers should be willing to look past minor annoyances in considering a candidate’s qualifications for hire.
In an effort to reduce bad hiring decisions by making the selection process as objective as possible, here’s a look at 3 questions hiring managers need to answer honestly before they say, “You’re hired.”
Is my objectivity being blinded?
Some candidates just seem to have that certain something that says, “hire me” from the get-go. Hiring experts call it the “halo effect”. It might be an attractive physical appearance, impressive credentials or a hobby or interest that the interviewer also shares. Whatever that one thing is, it can blind objectivity, obscure a candidate’s weaknesses and exert too great an influence on the final decision to hire. Interviewers who find themselves quickly taken in by a singular aspect of a candidate need to remind themselves of the importance of maintaining objectivity with all candidates during the selection process.
Am I hiring myself?
During the interview process, hiring managers run the risk of seeing “themselves” in the candidate sitting across from them. However, just because someone exhibits the same qualities and skills as the person interviewing them, that doesn’t make them the most qualified candidate for the position being filled.
How much do I really like the candidate I’m considering?
Like the other questions, this one calls for an objective answer. And that answer should honestly weigh the candidate’s likeability with their likelihood of being the best fit for the job based on their specific qualifications. Should a strong candidate come along who has high likeability—and a serious resume to go with it—they should never be hired for the wrong job for fear of letting them get away.
Hiring the right candidate for the right job is the win-win scenario that every company hopes for. As challenging as the selection process is, interviewers who ask candidates and themselves the right questions stand a much better chance of hiring happy, productive and loyal employees for the long term.